A Journey of Salamat

August 1, 2012. The halfway mark of summer already! For me, it has been unforgettable, a journey of thanks or as my Filipino friends say it, Salamat. Traveling to remote parts of the globe has been the exception to the rule for me. Yes, Kathy and I have boarded a plane for Europe many times. Being East Coast Americans, that jaunt is pretty simple. And it places us in a western culture. However, traveling to Asia is a dream I had tucked away in the “probably would not happen” file. There are many culturally rich destinations like Japan, China, Thailand, and Myanmar. I did travel by Koreanair and touch down at Incheon International Airport near Seoul for a few hours, but that can hardly count as a visit to the storied nation of South Korea. This journey took me to the archipelago of the Philippines, the site of historic ties forged by American Baptists with the people of the Western Visayas Islands (central area of the Philippines). For eight days, I was a part of a seven member team from New Jersey, including our former Pastor Lee Spitzer, that worked among the good people of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches. The process of describing my experiences and feelings continues to unfold as I have been writing a reflection of the journey. Perhaps the greatest impression my heart has discerned to this point is the importance of maintaining the root system of a ministry. I know of churches and associations that easily cut themselves away from their roots. It rips and tears at the fiber of their being and leaves them naked and impoverished. The danger of any root relationship, if left unurtured, is the drift to another place, where the core of their being is denied. The success of this mission, where we shared the good news of Jesus Christ with a host of students, was the nurturing of the root system. Central Philippine University was founded in 1905 by American Baptist missionaries led by native New Yorker, Dr. William O. Valentine. It was not, nor has it ever been about domination but rather partnership as the love of Jesus Christ is expressed. It always leads to life. Repeatedly, we heard from the University Chaplains and administration, that we were from the same root system. Regardless of language or shade of skin, we were clearly among our own family. Where love is active, there will be offspring. The word from Utod (brother) Chaplain Francis Neil Jalando-on that comes to us is the making of 1,376 decisions, many of them first time commitments to Christ from first year students. My beloved sisters and brothers of Seaview, your love for these students was mediated through me as you blessed this mission. Salamat gid (Thank you very much).

Palangga (Love),
Pastor Frank