The work among the Tagbanwa is definitely in a transitional stage where the missionaries have passed on much of the responsibility but still need to help and assist.
While Paul and Cathy were in Northern Ireland some of the Tagbanwa ladies, most of whom teach Sunday School, started evangelistic Bible studies in two homes. This is hugely encouraging that they are reaching out, walking a reasonable distance and giving up their afternoon to do so.
Two of the ladies are the keenest to do outreach and are clearly and unashamedly communicating the truth! The missionaries are praying that others, especially the men, will be challenged to reach out too and that the Gospel would spread all round this area and many would come to know the Lord.
At this stage in the work the missionaries are doing less of the teaching. At times when they feel a bit useless and they face some disappointments and frustrations, it’s both reassuring and exciting to see evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work! The result of the outreach, so far, is that one lady has trusted the Lord and others would like to hear more!
Whilst serving in the tribe Paul and Cathy have worked with two other families, Danny and Philippa Brooks, and Norvhen and Mina Diago. As part of phasing out of the work, Danny and Philippa have decided to move out of the village in January and on to other things. Paul and Cathy plan to leave around the middle of next year and Norvhen and Mina at the end of next year. It is difficult to leave the people and what has been their lives for the last number of years, and to trust and commit everything again to the Lord.
Now the missionaries main goal is to appoint elders in the Tagbanwa church. This has been on their minds for a long time now and many have been praying. After praying and talking together as a team, they have approached three men who they feel meet the qualifications and would be fit to care for this group of believers. It is a huge thing for them to consider and they feel so unworthy. People know everything about everybody in the locality and one slip-up can become village-wide news!
If these men feel, after prayerful consideration, that they should serve in this way then the missionaries will begin to train them over the next few months before appointing them as elders. They will continue to work alongside them while they are in the tribe.
There are huge challenges ahead of them, for example, how to correct or rebuke a friend or neighbour and how to make good and godly decisions.
Paul and. Cathy’s daughters Zoe and Alethea have adapted well to being back in the village. Both girls miss friends and family in Northern Ireland but the Lord has helped them all to settle in and appreciate what they get to experience in the tribe. A huge answer to prayer is that Zoe is enjoying school and, in turn, so is Cathy!
There have been several typhoons since Paul and Cathy arrived back and the people have struggled to dry the newly harvested rice.
Another way Paul and Cathy wanted to assist the church before leaving was to help them purchase some land that they could use to meet on permanently. This is proving to be more difficult than expected. Pray with them as they look for a suitable piece of land with the correct papers.