There is always an element of risk involved in training pastors in countries around the world, especially in “closed” countries and in those where Christians are persecuted. This is true on the island of Mindanao, the southern most island of the Philippines.
You probably have seen on the news the violence that broke out because of clashes between government forces and a group inspired by the so-called Islamic State in Marawi City on the western end of the island. As a result President Duterte declared martial law on the island as a practical solution to curb this violence. Last week, TLI was monitoring the situation to determine if we should move forward in sending our team for the week of training pastors in Mindanao (May 29 - June 2). The U.S. Department of State recommended ceasing all "non-essential" travel to the island. However, TLI's national partner in Minadano informed us that the training is at the opposite end of the island, far from the troubled area. In his evaluation, he felt it would be safe for our team (and the pastors who will be attending) to continued with the week of training as planned. Of course, we know that there are no guarantees. So we decided to proceed cautiously and prayerfully.
I have learned over the years that living by faith means that we will never have all of our questions answered. If we did before we made any decisions, there would be no faith involved. "And without faith it is impossible to please Him" Hebrews 11:6.
So stepping out in faith, our team left our homes on Friday and all arrived safely in Manila on Saturday evening. The next morning, we returned to the airport for our flight to Mindanao. We met up with our national partner who drove us to our hotel for the week not far from the training site. Everything at the airport, on the road and in the city appears to be normal, just like on previous trips that I have taken to this site. So we thank the Lord for the safe arrival of our team and entrust ourselves to Him for the week.
Pray for our team (Pat Curtis, Ron Latulippe, Larry Stromberg and myself) as we begin leading the pastors and church leaders through a study of the Gospel of Mark. They will have an opportunity at the end of the week to teach an expository lesson or preach an expository message from the book. Thank you for your prayers.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Weymann Lee, Team Leader (for the Team)