By Eric Rivera Dizon
Two years ago, my wife and I finally pushed through a calling in our hearts to mobilize the global community for the Lord. A non-profit organization based in Calgary, Alberta, called “Mission PH” was born as a result. One of our goals in this calling is to do mission in the Philippines by inviting people from all over the world to join us to do God’s work and share the Gospel with those who are hardly reached. The Philippines has a special place in our hearts as both my wife and I were born and raised there.
This is our second year of doing missions in the Philippines and again we partnered with several churches and organizations. They are: Bridge International Church in Calgary, where I lead as a pastor; Community of Praise, a Southern Baptist church in Manila; God’s Flock Christian Fellowship in Manila; International Mission Board missionaries in Davao; and the CNBC, which provided me with a “ministers experiencing missions grant” through the Global Mission Offering (GMO). God also sent us many individuals and businesses to lend great support to this year’s mission success.
These partnerships gave us the opportunity last September 27 to October 3 to provide dental and medical missions in four different rural towns all over the province of Mindanao. This southern part of the country is not regularly reached by Christian organizations with dental and medical missions. About 80 percent of the population in this area follow standard Islamic beliefs and practices. This part of the country has a long history of conflict with armed groups, including Muslim separatists, communists, clan militias and criminal groups, all active in the area. This is a war zone region and currently under martial law. It is known in the news for the brutal massacres of soldiers, rebels, journalists and civilians.
I can honestly say that there was fear in my heart to go and serve God in these areas of my country that I call home. I was worried, leaving behind my wife who was six months pregnant, not knowing what the future would hold for us once I entered this mission field. Doubts came into my mind and it was a real challenge for me to trust and obey God. As I came to seek the Lord, these two verses came to mind:
Galatians 2:20- “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Luke 18:29-30- “So he said to them, Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left a house, wife or brothers or sisters, parents or children because of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more at this time, and eternal life in the age to come.”
These scriptures strengthened my faith and gave me confidence to go and be a witness for Jesus.
On this mission trip we were able to:
- Mobilize a total of 22 missionaries from Canada and Philippines: four dentists and three doctors.
- Give 300 New Testament Bibles to the Muslim people of Maguindanao, translated into their native dialect.
- Serve 577 people with dental and medical assistance. Many of these have not seen doctors and dentists before.
- Share the Gospel and feed 150 children in a depressed area of Manila.
- Become prayer partners and give financial support to local pastors and missionaries who continue the ministry in all five towns.
Every year that we go, there is always a God story to share. This year there were two moving and memorable stories. The first was when we were doing our community outreach in the poverty-stricken area of Tondo, Manila—an urban area in the capital of Philippines and our fifth mission field on this trip. We saw a homeless family in the street, with their five-day-old baby names Jonathan sleeping inside a wooden cart his father was pushing as he collected trash. I held Jonathan in my arms and prayed for him. My heart was crushed as I returned the baby to his father’s arms as I thought of our own baby as well. This infant boy’s hope is in Jesus alone!
The second was when we entered one of the villages in Maguindanao. There were 100 soldiers with us. They were there to make sure that we were safe and protected as we provided dental and medical care. In the midst of this war zone, God gave me the opportunity to have a Gospel conversation with one of the soldiers. We hugged after I shared with him the love of Christ. I am amazed how God can work and give you that instant personal connection with people when you allow yourself to be used by Him.
Coming back to Canada gave me mixed feelings. I am grateful for God’s presence and undeniable power of His Gospel touching lives on the mission field. I am relieved that God protected and guided all of us and kept us safe to return to our families. I am glad to be back with my wife and look forward to the birth of our first child in January 2020, an answered prayer from our faithful God. But I am also very convicted that our family will return to the mission field to be used towards the work God is always doing in the people there and in our own hearts.
It has been over a month since I returned from this mission. Already we can see how God is working and moving in many ways for the next mission trip in July and August of 2020. My wife and I ask once again for prayer for us to clearly discern God’s next steps for us to take with “Missions PH.”
Our lives are Yours, Lord, for Your glory alone, for we love You so!
Reprinted from the CNBC Horizon- December 2019