Mission: Philippines 2008
Preparing for the Last Frontier
A Trip Report from the mission “Healing Tacadang”
By Ace Concordia
C4C Philippines Chapter coordinator
If you go to most big cities or even suburban locales it would not be difficult to find a Christian church and the presence of evangelistic endeavors. That is why I believe the last places on earth where the battle for souls will occur are destined to be the remotest and most isolated parts of the world. These are the places where either Jesus is not known or revival is needed. Far-off places where there are people and yet no one seems to care.
Gary Fallesen and Pastor Derek Fullerton (back row, far right) join brothers and sisters in Christ from the UCCP church and C4C Philippines in Tacadang.
But there are those who do care, they care enough to travel long distances just to be able to share the goodness of God. Gary Fallesen and Pastor Derek Fullerton are such people. They journeyed from America on Oct. 30, 2008 to visit for the first time the ministry fields of the Philippines. I had barely picked them up at the airport after more than a 15-hour flight, and after a few hours I was already hauling them onto a 10-hour ride from Manila to Kibungan on two buses. The itinerary we agreed upon involved constant activity to maximize their presence here in the Philippines. The first five-hour journey was comfortable as we rode sleeper buses that allowed us to rest. But on the second five-hour bus ride this was quickly reversed as we traveled on a narrow path strewn with rocks and loose earth. The bus was constantly rocking in unpredictable directions.
On Oct. 31, when we finally arrived at Poblacion Kibungan (Town of Kibungan), which served as the base for our climb, we had the privilege of having coffee with the vice-mayor and some municipal workers. We discussed our objectives, and they in return confirmed their support for our mission to Tacadang. A meeting followed this with the porters who would be carrying the gifts we brought for the people of Tacadang. Gary and Pastor Derek seemed very concerned that parts of the porters’ party were very small and young-looking children. I assured them that it was common for children to help out with matters that involved their village. We had to re-package the items that we brought into smaller portions for the porters to be able to carry them on their bamboo backpacks. The team had a short meeting on details of the climb after dinner, and then at around 10 p.m. it was lights off. For Gary and Pastor Derek, this was the first sleep lying down after three days of air and bus travel.
The Nov. 1 wakeup call was 4 a.m. We had to be at the pick-up point at 5 a.m. to rendezvous with the vehicles that would take us to the jump-off point. This allowed us to save time on our hike up the mountain. The trail that would take the team to Tacadang was named Abas and featured many cliff crossings and climbing on rock surfaces. The hike was going fairly well until two of the Filipino climbers started to get cramps, which caused the team to split into two groups. The lead team arrived in Tacadang just a little over seven hours. The team that was taking up the rear of the pack, which had the ailing climbers, arrived barely before sunset. Everyone arrived in good spirits and enthusiastic about overcoming the many obstacles on the trail leading to Tacadang. Many of the residents of Tacadang had not seen a foreign missionary since 1967, so Gary and Pastor Derek obviously drew much curiosity from the villagers.
The following day, on Nov. 2., the team was first scheduled to attend the morning service of the UCCP (United Church of Christ in the Philippines) church. Gary was asked to share the Sunday message for the service, and Gary’s message focused on how despite the difficulties of life that we all must go through, there is always hope when we have God in our lives. After the church service we moved to the St. Paul chapel to organize the second part of our purpose here in Tacadang, which was the distribution of school supplies and materials to school teachers for a sitio (or distant area) called Les-eng, and giving out of clothing and providing medical assistance to the people of Tacadang. But before we could start we noticed that there were so many people who came that they would not all fit into the church. They were all huddled in different groups, some sitting on chairs, some on the grass, some hanging on trees, and some on a high ledge that overlooked the chapel.
Pastor Derek preaching.
Gary saw an opportunity to share the Gospel upon seeing how many people were now gathered around the church. Pastor Derek shared about Jesus as the crowd intently listened. Then he gave out a call for those who would like to accept Jesus, and 30 people came forward.
This was the summit of our mission trip, to be able to preach Christ, and to see people respond to the message of hope through Jesus.
The following day, Nov. 3, was another early start. The team was scheduled to depart Tacadang back to Kibungan at 6 a.m. Some villagers and the schoolteachers came to extend their gratitude and to wish us a safe journey. They could not help but inquire if we would return, and I replied that yes we would. The team would be taking a different route in returning to Kibungan. The trail, called Almasi, is longer than Abas. The return climb again saw the team being divided into two as one of the climbers was still suffering from leg cramps. The lead team arrived at 4 p.m. and the sweeper team two hours later. After all climbers were safely at the base we celebrated the success of the mission with a dinner and a prayer of thanksgiving. The following day the team made its return trip to Manila.
On Nov. 5, a day before Gary and Pastor Derek were to fly back to the U.S., we held a chapter meeting at the sanctuary of Life Builder Global Ministries. Twelve other members of C4C Philippines attended the chapter meeting. Gary once more gave a testimony on how Climbing for Christ came to be, its main calling to do missions, and what to look forward to. This was a very significant time in the one-year history of C4C Philippines. To have Gary personally share the heart and purpose of Climbing For Christ to the Philippine members has made the organization of C4C Philippines even stronger. God, I believe, is laying the foundation. It is preparation for developing people who love God and eventually will share this love to those who have been neglected because of the obstacles in reaching them.
The work in Tacadang did not end with our last climb. In fact, the true healing of the mission we called “Healing Tacadang” has just begun.
The last frontier will be evangelical missions, and God needs men and women who have the heart to take the difficult journey to seek and bring hope to those who live in the farthest places where others would not go.
Posted Nov. 14, 2008