Will Graham, OCC shoeboxes, KAIROS, Ptr Chito’s health, PAMI support

Here’s a recent email prayer update that I sent out:

PAMI field director Pastor Chito Mendizabal has referred to recent Christian activity in our region of the Philippines as being historic.  This is largely due to much anticipation of the Will Graham Bicol Celebration of Hope crusade, which will be on April 28 – May 1 at Pili Stadium in the neighboring province of Camarines Sur.  Will Graham is the grandson of the famous evangelist Billy Graham, and son of Franklin Graham.  For several months, pastors and lay leaders have been preparing for this event.  In Sorsogon City alone, a hundred pastors gather regularly for fellowship and coordination of efforts.  People in neighboring provinces like Sorsogon will be provided free transportation to attend the crusade.  Pastor Chito was recently assigned as an ECHELON SUPERVISOR of counselors from the southern Bicol region.
In preparation for the crusade, a lot of EBI people are participating in Billy Graham Evangelical Association (BGEA) training of counselors in Life and Witness materials.  This has dovetailed well with the Faith Comes By Hearing E2E Bible Listening cell groups that sprang up this last year.  The two programs really reinforce each other in terms of discipleship and reaching out.  It was undoubtedly God’s timing to have paved the way for this crusade by softening hearts with all the E2E Jesus film showings and Bible Listening groups.
With the coming of the crusade come other opportunities as well, as various Christian organizations come to the region to join the bandwagon and rally together.  In turn, EBI is currently serving as a host to a KAIROS evangelism and missions class being conducted from March 25-30.  That class equips Christians with evangelical tools and strategies, and has a special emphasis on reaching unreached people groups in the 10/40 window, and unreached minority groups within the Philippines.  Since Pastor Chito felt that EBI students could really benefit from this extra training, EBI graduation has been delayed to April 4.
As large groups of pastors get together in preparation for the crusade, they share insights, and become aware of offers for which they can apply.  In turn, they learned they could apply for Operation Christmas Child gift boxes from Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham.
In turn, there are now 15,000 Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes coming to Sorsogon Province on four ten-wheeler trucks!  Pastor Chito arranged for temporary warehouse storage in Sorsogon City with minimal payment because the warehouse is owned by his cousin.  8,000 boxes arrived on March 24th, and were unloaded smoothly by 10 EBI students with Pastor Chito supervising.  The other 7,000 boxes were scheduled to arrive March 26.  By March 29 or 30, boxes will be distributed to churches.  About 1,400 of these 15,000 boxes will get distributed through EBI and PAMI churches, and the others through other missions and churches of the province.  Usually about 100 boxes go to each church, with a ratio of about 20 boxes per trained teacher.  That’s because there’s a child discipleship component that goes along with the distribution of each box.   But EBI will be getting about 600 boxes, because EBI alone had 35 people trained as teachers.  Overall, EBI had served as a OCC teacher training center for 100+ teachers, so this included more than just the EBI teachers. 
While all these things are exciting, they also pose extra demands on Pastor Chito’s time and strength.  Pastor Chito’s health is at stake.  After experiencing fatigue, Pastor Chito had medical check-ups and testing a couple months ago that indicated irregular heartbeat (with aortic valve regurgitation and enlarged atrium), and the doctor advised immediate rest and a whole bunch of medication.  But so far he has only taken 4 days vacation back in February.  We have been encouraging him to take 3 weeks of vacation after EBI graduation.  But now it looks like his schedule might not allow him to do so until May.  We’ve also been encouraging him to off-load or delegate some of his duties.  But it’s hard to slow him down, since he has such drive and passion to reach people for Christ.  Please help pray that he finds a good balance.
By the way, PAMI is glad to have received extra funds at year-end and the first couple months of 2011.  This has allowed us to balance our budget for a couple months, and designate $800 towards special needs (i.e. $500 towards 100 chairs and $300 towards further finishing of the new kids building at EBI).  However, we will soon be in need of more funds to keep the budget balanced.  And there are more needs and projects that could use extra funds.  Here’s a list of them:
– $700 for the first 3 months of Pastor Chito’s medicine and testing
– $1100 for 200 more chairs at $5.50 each
– $800 more for finishing the EBI kids building (including adding a bathroom)
– $1000-2000 for refurbishing EBI’s dormitories, including replacing a lot of the rafters that have been eaten over the years by termites (making the roof susceptible to blowing off in the strong winds of a typhoon).  Pastor Chito has mentioned appealing to past EBI graduates to help with this.
– $1000 for adding a second floor onto the parsonage portion of the Bulan Church (to help match the pension funds offered by one of the elders of the Bulan church, who recently retired from his job as a public school principal).  This would not only provide more parsonage living space, but also a safe refuge to store church equipment in case the lower level gets flooded.
– $1000 for a motorcycle for a pastor to better get around to different places to conduct Bible studies
– $10,000+ for property and construction of a church in Irosin, Barcelona, or Donsol so they don’t have to keep renting
We really appreciate your prayers and financial support of PAMI.  Tax-deductible gifts can be made by writing checks to PAMI and mailing to:
PAMI (Philippine-Asian Missions, Inc.)
P.O. Box 201444
Bloomington, MN  55420-6444
One-time or automatic monthly gifts to PAMI can also now be made on-line through credit cards or Paypal with a modest fee of 2.2% + 30 cents by going to the “Donate” tab of our webite:
Through the love of the Lord,
Mike Thorud 3-27-11
PAMI volunteer president
Here’s a more recent update on the OCC boxes from an April 7th email from Pastor Chito:
In God’s love. In here, we’re overwhelmed with God’s gracious opportunity of serving a lot of people. By Saturday, April 9th, we will start giving the shoeboxes. This is very exciting because about 600 children would receive the gift in EBI alone. The program of Operation Christmas Child is that ages 7 and below will just receive gifts; but ages 8 to 14 will have a follow-up classes. Good that we have half the number of children (300 kids) will have the Bible classes. Wow! Those kids are already in the junior. I delegated to James and Lorenzo to really administer the whole program. Praying and anticipating for those big numbers of children who would be discipled. Like producing worship leaders, or a separate worship service for kids and youth. If God by His grace enable us to disciple those kids to maturity. Now, we are preparing for the materials (studying the lessons and songs); OCC provided even the lessons both for teachers and students; that is one booklet for every child. The lesson is called THE GREATEST JOURNEY. And so nice that OCC produced the materials in Tagalog.

During the delivery, OCC appreciated our efforts of helping. EBI students helped carrying and sorting us boxes in the boxes from start to finish (distribution of boxes to churches lasted for two days). EBI was blessed to have the biggest number of recipients.

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