We have been seeing God move in beautiful ways herein Surigao City (in Mindanao, Philippines), and a great deal in our hearts and in our bodies, including healing us from some nasty stomach bugs. Our time here started with 10 days of teaching followed by a worship arts seminar. We had invited many local ministry leaders to learn about local arts but also had been praying that God would give local leaders a renewed heart for the unreached in their area, specifically the boat and dock-dwelling Sea Gypsies and the Mamanwa, the displaced darker-skinned forest people who tend to drop out of the education system early and turn to day-mining for nickel and gold.
We spent time focused on Spirit-led local worship—God’s word for today, for this people, and place.
Taking the time to listen to God, the ministry leaders created prophetic visual arts and new songs. As they created, we were amazed at what God was doing in their hearts. From forgiveness to repentance, to intercession. So many things all at once, we were overwhelmed.
Toward the end, one pastora came up crying… “We have to ask for forgiveness from the tribes. We have oppressed them and pushed them down. We have ignored them in the streets. We need their forgiveness.”
Soriano (our host) and I looked at each other in amazement. We had hoped that including the local ministry leaders would stir their hearts for the local tribes and we were watching God doing the work through the conviction of the Spirit.
The beautiful thing is, because it is a collective culture, the pastors were able to ask one of the Mamanwa participants to represent her whole entire people group, and she sat in a chair and released forgiveness on behalf of her people to all the ministry leaders there. God released a rush of praying in the Spirit and tears of repentance flowed from their hearts. We do not know exactly what will happen as a result of our time here, but we know God started something amazing.
Testimonies from the seminar were overwhelmingly beautiful. According one pastor that attended there was a “great realignment and refocusing.” Our host remarked that, “This is a different kind of seminar than what we are used to. Usually, you just bring your notebook and receive, receive, receive, but this was highly interactive, with time to process, time to practice and apply. And it was a time to create space, an open door and a safe place to express their hearts.” One pastor remarked, “Somehow we do not express our emotions but through the arts, we reach our emotions.” As one young local YWAM volunteer said, “We got to see God filling culture!” Without a doubt, the most amazing moments happened when we asked God to take the lead and speak to us, leading us to respond in visual art, in receiving new vision, and in encouraging one another in song and spoken word.
We also had prayed that God would increase local support for our hosts, Mae and Soriano Catulay (YWAM Surigao Base Leaders), who have been working tirelessly helping their local community here recover from the typhoon Odette last December, even buying roofing and supplies from their own pockets while their own house still had significant damage to the property. The day after the seminar, a team from the seminar showed up at their house to start cleaning up their yard. A practical and beautiful act of love and service for this family who does so much here!
We know we have only seen the beginning of a sincere and beautiful work of the Lord here. Our Incarnate team was struck with a sense of thankfulness and awestruck humility at what an honor it was to see God move this way. We got to experience how Spirit-led artistry, prayer, and scripture engagement is a shortcut to the heart and to the emotions, which opens and allows us to receive the living and active Word of God (rhema) together for this time and place (kairos), and through the arts, we can also express the Word of God to others in a way that penetrates their hearts, allowing them to be led by the Holy Spirit into their own personal and collective areas of repentance, reconciliation, and healing.
Jesus is coming! Make the way straight!
Our approach in songwritiig is super simple.
We asked two questions:
1) “What is God saying today for this time and place?”
2) “How do we want to respond?”
Then we gave time to listen to the Lord and create together. The YWAM team here has a powerhouse youth ministry and this was one of the new compositions written from the day. It’s brand new so enjoy the beginning as they play it for LITERALLY the first time and watch it heat up til the end with everyone joining in. Don’t have the exact translation yet but basic idea is that God loves Surigao (our city)! These are the moments we dream of seeing local musicians worship and celebrate with such freedom!
We have been able to have what we need to give generously because of your generosity, purchasing things for people we meet as they need—in ways we may not even know until heaven. Your generosity makes this possible for us so we thank God for you and pray that He increases your storehouse so that you may continue to support to His work in the world.
We have the opportunity to engage deeply with the Mamanwa people the rest of our time here. While our team serves in the village this week, I will be facilitating a think tank with some local university and education board personnel to work toward their goal of collecting a compendium ethnographic materials, develop mother-tongue curriculum and establish land rights for the Mamanwa. We all want to see dignity for the Mamanwa. Please pray for wisdom for me as I have been asked to do this and I am not sure I have the insight they need. May God’s grace lead us toward positive solutions of mercy, compassion, justice and shalom.
We are about three weeks from our move to the Middle East. We are asking God for traveling mercies and wisdom as we meet new friends there to know who to partner with long term. We will be serving ten hours a week at a house of prayer there while we pray and seek out more long-term possibilities.
One possibility we are praying about is long-term living space over a cafe/music/arts studio. To our knowledge this type of space does not yet exist in our destination city. We want to have a space where we can host people who need housing and training and cultivate a vibrant, multi-cultural community of Jesus-worshiping believers. We have no idea where this would be. This would also require a big financial buy-in. If you are interested in partnering with us in this prayerful step, please reach out and let us know…very beginning steps with this idea so far. We would need a whole village behind us for this idea to work.