They are trying to kill me. Three talks a day and it is hot here. I am used to Michigan where the weather is cooler and the lifestyle is a little slower. Here in the Philippines they have me working from morning to night speaking at seminaries, businessmenâ€™s groups, huge charismatic groups and to Catholic street preachers. We are even going to conduct the first ever Catholic conference in the south Philippines, in the city of Davao.
It took us 20 hours to get to Manila. It is a LONG way and the time difference is 13 hours â€“ so if you are waking up right now we are going to bed. It was 20 degrees when we stepped into the plane in Detroit and it was 85 degrees when we stepped off the plane.
We got to bed at 1:30 AM and were awakened at 6 AM to go to my first speaking engagement. See what I mean — they are trying to kill me! But what a great way to die ?Â My first talk was a great privilege. I spoke with the seminarians at the largest seminary in Manila. There were 175 young men along with some priests. They were hesitant â€“ who is this baldheaded guy coming here from the US to teach us. They sat in the back. (Picture is of Steve with several of the seminarians.)
But once I started telling them the story of my conversion they warmed up. I was excited, emotional, and waving my hands in the air. I challenged, chided, and questioned them. They warmed up. By the end of the talk they all wanted my picture and signature on books they bought. I LOVED these guys. I told them they were the best men in the world â€“ working to be priests! I told them they could not view the priesthood as a job, but as a great love affair! They were to love the Bride of Christ â€“ to love her enough to lay down their lives. We had a great time and I felt a real bond with wonderful and dedicated young men.
The next morning I was again rudely awakened from sleep (just kidding) to go to a large auditorium to speak to the Light of Jesus Charismatic Catholic group. Bo Sanchez is an amazing young man that started this community several years ago and now has thousands of members. I had to speak to three waves of people â€“ 1,200 in each group. There were three Masses celebrated on Sunday and after each Mass I gave my 1 Â½ hour conversion story. What an enthusiastic and orthodox group of Catholics, many of them young and excited about the faith. They laughed and cried and I greatly enjoyed sharing my story with them and challenging them to better understand and defend the Catholic faith. After each session Janet and I spent an hour or more signing books and talking with these great folks.
They all loved the story of my meeting with a Baptist missionary to the Philippines. I met him at a Bible Software Seminar. I asked him what he did and he said, â€œI am a missionary to the Philippines. They are Catholics and I teach them to know Jesus and leave the Catholic Church.â€œ He then asked me â€œWhat do you do? and I said, â€œI am also a missionary to the Philippines.â€œ He asked me â€œWhat do you do there?â€œ I said, â€œI teach the Filipino people how to defend themselves against people like you!â€œÂ The audience roared and applauded.Â They are all Christians with aÂ passionate love for Jesus and hisÂ Church andÂ find it funny that Americans come here to teach them about Jesus. I agree.Â
After that we had a quick dinner with two priests and then went straight to the largest radio station in the Philippines and did a one hour interview. The calls flooded in as I challenged all the cults and sects invading the Philippines. One lady called and said â€œI was thinking of leaving the Catholic Church but after your encouragement I have decided that I will die a Catholic. I will never leave.â€
We crashed into bed late again. Tomorrow (Monday) I will speak to 100 Catholic street preachers who work with El Shaddai â€“ but Iâ€™ll write about that later.
I have to thank the members of Defensores Fidei Foundation. They are a group of family men who started to take on the job of defending the faith in the Philippines. I consider them family and they voted to make Janet and I members of the group. Henry and Alex, Gerry and Tom, Chit and the rest have been more than generous and hospitable. Janet and I love these folks. Also, special thanks to Rommie and Melanie Chan who have allowed us to stay in the guest house and treat us like a king and queen.