Members of C4C Philippines celebrated a “White CHRISTmas” (but not really) at their annual CHRISTmas party.
After three years, what are you grateful for? This was the question for everyone on the night of the third-year anniversary climb of Climbing For Christ Philippines.
It was an exciting day that started with the thrilling crossing of the Manalmon River on suspended cables and included an adventure into the underground world of the Bayukbok caves. This was to be followed the following day with a climb to the summit of Mount Manalmon and a rappel on the steep, jagged cliffs to the town of Madlum.
CLICK HERE to read the rest of this story.
C4C Philippines is 3!
Happy Birthday, C4C Philippines!
C4C Philippines celebrated three years of blessings by climbing Mount Manalmon in San Miguel, Bulacan on Oct. 30-31. Many joined us as we walked, laughed, shared, ate, rappelled, crossed a river, and went caving — all to commemorate how “GOD has been GOOD” to C4C! We shared stories of the climbs to reach and help the people of Kibungan and the upcoming mission climbs. Sama ka na! Sige na! Sige na!
Celebrating by giving
During our Bible study sessions it had been agreed to celebrate the second anniversary of C4C Philippines by doing a relief operation, instead of an anniversary climb on Saturday, Oct. 24. We all agreed to Pat Bonaobra’s proposal to go to Landayan as part of Project Good Samaritan.
Pat's co-worker Izay Catuiran, a new Climbing For Christ member, had told him about the suffering of families whose houses are still under water more than a month after the first storm hit Metro Manila.
C4C Philippines traverses streets still filled with floodwaters.
An eight-person team of C4C Philippines members arrived at around 10 a.m. at Landayan. Izay greeted us, bringing rubber boots and a large boat. Izay, Pat, and Jhun Hacbang boarded the boat that navigated the flooded streets of Landayan. People were moving around using improvised rafts made from every possible material — from inflatable beds to rubber tire interiors lashed together with rope.
We shared food, prayer, and encouragement that God has not forgotten them.
After the relief operations, C4C members attended church service together in the afternoon and shared a fellowship dinner. By far this is one of the most meaningful celebrations of C4C Philippines. We truly praise God for the opportunity to be a channel of His blessings.
To my fellow C4C Philippines members: Let us move forward to a year of more giving! May the Lord continue to use every one of us to give hope, to give life, and to give love to those who need it.
CLICK HERE to read the latest update on Project Good Samaritan.
The Second Commandment
Climbing for Christ Philippines celebrated its second anniversary on Oct. 18. When I look back, God has blessed us with many successful endeavors. From visiting the Aeta churches on Mount Pinatubo in January; helping Jude Sanchez Jr., who is 64, summit the highest mountain in the Philippines (Mount Apo) in February; traversing the mountains of Kibungan to La Union in May to bring school supplies and share the love of Christ to a mountain village called Badeo; helping Pastor William Abott, a brain cancer survivor, raise funds for the cancer ward of the Philippine General Hospital by summiting Mount Pulag in July; to conducting our first Mountaineering skills program “Climb 101” in September.
It has truly been a blessed year for C4C! We praise God for all that has been done, because He opened the doors and provided the people and provisions for all that He has set for us to do. But more than just the expeditions one of the major breakthroughs for me on this second year is the growth that can be seen in the lives of individual C4C members. Most notably those who are regular attendees of the weekly Base Camp Sessions. Week after week we all learn something new, week after week there are fresh testimonies, and week after week we are encouraged to do more for others because of what we see God doing in our lives.
There are only two important commandments, according to Jesus in Mark 12:28-31:
“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, 'Of all the commandments, which is the most important?'
“'The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.”
Focusing on God's Word I believe is what makes C4C a successful ministry. Because as you grow in your relationship with God, so also grows your desire to love and serve others. As Jesus was explaining to a teacher of the law the importance of loving God and loving your neighbor, the teacher shifted the discussion to the second commandment by asking a question, found in Luke 10:28, “'You have answered correctly,' Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.' But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'”
Jesus responded to this question by telling the story of the Good Samaritan. The answer to his question was defined in a moment of great crisis. Because your neighbor is anyone who is in difficult circumstances and God has led you to pas him by.
As the year draws to a close, two major storms hit the Philippines and resulted in massive loss of life and destruction. I can remember the night I was watching the news and felt the urge to do something. Later on I would find out that Climbing For Christ president Gary Fallesen, halfway around the world in America, was burdened with the same thought. I believe this is what the Samaritan felt at the time he saw the man battered on the roadside, an overwhelming feeling that something needed to be done. It could only be a love that comes from God Himself, for only He can care so much for us despite our weaknesses and failures.
