It's a strange feeling to be sitting in the San Francisco airport on the way to a foreign country, wondering what's going to happen when you get there! That's the way I felt on the Saturday night I was utterly compelled to go to the Philippines.
The week before I was to leave on this mission, the angel Gabriel met me, spoke with me about the work, and gave me assurance in my heart that what was happening was something that God himself had planned. He gave me the names of people to whom he had been ministering, that he said I would meet, some of whom were not necessarily important to the mission, but were given as a confirmation to me that this trip was from God, and that it was not just a visit!
The plane was scheduled to depart at midnight, and I had a 6 1/2 hour layover. About 11 PM I checked in to receive my seat assignment, sat down in the pre-departure area and watched the people as they milled around. Spiritually I was tuned in all the way to see what God was doing, and I had a tremendous feeling of anticipation!
There was an empty seat beside me, and a young Filipino sat down. We had an interesting conversation and when we boarded the plane, I discovered this same man was sitting next to me! I immediately got out the list of names given me by Gabriel to check things out. The name S-A-R-I-A-N-O was at the very top of the list. I took a deep breath, asked this young man if Sa-ree-on-o was the correct way to pronounce his name, and I wish you could have seen the look on his face! He was extremely upset because I knew his name! He looked around to see if there was anything on his person that would identify him, but there was nothing! He quickly got up ad took a seat in another part of the plane, which was not full. I had his seat and mine, so I slept all the way to Hawaii.
Prior to departure from Hawaii, the stewardess announced that everyone must take their assigned seats because of the new passengers coming aboard. Reluctantly, this young man came back to sit down beside me, so I thought it would be well to calm him down. I certainly didn't want him to be uneasy for the entire ten-hour flight because that's a long time to be miserable.
I simply and honestly told him I knew his name because it had been given to me by the angel Gabriel. When I said this, he looked around again, but there were no empty seats, and there was no place for him to go! I told him that God loved him and that this trip was going to be more than a visit, because he had been chosen to carry some good news to his family. I also told him that God had his eye on him, had known him all along and cared for him.
He said, "How could God know me? I don't know him. I go to the priest and the priest probably tells God about me, but I don't really know God." I explained to him that God knew him, that God had prepared him and had directed this entire trip, and had even given me his name. Then I said that God had also seen to it that when the seats were assigned to the 300 people on the plane, his seat would be right next to mine!
His eyes were wide with astonishment as I told him these things, and he said, "Do you mean that God is really interested in me, with all that he has to do? Do you mean that God really cares about someone who doesn't even know him?" I answered, "Yes, he wants you to commit your life to him, in order to let him know that you are thankful to him for his concern for you, as great as he is, and as insignificant as you are."
Right then and there this young man accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord! He excitedly said, "Let me tell you about my father and my family. I remember many times as my father would look up into the night sky and see the stars, he would say, 'Surely there must be a God, someplace, if only we could find him.'" Then he continued, "Now I'm going to go back and tell him that he was right, there is a God, and that I have found him."
Then I asked him about his family. I thought when he referred to his family that he was referring to his immediate family. He continued on, "All of my family are going to be together because they live in a little cluster. When I left thirteen years ago to go to the United States, there were about 400 members in my family. I don't know how large it is now, probably 700, or maybe even more than that, but I'm going to tell them all! They are going to know that God loves each and every one of them!"
This really excited me, because then he added, "If the angels are interested in me, don't you suppose they are interested in my family too? Is it all right if I tell them?"
"Sure, that's what God wants you to do. God is so interested in your family that he gave me your name. You are going back there as God's representative."
With great emotion, he looked me straight in the eye, and said, "This is the most serious, the most important task I've ever had." He knew it was special because he recognized the fact that I had no way of getting his name, except from God, and he became an instant missionary!
The Philippine trip was one of the 120 events God had told me would occur, but nothing happened until two months prior to my actual departure date, when I received an invitation to come to the Philippines. I immediately checked the cost of the trip and my estimate was $1,730. How was God going to supply the money? It didn't take long to find out, because the very next day a check came for $1,730 from an unexpected source!
