Wow, did I get behind or what? It is a combination of no internet connections and no time. Tim Staples from Catholic Answers joined us Thursday after we arrived in Manila from Cebu and Bacolod. We have been a great team preaching and answering questions all over the place.
There is no way to describe or illustrate what fills our days! From early in the mornings until midnight we are speaking, discussing, flying to new islands and sharing with new people. Of course, we love our home base here in Manila with Rommie and Melanie Chan and the Defensores Fidei guys (and one gal, Chit).
For example, one morning we spoke to over 1,000 young people who were singing and praying like no teenagers we have ever seen in America. Tim and I were both blown away by their enthusiasm and love for the Lord. After teaching and Q & A we shook hands and hugged and signed autographs for almost an hour before being rushed off for another group in the afternoon. This group was over 2,000 girls in a Catholic school. After a great seafood dinner we were taken to meet with a large group of apologists. We encouraged them, answered their questions and came away very excited and encouraged. We got home between 11 PM and midnight.
Janet has been a real trooper – right at my side every minute. Sharing with everyone and bringing joy into peoples’ lives. She has talked from the podium and been interviewed on TV. She is the best! What a gift from God.
We flew back to Bacolod on Saturday for a large rally back in the small villages off the beaten track. It was sponsored by Madame Gretchen Cojuangco who has built the beautiful church in her town and who with her husband Danding owns massive farms and enterprises including San Miguel Beer (which is deeeelicious!) They fed over 2,500 people and we watched them roast 2 whole cows, 8 goats, and over 30 pigs.
Our talks were held in a cock pit, which is a place for fighting roosters. We talked with over 2,500 people for almost 4 hours and Tim worked up a real sweat (no air conditioners) and then we had Mass in the cock pit and then dinner in her gorgeous home—fresh shrimp and seafood caught that afternoon, fresh mangos which are out of this world, dark San Miguel beer and much more. We got to bed late and were up again at 4:45 to catch a flight back to Manila for lunch and talks at the large Filinvest Mall.
Rommie and Melanie are marvelous hosts. They are generous and kind and their hospitality is exemplary. We love them very much. They feed us way too much since Melanie is a great cook.
We find here that many Catholics are excited about their faith, they love Jesus and Mary and want to study and learn how to explain and defend the faith. Crowds surround us wanting to ask questions and get information. Even Protestants have come to our conferences though they tend to be very quiet. Catholics are not so easy to push around any more.
I tell the people of my experience at a Bible Software class in Detroit where I was the only Catholic in a room full of Evangelicals. I asked the man sitting next to me what he did. He answered, “I am a missionary to the Philippines.” I asked what the did there and he said, “The people there are mostly Catholics so we go to get them saved and born again.”
He asked me what I did and I said, “I am also a missionary to the Philippines.” When he asked me what I did, I said, “I teach them how to defend themselves against guys like you!”
These folks are mostly sincere Christians with a great love for Jesus and the Church but they have not been taught how to explain and defend their faith. This makes them very vulnerable to cults and sects who are flooding the islands to capitalize on the sincerity and innocence of these good people. There is much work to do. We are on our Fourth Missionary Journey to the Philippines and we hope to come again many times in the future.
We are really having a great time with Tim Staples who is a great preacher and apologist. He is a pleasure to work with and we hope to do this together again. We are supposed to have some time off over the next two days as we visit the island of Boracay. I hope to get more posted then. Stay tuned.
Pictures: 1) Map of Philippines with cities circled where we visited; 2) Janet teaching in Bacolod City with bats swooping around her head; 3) Steve defending the faith in the Cock Pit on the island of Negros; 4) over 2,000 girls at Immaculate Conception where Tim and I shared our conversion stories; 5) some of the young people in Manila who were so excited about the Lord at Bo Sanchez's group; Steve on national cable TV.