When two cell groups decided to bring support to an ailing local church in Bacolod in the Philippines, God moved.
In 2014, pastors Chubby and Alma Palmares came to Singapore to attend City Harvest Church’s School of Theology with the desire to equip themselves to grow their church. Upon returning home to the Philippines after the seven-month course, however, they were shocked to find their church, World Harvest Ministries (WHM), nearly empty—their second-in-command had left with many of the members, leaving a fragmented remnant of believers behind.
Unbeknownst to them, however, God had already set in motion a series of events to bring much-needed help and encouragement. Back in Singapore, CHC cell group leaders Rick and Sherie Quek, a couple leading the cell groups W491 and N518, felt a stirring in their hearts to organize an overseas mission trip.
“Our cell group was going through a revival and we challenged our people to get to the mission field to witness the miraculous works of God,” explains Sherie. At the recommendation of CHC pastor Kenneth Sim, they decided to go to the city of Bacolod in the Philippines, where WHM was based.
Toward the end of 2015, the two cell groups formed a 27-member mission team ranging in age from six to 64. It comprised, among others, doctors, bankers, management professionals, students, housewives and businessmen. Rick is the managing director of Corporate i Pte Ltd, an integrated marketing agency, and Sherie the managing director of NICE Strategic Region, Asia Pacific and Middle-East, an enterprise software company delivering analytics, big data, biometrics and robotics solutions.
The mission team received an immediate boost when Globe Telecom, the largest provider of communications services in the Philippines, came onboard as a partner and sponsor, through a business connection of one of the cell group members. The CEO of Globe Telecom even assigned the firm’s Bacolod management team and regional corporate social responsibility lead to support the mission team and accompany them to most of the community outreaches.
In addition, the firm donated mobile devices, broadband facilities and subscriptions of education applications to the orphanages, managed the local logistics for donated items to different parts of Bacolod, and built tents for the mission team to conduct ministry works at the different villages and towns.
On Dec 10, 2015, the team arrived in Bacolod. Hosted by WHM, the mission team led its services which consisted of praise and worship sessions, sharing of the Word and testimonies. The team also conducted a youth revival meeting with dance and drama performances, attended by 250 youth leaders.
“There was such a palpable hunger for the presence of God and many fell under the power of the Holy Spirit. Rick challenged the young people to be faithful stewards of the gifts and talents God had given them; at the altar call, almost everyone came forward to be ministered,” recalls Sherie.
A fellowship dinner organized for the church’s leaders also turned into a powerful evening of ministry. “We witnessed such emotional healing and spiritual revival among the leaders,” says Sherie. In a display of servant leadership, the mission team also washed the feet of WHM’s leaders. “It was an important reminder that the King of kings came not to be served but to serve. The greatest demonstration of our love for God is to tend to His sheep and love His people,” she explains.
The mission team also brought CHC’s teachings on the Cultural Mandate to the leaders of WHM and challenged the local congregation to form a marketplace ministry. Sherie recalls, “The business people of WHM were inspired to respond to a greater calling other than doing well in business, a calling to be part of the church’s work, forging a new partnership between the marketplace and the church.”
The team expanded its reach, holding a Christmas candlelight service in the neighboring metropolitan city, Talisay. Among those who responded to the altar call was the mayor of Talisay himself. Another was a young girl who suffered from physical and sexual abuse. She was alone, living in poverty, and had given up on life, until, at the service, she heard the voice of God telling her that she was loved, with a future and a hope in Christ. The good news gave her a zeal for life once again, and she later decided to go back to school.
Throughout the four-day trip, the team undertook community outreach efforts, visiting several poverty-stricken towns, villages, orphanages with donations of water pumps, sanitation facilities, solar panels, stationery and Jollibee chicken meals. It pained the team to see how the little children would scramble through the crowd just to get hold of a box of chicken during the food distribution.
“We initially could not understand the requests for pumps, toilets and solar panels until we witnessed the conditions for ourselves: people were living the in dark without lighting. Many of the children’s feet were rotten from walking barefoot on faeces and urine-contaminated grounds of the fishing villages,” Sherie recounts. “Now when we hear that the children in Matab are enjoying clean water and bathing, thanks to the water pumps, we really are overjoyed!”
The team took encouragement and inspiration from Matthew 25:40 as they went about the villages: “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” A total of 1,751 lives were touched, and even more significantly, 474 salvations were recorded.
Today, WHM is continuing the work of integrating the people into the church by inviting them to its Sunday services, outreaches and bible studies.
“The mission team’s message brought life, revival, passion and breakthroughs,” says pastor Alma Palmeras of WHM. “The move of the Holy Spirit is evident. The most memorable and touching moment was when they washed the feet of all our church leaders and workers. We really broke down in tears and the presence of God is so great when they showed us real servanthood.”
The Palmerases are grateful to CHC and its leadership for “sending the team with prayers and blessings and Pastor Kenneth for a great love that God has placed in his heart for the Philippines. We’re committed to making Jesus famous in our lives and in the places that God will send us to. Thank you for your love and support, CHC family, and to all who gave in small and big ways. We are grateful to serve together with you.”
The Queks and their cell groups are planning a follow-up trip to Bacolod this September.