Gabriel had met me in my office at church to give me the instructions for this mission to the Philippines. At that time he looked very serious as he paced back and forth, almost as if he were troubled. He reflected God's concern over the fact that people would hear the message of going into all the world and then go back to sleep. This trip was definitely not just a spur-of-the-moment thing, but was in the unfolding plan of God.
He said my message would be from the 96th chapter of Psalm and 97:1,2: "Sing a new song to the Lord! Sing it everywhere around the world! Sing out his praises! Bless his name. Each day tell someone that he saves! Publish his glorious acts throughout the earth. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. For the Lord is great beyond description, and greatly to be praised. Worship only him among the gods! For the gods of other nations are merely idols, but our God made the heavens! Honor and majesty surround him; strength and beauty are in his Temple. O nations of the world, confess that God alone is glorious and strong. Give him the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come to worship him. Worship the Lord with the beauty of holy lives. Let the earth tremble before him. Tell the nations that Jehovah reigns! He rules the world. His power can never be overthrown. He will judge all nations fairly. Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the vastness of the roaring seas demonstrate his glory. Praise him for the growing fields, for they display his greatness. Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise. For the Lord is coming to judge the earth; he will judge the nations fairly and with truth! JEHOVAH IS KING! Let all the earth rejoice! Tell the farthest islands to be glad. Clouds and darkness surround him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne" (TLB).
Sunday was an unusual day. My first service was at the Holiday Inn, and was a part of International Hotel Ministries, a worldwide organization. The auditorium was packed with what looked like top-of-the-line citizens. This was very interesting to me, because I had pictured the Philippines as being a place of poverty, a place where I was going to see the gospel really work in the raw. Yet here was my first introduction to the Philippines, and it was in one of the fanciest, nicest buildings I have ever been in throughout my entire life. Men were dressed in beautiful suits and ties, and the women were exquisitely gowned. They had their black hair wound up high on their head, and were such sophisticated looking people, I wondered if I had actually just made a few circles around one of the big American cities and landed! They looked like they were from anywhere except the Philippine Islands!
My second service was on Sunday night at the Faith Assembly in Manila. When I walked into this church, I didn't see any of the wealth I had seen in the morning service, but I did see people here who really loved God, in spite of their poverty. This building was in an area of tremendous crime and violence. Every window had bars just like a jail. What a difference in surroundings from the morning service!
I was staying at the guesthouse of the Wycliffe Translators. It's a big place, a compound, and they have about 70 guests at a time. God had allowed me to stay there to fellowship and minister to these people who have dedicated their lives to learning the languages of tribes who have no written language, giving them a written language, and then translating the Bible into those languages. God had arranged for me to meet with perhaps the most significant group in the country in reaching the far-flung tribes. There were doctors, pilots, college professors, teachers and other leaders pooling their efforts to reach the island population.
Later I spoke about angelic visitations to a group of missionaries during an evening service. As I was speaking, I realized that it might be something so new to them that it could be a little difficult to accept. God also knew this, and he knew exactly what to do about the situation! During the prayer time, the president of the Bible school felt a heavy hand on his shoulder, and he thought possibly someone had put their hand on him to pray for him. He looked around to see who it was, but there was no one there! He said to the people, "This is real, it's real! God has confirmed it. Even though I can't see him, I KNOW this angel's hand is upon my shoulder." He and his wife stayed up most of the night talking about how he had felt the divine hand of God as this angel reached out and gripped his arm. I hadn't seen Gabriel there, but it was interesting to know that he was around and had found his way to the Philippine Islands!
It was there I received my schedule of meetings for this trip. I was troubled when I looked at it, because I saw that seven whole days were going to be spent in only two churches. I hadn't fully analyzed ahead of time what I was going to be doing, but this information really surprised me! I wondered why I had come all the way over here just to do that! If all I was going to do was speak in two churches, I could have done that back in Idaho!
I had been talking to the people at the Wycliffe guesthouse and they were telling me exciting stories of being among the tribes who didn't know any English at all. They were completely uncivilized and many of them just wore G-strings. They still carried bows and arrows, and their darts had poison in them. I was very interested in this, feeling it might be the reason for my trip, and it did prove to be an important part, but not in the way I expected it to be!
