Pandemic Ministry: From Farming to Harvesting
The Lord goes before us while we wait on Him! Since 2016, Pastor Eric and Pastora Marivic Antonio sowed prayers and waited for the Lord to confirm their plans to plant a church in Camiling, Tarlac, the hometown of Pastor Eric. The great challenge found was that Camiling is a 7.5 hour travel from their home church, Goshen Christian Community Center, in Cabuyao, Laguna. With each visit to Camiling, Pastor found that his burden to share the Gospel of Jesus with his hometown friends and acquaintances became stronger and stronger. He had found that over time, some of them had even passed on without surrendering their lives to Christ, giving an ever growing sense of urgency for ministry to begin. Finally in 2019, the Lord confirmed the call for the ministry of a church plant in Camiling to begin. Pastors Eric and Marivic moved forward with these goals in mind: first to share the Gospel to the lost, and secondly, to develop church leaders and serve the community by offering Biblical and Leadership Training with the opening of the Camiling, Tarlac PST – International Maranatha Institute study center.
Beginning in the latter part of 2019, Pastor Eric and Pastora Marivic canvassed Camiling for the support of the local church leadership, building upon relationships begun in the years past while holding ‘Church Leadership Seminars’ offered by PST-IMI and the Philippine Alliance of Full Gospel Churches.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us! 1 John 5:14 ESV
CHURCH HOME PROVIDED
Then while praying and searching for a potential home church, one of Pastor Eric’s friends referred him to his Christian friend who built a church building almost a year prior. This friend had been looking for a pastor to use the church. Within a short time, arrangements were made to move forward, making use of this provision of the Lord. And with all these God-given breakthroughs, the Goshen Christian Community Center launched with its first Sunday service in Camiling, Tarlac on January 12, 2020, opening the 200+ seat church with a 20 car parking capacity. Truly a gift of God! Soon following, was the opening of the PST-International Maranatha Institute study center with Pastor Eric Antonio instructing. This first class of Camiling brought together some 16 students for training as church workers and future pastors.
MOMENTARY DIGRESSION TO HARVEST
Pastor Eric and Pastora Marivic travelled back and forth, Laguna and Tarlac to continue the church plant until March 15, 2020. It was then that Pastor Eric got stranded in Camiling due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The church gatherings and the Bible school were halted. And in the midst of the prolonged quarantine, the Lord reminded Pastor Eric about his motto: FAITH stands for Food Always In the Home. So he began to take time to raise a few ducks and chickens and to cultivate the church grounds for the planting of vegetables. The prayer was for food for the family and for an abundance to bless others. By this example, church members and neighbors even began to follow suit. Through God’s saving work, they did not only harvest produce and livestock, but the farming experience opened the doors for Pastor Eric to lead two local men to Christ. Both men were having personal challenges that time that even affected their families. The two accepted Pastor Eric’s challenge for them to participate in tending the small farm and listening to the Word of God daily, all while practicing COVID protocols. Today, by God’s grace, these two men have been changed by God. Their families are giving God praise!
The agriculture work that began months ago continues to open doors for people to get connected to church members and it is influencing the community to be productive. After seven months of quarantine and lockdown, restrictions have lightened in Tarlac. Limited corporate worship with 25-30 in attendance is permitted once again! The families of the two men who were discipled during the strict lockdown are now attending the services with others. The PST study center has also reopened with weekly classes now ongoing. Students in training tend to be younger Next Generation candidates, being honed to be future leaders to the Camiling community and surrounding areas. Greater days are yet to come! Let us continue to lift the work in Camiling in our prayers as our FG church leaders continue to spread the Gospel and equip local leaders.