So C4C Philippines initiated Project Good Samaritan this October to provide relief supplies and to share the hope that can be found in Jesus for those affected by the recent storms. It is an ongoing project that has benefited more than 100 families and is supported by funds from C4C Philippines members and brethren from the United States.
The second year of C4C Philippines can be defined for me in two words: LOVE and SERVICE. The second commandment, to love others, is the manifestation of what God has started in C4C. We can never look at those who need Christ, who need help, who need hope in the same way again. I pray in the coming third year of C4C Philippines, God blesses us with greater capacity to LOVE and SERVE more and more people.
We give God all the glory, honor and praise for all that He has done, and all that C4C Philippines has been able to do! Happy second anniversary C4C Philippines!
Stepping out in the wake of a typhoon
- CLICK HERE to read “Updates from the relief front,” a journal following Project Good Samaritan.
Internationally, the storm was reported as a blip on the radar of bad news. “Torrential rains and subsequent flooding pummeled the Philippines on Saturday (Sept. 26),” news agencies said in a major understatement.
The storm that spawned the disaster was at first reported as simply a “tropical storm.” But it was a typhoon, named Ketsana to the rest of the world but known in the Philippines as “Ondoy.” Ondoy leaves in its wake the same nightmarish memories as Hurricane Katrina did in the United States: death, destruction, suffering.
Ace Concordia sharing about Jesus while delivering food and clothing on Oct. 3.
“We launched Project Good Samaritan this week to gather food, water, and clothing as part of our relief operations to help out those in need,” said Climbing For Christ Philippines coordinator Ace Concordia. “We have sacks of rice and canned goods that we will be packaging in the coming days for distribution.”
CLICK HERE to read the rest of the story about Project Good Samaritan.
“Mission: Possible” cancer climb
Would you like to make a difference in the life of another person? We encouraged people to join C4C Philippines in a climb for a cause that benefited cancer patients of Hardin ng Pag-Asa of the Philippine General Hospital. This project was inspired by the life of Pastor William Abbott, who survived one of the very few operations called awake craniotomy wherein the patient is kept awake and talking throughout a three-hour procedure to remove a significant part of a tumor on the brain. Pastor Abott was among the 31 people who joined us for “Mission: Possible” — the Mount Pulag cancer climb — July 3-5, 2009.
The climb was a testimony of what God can do in a person’s life. How he turns tragedy into hope! William Abbott considered that he would not live very long after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and yet after much prayer and unyielding faith, he has now stood on the summit of the second-highest mountain in the Philippines. With God, all things truly are possible.
CLICK HERE to read the complete story.
Signs of life
“We are not an organization, we are an organism.” I remember hearing these words at a business meeting. It perfectly describes what any endeavor for Christ should be; it should not be based on an organizational chart, but on organizational change. What I mean is that the ultimate evidence that something is alive is the changes that occur to it, and the signs of growth that can be seen.
In 1½ years — since the first meeting of seven mountaineers on Oct. 19, 2007 — C4C Philippines has 80 members from different islands and provinces.
Just as a tree’s purpose is to bear fruit, C4C Philippines has been bearing much fruit in two provinces (Baguio in Northern Luzon and Davao on the island of Mindanao). Both of these areas have one thing in common, and that is the reason why we say they are bearing fruit. They have C4C members who have jumped from being just members to actively promoting and organizing activities for C4C.
Because of this Climbing For Christ president Gary Fallesen has proposed the idea of calling these areas of growth “Sub-Chapters.” Marissa Chaangan, a nurse who was a member of our Mission: Philippines 2008 team in to Tacadang, will coordinate Baguio, and Rodilyn Abella-Bolo will coordinate Davao.
- CLICK HERE to read the rest of “Signs of life”
- CLICK HERE to read Rodilyn’s story, “Another chapter begins in Davao”
Blessing Badeo: A successful exploratory climb was completed to the Kibungan Province, where our mission field continues to expand. CLICK HERE to read the Trip Report.
Growing in Davao
Ace Concordia, right, and Doc Cecil display their Climbing For Christ colors on the summit of Mount Apo. CLICK HERE to read Ace's story, “Dream Maker: Climbing Mount Apo.”