On Monday, I met with one medical doctor, a college professor, and two pilots. They had just returned from Mindanao where there is a tribe which had been discovered just a year-and-a-half previously. They were way back in the jungles, and while this group had been there, the professor was able to put together some type of a communication bridge to them. I explained to them that God had sent me to the Philippines, and they said, "We had come here for a little rest, but we don't need the rest, let's go back tomorrow! We want to take YOU down there! God's in this!"
I really got excited until I realized that it was impossible for me to go because I was scheduled elsewhere. I kept trying to think of ways to clear my schedule so I could go. They had a plane which would fly me to the airfield closest to this particular tribe. At that airfield they had a helicopter pilot who could fly me inland. They kept saying, "We want you to go!" But I couldn't, because it wasn't on the itinerary to which I was committed!
I went to bed Monday night thinking, "I've really muffed it! I got ahead of God in telling them to arrange a schedule for me. God really wanted me to come over here and help this brand new tribe, and I missed it! I can't get out of this now, because the meetings have already been advertised!"
It was hot and sticky in the place, very difficult to sleep, and my mind kept whipping me so badly I couldn't sleep anyway! I pulled the sheet up into a big, old knot as I wrestled and wrestled with this problem until about 2 AM, when I finally went to sleep.
About four in the morning, the light came on in my room, and I opened my eyes. The guesthouse was very plainly furnished and there were just two cots in a room. I was sleeping in one, and when I looked over at the empty one, I saw Gabriel sitting there with Chrioni, the angel who travels with him. I was so sleepy, I said, "How did you find me here?" Normally I wouldn't have talked to them the way I did, but I was so groggy from sleep I forgot that when God has sent someone on assignment to represent him, you don't question them.
Gabriel said, "We didn't have any trouble finding you, because we arranged for you to be here! We had a reason. We want you to mingle with these people so they can get a good grip on this message and take it back to their area." This made me feel better, and then he said, "The reason we have come is that God has sensed the concern in your heart that you might be wasting your time over here with these churches, and wants us to tell you not to be concerned about that schedule, because it is so ordered and arranged that every person who meets with you will be divinely selected. They have been personally selected by God to hear what you have to say."
It was interesting to me to realize that regardless of whether I was in one spot or another, whoever was going to be there was there at God's direction, so I didn't concern myself about it any more. I wondered who God was going to bring, so I began looking and anticipating. I was tempted to do a few things myself just to try to work things out, but I didn't. I decided that I might be out doing something when I should be waiting and watching what God was doing!
While in Manila, I spoke at the Far East Advanced School of Theology, and I realized that this also was in God's order. The young people attending this Bible college are from Southeast Asia, and the impact from this school covers that entire part of the world. God had arranged things so that his messages would work up from the roots of the Philippine Islands through the Wycliffe workers, and now he had arranged for it to go to different places in Asia. Students were there from Burma which is now closed to western missionaries.
I went down to Iloilo where my sponsors put me in the best hotel available. It was several miles to the business section, or the market place as they call it, and I wondered what was going to happen here. I thought, "Well, if what the angels told me is true (and who would doubt angels?), they will bring people around. I don't know who they will bring, but at least I know that they know where I am."
I didn't stay in my room very much. I went down to the lobby and sat there watching everything and everybody, because I wanted to be in the right place at the right time. Nothing much happened the first evening.
The next morning I went down to breakfast, and God's beautiful plan began to unfold. Two businessmen were sitting at a table, and they said, "We saw you here last night and wondered what you were doing here. You don't look like a tourist to us, so why don't you sit with us and tell us why you are here."
I sat down and started the conversation by saying, "Gentlemen, I don't know what your background is, so I don't know whether or not you are going to accept this, but an angel told me that everyone that I speak with has been especially selected by God to hear what I have to say, so I believe that you two men have been selected by God."
They looked at me as though they didn't quite believe what I was saying, so then I said, "The fact that you have been selected is because your training or your background, whatever it is, has been directed by God, and God is calling it into account at this time. He doesn't do things promiscuously, and he has selected you for something special. I don't know what it is, but I do know that he has selected you. This is his plan and his purpose. He wants what you have and what he has given you, because everything you have has been given to you by God, whether you know him or not."
These men looked at each other, and one of them said, "It sounds strange, but we believe you, so if we have been selected, what is the next step?"
