To say that this trip to The Philippines was great would be underselling it. It was much, much more than great. I will never forget the sights, the sounds, the people, and especially the food. (I'm still recovering.) It great as it was, it was also exhausting. Two straight weeks of go, go, go. Most days functioning on 5-6 hours (sometimes less,) and 30 degree + weather in jeans, a dress shirt, and shoes. (Most Evangelical churches down there are quite conservative.) All that to say, it was a FULL trip. Full of exhaustive goodness. You may be wondering at this moment, "why did he go to The Philippines again?" Let me explain:
One brisk winter evening a few months back, I got a call from my friend of 15 years, Fraser Campbell. Fraser is a worship leader here in town, and also a touring worship artist. For the past 7ish years Fraser has felt called to focus on touring with his music in Canada, and he's done pretty well here. He's been nominated for a Juno and gotten to the point where the USA has taken some notice, and asked him to come down. For all you who don't know, if you want to actually "make it" or at least make a living doing music, you need to go to the states. It's a hard market to break into though.
After thinking about it for some time, Fraser declined. it wasn't sitting right with him. So after spending some time with God, He felt a stronger calling to go minister with his music to the Philippines. (which is not a smart business plan... HAHA) But that's not what ministry is all about. (trust me, you don't get into it for the money.....) So with obedience, he started putting some feelers out there to some churches. It was during this time that he gave me a call. I've played music on and off with Fraser for 11 years, I've gone on a number of tours, and been on more teams than I can count with him. He's also the first person to see my drumming potential and push me to share my gifts in front of people. Anyways, nothing was set in stone yet, but he needed to see who was available. When he called, I didn't even think about it. I said yes right away. I just had a good feeling about it. I had no idea how I would pay for it, but I knew it would be fine. Long story short, with lots of help from God, things came together perfectly.
OK now on to the trip....
Schedule and Locations
Feb 17 - Manila
Feb 18 - Bacolod
Feb 19th - Bacolod
Feb 20th - Bacolod/Manila
Feb 21st - Manila/Cabanotuan City
February 22nd - Cabanotuan City/ Manila
February 23rd - Manila
February 24th - Manila
Feb 25th - Manila/ Batangas City
Feb 26th - Batangas City
Feb 27th - Batangas City/ Puerto Princesa
Feb 28th - Puerto Princesa/ El nido
Feb 29th - El Nido/Puerto Princesa
March 1st - Puerto Princesa/ Manila
March 2nd - Home
What did I do?
The primary purpose of this trip was to lead people in worship through music. This included regular Sunday morning music sets, but it also included concerts, and helping out with street ministry events. We played for a lot of people. Thousands actually. Not every night, but some nights we did! Christianity is everywhere in the Philippines. It's the polar opposite to Canada. The average church size in Canada is 80 people. That would be a dead church in the Philippines. It was really cool to witness.
One of the Highlights of the trip for me was the chance to lead two workshops on how to play drums in a worship band . I had a great time sharing my personal philosophies on both technique and execution, but also on the spiritual side of things as well. Being a drummer on a worship team is no small task, and it's been a process for me. I got to share on how I've learned to listen, pride, obedience, humility, so on and so on. Basically I got to share my Journey with people. My struggles and my joy's. It was a blast. I hope that people benefitted from the time they spend in my class. I think they did.
At the end of the day though, the best part of the trip was spending time with people. Filipino's are an amazing people. They're (at least the ones I spent time with) so warm, hospital, funny, optimistic and loving. It was hard to leave. They were so excited that we came all the way from Canada to visit them. They honestly treated us like celebrities. There were certain points in the trip where I felt like one of The Beatles. We learned very quickly how much it meant to each individual when we would set aside time to intentionally get to know them. So we used our "celebrity status" to bless them, love them, and encourage them. Even a picture together meant a lot to them. It was a true gift so spend time with people.
What did I learn?
I learned that the North American Church has a lot to learn. It was shocking to witness how much Filipino christians love to spend time with God. Their faith and their relationship with God is EVERYTHING to them. It's not like here, where being a christian is just another notch in your belt so to speak. Their lives are not nearly as compartmentalized as ours. I've heard many christians here say, "I'm a christian, but it's not all that I am." Lord have mercy....
The Filipino's I spent time with were so dependent on God for all things, and they fully expected him to show up. It was really amazing to witness the confidence and trust they had in God.
I really enjoyed witnessing the abandon of each person's reputation for when they were worshipping in church. They didn't care what they looked like, or what the people around them thought. It was just them and God. It was really refreshing for me, and it allowed me to loosen up as well. I danced, I yelled, I sang. It was great. It was also really amazing to witness the boldness they have with their faith to non christians. They were not embarrassed to be identified as Christian at all. (unlike here) In fact, they were quite vocal about it. I asked a girl about her boldness to unbelievers and she said: " I like the lyrics of this song, 'light up the world.' The lyrics are 'For if we'll not tell them just how much you love them, then tell me how will they know?' " That's just the attitude of the Filipino christians. They understand the Gospel is to be shared, and they put themselves out there in order to do so.
It was a great trip. I actually feel quite refreshed even though it was so hectic. I'm still processing everything that i experienced and witnessed, but i know I've come back a changed person. Thanks be to God.
Things you can pray for:
-I've finally got a preaching date. Looks like I'll be preaching on April 17. Not sure of the time/location. I'll let you know when I know. I'm looking forward to it, but with anything new theres always a bit of anxiety. Please pray for focus, peace and thank God for him bringing me into this new place.
-After being away for two weeks I've come back to some mild chaos at work. Please pray for patience and efficiency with getting through all the tasks I need to catch up on.
-Pretty soon I'm going to be starting another round of the "Food and Theology" course that I designed and led last fall. please pray for God to bring the right people to that group who are in a place to receive what God has for them through my work.
PEACE AND LOVE,