Upon our return from successfully summiting Mount Apo, we were scheduled to meet a Climbing For Christ member who lives in Davao. Her name is Rodilyn Abella and her husband, Jun, is a Mount Apo guide for EDGE Adventure Specialists. Rodilyn invited four more of her friends, who are also climbers and have summited Mount Apo many times and from all the different routes. Joining us for dinner on Feb. 20, 2009 were Irwen D. Flores, Rufino Arancana Jr. and his wife Melissa Jean, and Rogelio R. Wamelda. We talked about their experiences in climbing Mount Apo and the many routes up the mountain.
Our new friends in Davao also shared stories of climbing Mount Kitanglad and its steep 90-degree slopes. As I began sharing about C4C and our mission to the people and churches of the mountains, Rodilyn said: “This is what I’ve been waiting for.” She expressed how she had longed for mountaineering to have a purpose, especially in Mindanao. Mindanao is a center for terrorism in the Philippines. More than 120,000 people have died in decades-long Muslim separatist unrest there.
This group was very enthusiastic about the possibility of having a C4C chapter in Davao. I said that if necessary I would return to help them start an activity that will involve other Davao climbers in C4C. We sealed our meeting with a prayer and once again God has provided an open door for C4C to grow. Please continue to pray for Rodilyn and Jun and the opportunities for C4C to minister in Mindanao.
Meet the church of the Aetas
Out of the volcanic ash of a devastating eruption in 1991 has risen a church. The indigenous tribe of the Aetas endure on the barren slopes of Mount Pinatubo on the island of Luzon. Just like an oasis in the desert, the Aeta churches in Pinatubo serve as wells of refreshment for the soul, a shelter from the heat of hopelessness, a light for the lost.
- CLICK HERE to read Oasis: Meeting the Aeta church on Mount Pinatubo.
Happy CHRISTmas from the Philippines
We had our chapter CHRISTmas party on Saturday, Dec. 20 at our church in Las Pinas City, outside Metro Manila. Seventeen people attended, including Snookie Gooden and her daughter. Snookie is the wife of Gene Gooden, who is American based in Korea. The couple is moving to the Philippines permanently and contacted me because they were C4C members and have been monitoring the Philippines Chapter.
We talked to Danny and Marissa (members of the Mission: Philippines 2008 team) on the cell phone. They live up in Baguio City in the north. Danny is coming along on the Mount Apo climb. That's one of our planned climbs for 2009.
Merry CHRISTmas to all! Happy birthday to Jesus!!!
Climbing for Christ Philippines turns 1!
The first anniversary climb of C4C Philippines has just been concluded. Seven climbers went up Mount Manabu in Batangas and spent the night there on Oct. 18-19. I had my message played on a tape recorder. After the climb they came down to the house of a local who is a long-time friend of Andrea Alorro and gathered more than 30 kids for a storytelling program. The kids listened to brother Jhun Hacbang share about blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), and they also had games and prizes for the kids.
It was a year ago when I met the first members of C4C Philippines at Starbucks Alabang. Among those who attended Pat, AA, Jason, Theres, Jhun, and myself began a friendship that has now literally crossed mountains, forests and rivers.
Since that faithful meeting we have now grown to 46 official members found all over the Philippine Islands. We have made two successful mission climbs – one to Mount Pulag and the second to Tacadang in Kibungan Benguet province. These climbs were both aimed at giving out Bibles to the churches in the mountains, providing encouragement to those who minister there, and sharing our lives with those who are seeking and are growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Very recently, with the help of Danny Sison, C4C Baguio has begun taking shape as the first provincial chapter of C4C Philippines. C4C Philippines was also part of the Philippine delegation that participated in the recent Asia Pacific Adventure Ministry Conference held in Singapore and is working with Christian Camping International Philippines to host the 2009 conference. As the year comes to an end we are anticipating the visit of Climbing For Christ founder Gary Fallesen to our country. This visit will be culminated by a second mission climb to Tacadang. CLICK HERE to read “Healing Tacadang,” the name for Mission: Philippines 2008.
It was a blessed year, better than what I had initially expected. But in the light of all these things that have been accomplished I would like to always return to the true source of our success as an organization. When I think about the huge amount of time, resources, people, talent, and skill that has been contributed by various organizations and individuals to make our plans bear fruit it is truly awe inspiring. I smile at the thought that we had such a big year, and that’s when I know it was because of a big God who made it happen for us. People whom we didn’t know have come out to volunteer and help. Foundations, companies, and churches have blessed us with support. We climbed in perfect weather, even though it was the storm season on our latest mission trip. We have cried and laughed at our Bible studies. But most of all, there has been change in our lives. These are the miracles that happen in C4C Philippines.