I knew what the next step would be, but I thought that possibly I would have to argue with them a little bit, but here they were, ready to go on. I said, "God wants you to say, 'All right, God, here I am. I am glad that you care enough for me that you want to do something with my life. I'm ready to do what you want me to, and here is my life. I accept you.'"
These men, with no question mark in their minds whatsoever, felt that what I was telling them was directly from God, and without hesitation at all, both of them raised their hands and said, "God, we want to put our hands in yours. If we have something that you have given to us that you can use, we give it to you. We want you to use us!"
I talked to them for a few minutes, then together we talked to God. We worshiped and praised him for the supernatural way he works. Then they said, "We are here on special business, and all of our training has been in the area of politics and government control, and we are giving the rest of our lives to God in order to help people."
I mentioned to them that the angel had told me that my ministry would be in the area of liberation. I said, "God is smiling on the Philippine Islands, and he is bringing liberation to spirit, soul and body. He is raising up pastors who are going to help free people's spirits." Then I added, "They are impoverished; they are oppressed; these people have been under oppressors for hundreds of years. First were the Chinese, the Spanish, the Americans, then the Japanese, then the Americans again, and now the Filipino government. They have been under the heel of an oppressor and God wants to set them free!"
The men said, "We are in that position. We are going to put some wheels in motion to set them free." I couldn't help but say, "Hallelujah!" I hadn't planned on saying it, but all I knew was that God was concerned about the needs of the whole being of these people and that he was smiling on them.
On Monday morning, I met a man in the hotel lobby. He kept staring at me, so I thought I would go over to see if he had been selected by God. He looked like an American, so I walked over and said, "You look like an American to me." He told me he was German. I told him that a good number of Americans are of German descent. Then he asked me, "What are you doing here?" Hallelujah! God had given me the same opportunity I previously had with the two businessmen.
I started off the same way, "I don't know whether you will believe this or not, but an angel met me and told me that those people with whom I would talk in the Philippines had been selected by God for a special assignment. I don't know how you are going to take this, but you have been selected to hear what I have to say."
Then I continued and told him the same thing, that God had use for all of his training and background. This man opened his heart and said, "I never realized that God really cared that much about what I did, but I would like to have more purpose in my life."
I told him that the Lord had use for his talents, his training and his skills and that he wanted him to turn his life over to him. Without any question at all, he immediately accepted the Lord! Then I noticed that he was sobbing and softly speaking to God. His eyes were open and he was looking up with both hands in the air and said, "God, just think, I've only been in the Philippine Islands one day and already I have a new boss!"
I asked him what brought him to the Philippines. He had been sent to the islands by the World Committee of the United Nations to develop food resources for the impoverished and underfed people of the land. I told him that the people selected by God were involved in the liberation of these poor people. Then I said to him, "You, in your position now, are going to help liberate bondage's of hunger." He said, "That's the thing I have been skilled at and trained for, so I give myself to the Lord for this!"
From Iloilo I went to the island of Negros by ship. My hotel was in the middle of the city, and I didn't tell anyone, including the pastor, what I was doing in the daytime. I looked at the people, and my heart went out to them, but I couldn't communicate with them because even though quite a number of the people speak broken English, I nudged a lot of people and couldn't find anyone who really spoke English. Finally, I found one young man who could speak quite well, or at least he could get by. He was just twenty-one years old, and he stayed with me the entire time I was there. If I came out of the hotel at 5:30 in the morning, he was standing on the steps waiting for me. God divinely put him there as an interpreter to allow me to communicate with the people, because the ones I really wanted to reach could not understand me at all!
The first day as we walked down the street I noticed a well-dressed lady weeping, with a towel held over her face. I discovered she was the owner of one of the stores there. I could see her shoulders heave as she sobbed.
I said, "Why are you crying, lady?" She didn't answer, but kept sobbing, so I said, "I'm here to help you. I'm a pastor, and I want to help you. God loves you and he cares about your need." I waited as the interpreter relayed what I had said.
"Tell the man it is not important."
The boy interpreted, and I said, "Anything that is important to you is important to God," so she took the towel off her face. She had been crying a long time and her eyes were red. I took her hands and prayed that God would put his strong arms around her and help her with whatever her need was. As she lifted her head, it looked as though the clouds were pushed back, and the sun had come up!
