In the Philippines there are three churches on islands just off the northern coast of Samar. We refer to these small islands as the “inner islands”. These churches are interesting to visit and the faithfulness of their congregations is inspiring to most westerners. are not so much different than many small, rural churches in the Philippines and throughout Asia. But there is more to them than meets the eyes.
Pastor Vedasto Subiaga (Pastor Veds) is a somewhat reserved man who is obviously respected by his younger peers, but he intentionally sits quietly while others banter and tell stories. When asked how the Lord brought about the establishment of these churches, he quickly becomes engaged and animated.
Soon after Pastor Veds became a believer, he decided to attend Bible Training Center in Samar .When he finished his training, he felt the Lord was calling him to establish churches on the “inner islands” of Samar.
With this calling, Pastor Veds faced three daunting challenges:
He didn’t know of or if there were any born again believers on these islands.
He had no obvious means of support nor a place to live.
In spite of that, he set off for the island in a small canoe shaped boat much like the one pictured here. When he arrived he was immediately told he couldn’t stay on the island.
At this point, most of us would have probably packed up and gone home saying “Clearly the Lord closed this door!”
Not Pastor Veds.
He stayed in the boat. It became his home for several months.
He was able to use the canoe-like boat to travel between the islands to catch fish and crabs, but it was a very unlikely residence.
Do you remember challenge #3? To spend nights alone in a very tippy, little canoe would be a struggle for even a single night, but it was a challenge that Pastor Veds accepted and overcame every night for five months.
During the day, Pastor Veds would visit families living on the islands, praying for them and sharing the gospel when opportunities arose. Then some of those seeds he was planting took root.
There was a large family led by a man who had placed his faith in the false teaching of one of the indigenous cults of the Philippines. The man was interested in discussing spiritual matters, so Pastor Veds was able to share the word of God with this family. God’s Word doesn’t return without an impact, and God called this man to be His adopted child.
With this new brother in Christ, Pastor Veds literally made a beachhead on the island and into the community. As Bible studies continued, the nucleus of a future church was established.
Sometimes in world missions there is a sensation, a feeling, that you’ve experienced something similar to those incredible times mentioned the New testament, like in the book of Acts. This story would be remarkable if even one church came into existence in this manner. But not one, not two, but three churches were established in a similar way, and now they are thriving parts of the body of Christ.