The greatest miracle isn’t raising the dead or walking on water. Miracles weren’t meant to entertain us, and afterwards we go home still the same person. True miracles are the ones that make you change direction in life, and bring a smile to someone else. To bring change into your life and others is the true miracle. I pray that everyone involved with C4C Philippines will continue to experience this miracle of God. It was truly a year of miracles.
Looking ahead, what lies in store for C4C Philippines? We are looking towards more mission climbs in Benguet province. There’s also the possibility of climbing Mount Apo next year. Of course there’s the Adventure Ministry Conference in August 2009. New things will include developing adventure-based programs for the youth, which could be offered to schools, and the development of training programs.
In light of so much that still needs to be done, I am excited about the future. Simply because the first year has proven that God has a plan for C4C Philippines. I take this opportunity to thank Gary Fallesen and his family and the board of C4C in the U.S. for their prayers, encouragement, and support. I also thank the numerous people and organizations that have been an invaluable contribution to our first year. There are too many names to mention, but you know who you are and we continue to pray for you and may the Lord bless your generosity. I thank my fellow C4C members and the other climbers whom I have met for having made it such an exciting adventure.
But most of all, I lift up my praises and thanksgiving to God for hearing our prayers and blessing us on our first year. The source of the success of C4C is no one else but God! He brought strangers together and made them brothers and sisters. He made resources available from nothing. He made missionaries out of mountaineers. He even controlled the weather for us at times! Now isn’t that a miracle?! Thank you, Jesus, for all you’ve done!
If you are looking for an adventure, I invite you to join Climbing For Christ Philippines, and experience the challenge and joys of mountaineering.
To God be all the glory!
Project: Reaching Tacadang
People come together for many reasons, to celebrate, to mourn, to think, or to just simply share thoughts. Usually this involves simple sit-downs around a table or at a nearby coffee shop. But what if you told people to gather for the purpose of walking 9-to-10 hours across several mountain passes with ravines while carrying heavy packs on their backs?! I guess most people would pass.
But Sept. 4-8, eight people said “yes” to this invitation. Seven climbers from Climbing For Christ in Manila along with one climber from Baguio took on the challenge of the project “Reaching Tacadang.” The purpose of the climb was to fulfill a promise made during a previous recon climb to Tacadang. The objective was to bring Bibles and much needed school supplies and slippers to the residents and children of Tacadang.
- CLICK HERE to read the entire story, “Fellowship of the King.”
Survey Mission: Tacadang
As I write this I have just returned from a five-day survey trip (July 29-Aug. 2) to the Kibungan province in the north of Luzon. My original plan was to have a Climbing For Christ mission team meet some pastors in the mountains and spend time at their churches. But because God has a plan greater than mine it has evolved into more than what I originally intended.
I decided to act on a long-standing invitation from a missionary friend on this exploratory trip. There’s so much I want to share, but the following is the best way I can summarize my activities on my visit to Kibungan. This may also give you an idea of future mission trips in this area. I was accompanied on this trip by C4C member Jhun Hancbang.
- CLICK HERE for the story, “How far would you go ... to help someone?”
Prayer Peaks Day
Wow, Prayer Peaks is a great idea! It was so exciting that when I mentioned it at a meeting in June, it was unanimous that C4C Philippines participate. On Sunday, June 29, C4C Phils climbed Mount Manabu in Batangas, where there is a huge cross at the peak. The group spent time at the foot of that cross praying for the church — in America and throughout the world! We were blessed to be praying with our brethren climbers!
Inspired in Dipolog
(April 27, 2008) I met Pastor Boni Sembran and the pastors that serve in the mountains of Mindanao last year on my first trip to Dipolog when I was invited to give a testimony. When I was informed they were once again gathering this April, I decided to push through with my overdue visit to their church. I had been planning for quite awhile to return to Mindanao so that I could promote C4C Philippines and also learn more about the ministers and ministry on the mountains of Mindanao.
I took my son Jade with me on April 24. Pastor Boni’s son, Joshua, and several other pastors greeted us at the airport. We arrived at Pastor Boni’s house, where the rest of the pastors were waiting for our arrival. I gave a brief greeting and stated my purpose for visiting again: to promote C4C and to gain personal knowledge and experience of the churches in the mountains.
The following day Pastor Julito Manugas accompanied us to his church in Cayasan. The journey took about one hour by vehicle and about one-half hour by foot. The church was a small, unfinished structure that had a roof, chairs, and a pulpit, and not much else. It was a work in progress. But whatever the church may lack in structural beauty it more than made up for in hospitality and fellowship by its members.