"Ask him if his name is Jesus! I've cried many times before, but nobody has ever cared, and this man did!"
I was violating the rules that you get as a tourist or a missionary, because they give you a lot of do's and don't's, and you are not supposed to interfere in anyone's business. I wasn't aware of it, but the people in the crowded market places were beginning to gather around to see what was going on. Before long, it was noised around the whole market place that I cared for this woman!
The next violation occurred when I saw a lady carrying a heavy bag of rice which looked like it weighed about eighty pounds. She was extremely old and her legs were badly bowed, so I asked her how far she had to carry the bag. She replied that it was about two miles. I probably could have asked the young man to carry the bag for the lady, but I took the bag of rice myself and carried it for her. People saw this, and whispering started in that city of about 360,000 people.
As I went back through the market place, people started following me. They stopped and asked me to please talk to them. On different occasions, as I was simply sharing God's love and concern with people, I noticed they were healed of many afflictions, including some who were badly twisted with arthritis. I wasn't talking about healing to them, I wasn't praying for them, I was just telling them about Jesus and how much he cared for them. There were some deaf mutes who were healed without prayer of any kind. They couldn't hear what I was saying, because they were deaf, and they couldn't have told anyone about it because they were mute, but the Lord healed them and they could both speak and hear!
God proved that those people were selected by him, because after that they really made a run on my hotel, and it certainly became a busy place. They came day after day while I was there and I prayed for them in the lobby of the hotel and ministered to them.
Then came the news that a killer typhoon was scheduled to hit Bocolod at about 8 PM. Already the rain was pelting down fiercely. I told the people to stay at the church because the construction there was much stronger than their flimsy houses which I felt would blow over. For a couple of hours I thought that the typhoon had actually hit. It sounded like jet planes were going overhead, but this was caused by the winds which preceded the full force of the typhoon.
I told the people to stop worrying because it would be no problem for the Lord to bend that typhoon and make it turn around. After all, God is still God! There people have always lived with fear because there are about twenty typhoons a year which hit the Philippine Islands, and this was the worst they had had for many years. It was called a "killer" typhoon, and they were frightened!
About 7:30 we gathered around the front of the church, worshiping God and praying. We asked the Lord to bend that typhoon in a different direction because it was just a short distance away at that time. Praise God, the Lord intervened and it swerved over a spot which wasn't inhabited. Hallelujah!
The center of the typhoon which would have knocked down the buildings and houses completely missed that area. It also missed Manila, and went over a spot where it wasn't heavily populated, just as if there had been divine intervention! If it had struck the heavily populated city of Manila, there would have been literally hundreds of thousands of deaths. The rain and the wind made over 270,000 families homeless, but the killer part missed and went over the rice fields. The rice was knocked out, but the people were alive! It's a beautiful thing to watch the Lord in action!
On my last night I was getting ready to return home via Manila when I got the word, "Flight canceled." I thought, "How long will Typhoon Rita last? What about my reservations from here to Manila? Are they now obsolete? What about my reservation out of Manila?"
It didn't take long to find out. My reservations were now obsolete and all flights were full until Wednesday. My reservation out of Manila was also forfeited. I wondered how long it would take me to get another. Then I thought, "Why worry? God knows! He is the one who brought me here."
At one o'clock I called the airport at Manila. The streets were full of water and the winds were reaching gusts up to 196 miles per hour. There was no chance for reservations. Seven to ten days at the earliest. I thought of one of the men God had put in my path who had given me his card. He had said if I ever needed help to use his card and his name. I needed help now, so I decided to see what would happen. When I gave his name and his conversation, wheels began to turn. Within minutes a seat had been provided, and connections were made for top priority clearance. God knew I would need this help!
I arrived in Manila about noon. Trees and houses were down. The flooding was so bad that from the air it looked like the city was in the sea. Literally tens of thousands of people were seeking passage. I was the only one without previous reservations to be booked to the United States. Thanks to God who sent the government official, I was billed as an unlisted, special passenger.
Special note: ALL the names which Gabriel had given me were identified while I was in the Philippines!
Next: Michael and His Angels