May the Lord Finish What He Started!
by Nenette Pacoli, Regional Director of GNPI-Philippines
I recently had the chance to leave the office and see how GNPI productions help draw a crowd and open doors to present the Gospel. Our mission team was composed of seven people from our church (including my husband, Bert, and me). We visited three different communities.
Our road trip began with a 14-hour drive to a seaport where we put the whole van on a ship that crossed the Pacific Ocean. We got off in Allen, parked the van, and got on a motorized banca (equipment, big speakers, and all) to get to San Juan, Lavezares, Northern Samar, a small island of about 300 families where our church planted an outreach ministry over 7 years ago. We showed All Things New (a GNPI drama about the impact of Christian discipleship on the lives of street children). We showed the drama that Saturday night in their town plaza to approximately 500 individuals (half of them kids!) with lots more watching from their houses. We were interrupted twice by 30-second power outages, but the local pastor was able to explain the message of salvation based on what the movie said.
The following day at church, a lady, who is a leader in the church, welcomed our team and mentioned watching the movie the night before. With a catch in her voice, she said that the lesson she learned was that we shouldn’t be focusing on the mistakes or faults of others but instead looking to Jesus for growth, strength, and faith. (Her tears alone made the long trip worth it for me!)
We left the island after lunch, and we drove another four hours to get to Catbalogan, Western Samar. Around lunch time the next day, we loaded all equipment again on another motorized fishing boat to get to Casab-ahan, another island of about 200 families. (Our speakers, amplifiers, and tripods were stashed among bottles of vinegar, crates of dried fish, blocks of ice, big bags of chips, etc.) The team and I were afraid that the boat seemed overloaded, but the owner assured us that we would stay afloat. Maqueda Bay was calm, so the one-hour trip was uneventful. That night, we were allowed to set up in the middle of the busiest street where most of the people converged. There were absolutely no cars on the island.
We showed the film to approximately 200 people, again half of them were kids, but there were more men in the audience too. In fact, I observed the best reactions from the men as they applauded the antics of one movie character (Nardo) toward another character (Pastor Rico). They called Nardo, “bad boy,” but they grew quiet at the scene where Pastor Rico has a heart-to-heart talk with Nardo. Bert gave the message of salvation in the local dialect, as the pastor of this church was away on a retreat until the following day.
Early the next afternoon, we loaded all the equipment again on the boat to get to Cagot-saan, an island about 15 minutes away. This time a local pastor, Pastor Allan, was with us. It was another fishing village of about 300 families. Since there was still daylight, I saw what seemed like throngs/multitudes of kids, and they came swarming around us as we set up the equipment. I started taking pictures, and I watched these kids’ faces as they smiled and played around me.
We showed the movie when it grew dark, and after the Pastor Rico-Nardo scene, we paused and Pastor Allan stood up to talk about salvation. He was crying! He said he was so touched by the movie. (He was seeing it for the first time.) In the quiet of night, he led people in prayer. We finished the movie, packed up, and got ready to go home. As we were on the boat, our host, Ellen, told us that her husband, Benjamin, made the decision to accept Christ. She was overjoyed because he was a member of a different sect, and though for over 20 years of marriage he was very supportive of Ellen and their children in their church activities, he never really realized his need to accept Jesus for himself until that night after watching the movie!
The movie was the talk of these three communities. We were able to plant seeds of faith and seeds of knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we are leaving it to the Lord to make these seeds grow, mature, and make a difference in these people’s lives. Let’s fully rely on the Lord to finish what he started.