When former Secretary of Defense Ramon Magsaysay was elected president of the Philippines in November, 1953, I had planned that his home town, Castillejos, Zambales, would be the next town to hear the three angels' messages. Because of the many unexpected ministerial duties that took my time for a long-projected effort, a two-week spearhead effort was thought to be the most logical plan.
During the two weeks of nightly meetings our tabernacle was always full, and how to accommodate the audience in the Signs of the Times Tabernacle became our problem. Truly our message is unique and heartwarming. These well-attended meetings became known throughout the whole province, and soon the bitter opposition started. The devil was determined to poison the minds of the people.
Coming out with a judgment message positively proclaimed and free from offense and insinuation, I have found out that the devil with his hosts of wicked men and false prophets cannot match the Holy Spirit's power to dispel darkness long cherished by the people. When we trust wholly upon the workings of the Holy Spirit, we experience great joy in our hearts to witness how God fights His own battle.
This effort has had many interesting happenings. First, it was interrupted a great deal because of the many church problems that came up within the district that needed immediate attention. Second, the forces of darkness, the wicked angels, came to take their human form and "shadowed" us after the evening meetings, because we had to walk seven kilometers every night about eleven o'clock. No public conveyances travel these late hours in these notorious villages. We can thank the Lord for His ever watchful care over His children. Third, the ministers of the other religious organizations grouped themselves together to hold their flock, but this fusion did not succeed in holding the sincere seekers for the truth.
I have seen how God sends His Holy Spirit to bind the souls for His heavenly kingdom, despite the maddened scheming of the devil and his host of wicked men and agents. At times it is frightful even to think of it, but we must face these dangerous realities very often in the field where the Lord sends us to labor. I have long learned to fear no foe. There is no fear in meeting the foe face to face when we know we are on the Lord's side and that we have a heart-warming message of mercy for those for whom Christ came to die. Instead of avoiding the ministers of other churches, who are armed to the teeth, as if they were in the battlefield, we met them with love and sympathy. And thanks to God, there is joy in such service for the King, who is soon to return from the vaulted eastern heavens.
Let us rejoice as we welcome God's precious jewels who have decided to cast their lot with the suffering people of God. We here relate the interesting conversions of Mrs. Exaltacion Ragadio and her whole family. Mrs. Ragadio had been the widow of one of the Methodist pastors who had died in the Lord's service. Said Mrs. Ragadio, "I dreamed that I bought two dresses. The first one I bought was very attractive, far more attractive than the second one, but the texture and fabric of the second dress were more durable. Could it be that my present stand with the church is more attractive than my newly found faith with all the restrictions?" I counseled her to buy the gold that is tried with fire from the altar of God, and her security and peace would be of eternal duration.
In this part of the Lord's vineyard it is not easy for one to transfer from one religion to another. It is much harder yet when one has been the wife of a worker. She would be despised and rejected—but of course not forsaken by her Saviour. One would have to brave the bitter hatred from loved ones and former associates if one chose the Seventh-day Adventist way. But Mrs. Ragadio and her present husband and three children are now enjoying the sufferings with God's people in the remnant church.
Another influential convert was Mr. Francisco Asuncion, who was once a vice-mayor of President Magsaysay's home town. He and his dear wife have cast their lot with the people of God, choosing rather to suffer hatred from loved ones than God's frown. Said he, "Our pastors do not teach obedience to the Ten Commandments. I am looking for a clean church, so that the vices I have will be taken away from me. I would like to walk with Jesus and be freed from these vices, so that when He returns to bring the saints to heaven, I would be ready also." These two souls had a divided home, religiously speaking—one a member of the Church of Christ's Disciples and the other of the Philippine Independent Church.
Another influential member of one of the other Protestant churches—Mrs. ConsolaciOn Fontillas—was the Sunday school teacher and treasurer of her church. Prior to her baptism she was visited several times by her pastors, but she chose to cast her lot with us. Said she, "I wanted to keep away from the Seventh-day Adventist Church because of tithe, but I found no shelter of peace and love." She was halting between two opinions, and the danger of this was pointed out to her. "If you delay, you might not see those beautiful mansions Jesus has gone to prepare." She is now a live wire, and her newly found faith moves her to tell the soon return of Jesus Christ to her friends.
Mrs. Magdalena Fabrigues, a centenarian, said, "I have sworn to God not to walk in another faith, Pastor, aside from what I now have. Is it a sin to change that vow?" I counseled her: "Mother, you must transfer that allegiance from a church that does not keep the Ten Commandments to the remnant church, which keeps God's commandments, if you expect to meet your Saviour someday soon." How happy she was when she was baptized! It is a great privilege to witness the working of the Holy Spirit calling out God's people.
I think of the crown that will be given to each one of us when Jesus Christ, our Saviour, returns. Many crowns with their glittering stars will be seen twinkling like the stars we now see above during the cloudless evenings. Truly, the greatest joy will be meeting the people we have had a part in saving.
These precious souls, baptized to suffer with us in the remnant church, have been prepared by our efficient Bible instructor, Miss Caridad G. Benavidez, who kept the tabernacle fire burning after the spearhead effort. Also the whole district of Zambales had a part in the winning of these eleven precious converts and the rest that yet are ripening.
From the very beginning the converts must choose which way to take. We should educate the people to exercise their freedom of choice, and to be willing to suffer for it, once they declare themselves to be with God's remnant people. But we must show them the right way to meet the foe. We should never mix common fire with the sacred fire from God's altar, yet we need to befriend even the very ministers from whose care our converts will come out. "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly."
The time is here when we ministers of God should love even those who despitefully tell lies about us—not exchange blundering, haranguing adjectives for their revilings. We can meet the foe face to face with love in our hearts—a love that knows no ill, a love like that of Jesus Christ. With diplomatic sympathy and enduring love we can reach out for the leaders as well as for the members. We must not maintain a "sniper's" technique, but come out into the open and declare God's last warning message of mercy to a perishing world. Let us leave the result to the Holy Spirit and accept the few that God will give us as fruit of our labors.