“The guests are here!” they said in the Visayan language, and people started coming out of their houses and headed for the church. They carried with them all sorts of fruits and food, and some of the men started climbing the coconut trees to get fresh coconuts.
I had very simple expectations on this visit, but this hospitality was an unexpected blessing for us. As we were all enjoying the feast I inquired about how Christian life is on the mountain. I learned that the church hosted five-to-seven families who travel by foot for two-to-three hours from distant villages just to get to church on Sunday.
Many villages in the mountains still did not have Christian churches; there is truly a great need for evangelistic work on these mountains. They were not just hungry for food; they were also very hungry for the Word of God.
The church in Cayasan wanted to make the most of our stay so I was asked to give a short message and we had a kind of impromptu mini-service. I talked about C4C and the importance of the presence of the mountain churches. I encouraged them that their church played a significant role in spreading the Gospel to other people on the mountain. We prayed and laughed a little more, and even though we sensed that they wanted us to stay a little bit longer we had to take our leave. But we promised to return and attend their Sunday service.
After lunch, we prepared to go to the second church that we were to visit. To get to this second church we had to ride motorcycles. It was an hour’s ride on concrete roads, and then 1½ hours of riding off-road. It was one of the longest, bumpiest rides I had ever been on. This church was a stark contrast to the one we first visited; there was no one to greet us there. This church was more Spartan than the first, with an earthen floor, makeshift stools, a table for a pulpit, and a roof. But despite its seemingly impoverished stature, the church had more than 10 families attending on Sundays. Some travel several hours by foot, and others by the sea on boats. The pastor of this church tells me that despite the condition of the church structure, they have great Sunday services there. This only proves that the true church is the people who gather for Christ. In my mind I imagined the services held here, and I look forward to coming back and experiencing it for myself.
As we prepared to travel back, the pastors who were our guides couldn’t help but offer us a climb knowing that we were mountaineers. Since we still had time I said “yes” to the offer, not really knowing what I was getting into. So we started on a wide trail, but not on foot, on the motorcycles. I suggested that it was better to tackle the mountain on foot, but they insisted they couldn’t leave their motorcycles in that area, so we had to ride it to the top. Slipping, sliding, and pushing became the mode of ascent, but eventually after maybe an hour (and for the first time in my life as a climber) we reached the summit of Mount Asperon on a motorcycle! This short adventure became a small bonus for us on this trip.
On our last day in Dipolog I was asked to share in the dawn devotion for all the pastors. I took this opportunity to again promote C4C. I also used this occasion to encourage these pastors by sharing about what I saw as the importance of their churches, and of establishing more churches on the mountains of Mindanao. They play a significant role in the evangelism of the tribes and villages on the island of Mindanao.
Before leaving for the airport we went around the city and I saw a local outdoor shop and decided to check it out. The shop’s name was Earth Adventures Sports Shop. I talked with the store staff, which were also local mountaineers, and introduced myself as a member of C4C. The guy I was talking to asked me if I was a Christian? I said, “Yes,” and it turned out he was, too. His name was Joel Patrimonio, and his boss was Basil Gonzalez, also a Christian. We talked for quite a while as I again took the opportunity to introduce C4C. Joel mentioned that many years ago their church also went on a mission trip to the natives called "Subanons." But there hasn’t been another expedition since then. We exchanged contact information and they agreed to help us out regarding the local mountains when we return to Dipolog. This confirmed that God had a plan – and this divine connection was part of it. Praise God!
As I write this I’m back in Manila. As I was flying to Mindanao I had in mind to bring inspiration to the pastors there having previously known their hardships in serving in the mountains. Most of them have families, and have very little or no support, barely being able to meet basic day-to-day needs. Plus, the fact that their churches are so remote, some taking more than a day to reach and in Muslim-rebel-infested areas. They travel great distances, through the summer heat, and monsoon rains, crossing raging rivers, and in the most difficult of terrain.
Despite these seemingly overwhelming circumstances, they continue to serve; they continue to preach, all for the love of Christian believers and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who still have not heard.
I don’t know if I was able to inspire them. But one thing is for sure – they have made an indelible mark on my soul. They have made me grateful for what I have in life, they have showed me true courage in action, and they have defined for me true love. This love transcends circumstances. When I contemplate my trip, I think it was the other way around. They who serve in the mountains have inspired me.
- CLICK HERE for more photos from Dipolog (note: you will be leaving this Web site)
Priorities on Pulag