News from Jefferson and Penny Vann
Most of us would not associate Downeast or coastal Maine with immigrant populations. Yet, there are migrant workers who come to work the blueberry harvest and the lobster catch, as well as the tourist industry. Jeff and I had the privilege to preach at a church in this area of Maine last month. During church we sat in front of three Filipino migrant workers. Imagine our surprise when two of them came from Cagayan de Oro, our home for 13 years and home to Oro Bible College (OBC). It was fun for us and a surprise to them for us to speak in Visaya. Before church, we talked about the current situation in the Philippines, their lives and what brings them to coastal Maine.
During our conversation, we also found out that they are all Christians. So we also discussed about the state of Christianity in Maine. In the Philippines, evangelical Christianity makes up 11 percent of the population. In Maine, it makes up 14 percent. Yet in Maine, 24 percent declare themselves as “nothing” (Pew Researcher Religious and Private Life). In the Philippines, only about 2 percent of the population declares themselves as nothing. So, we encouraged these three Filipino workers to share their faith among the people they work with and those they meet. We later found out from their boss that they are already sharing their faith with the fisherman they work with.
Recently, the Crouseville AC Church and Oro Bible College, Philippines, have connected in a different way. John Walsh, pastor of the Crouseville Advent Christian Church in Maine, was planning a trip to the Philippines to teach at Oro Bible College in Cagayan de Oro. With the ongoing battle that broke out on May 23rd on the Island of Mindanao between government forces and IS-linked Maute terrorists, his trip had to be cancelled.
It’s unfortunate that Pastor Walsh will not be able to make this trip to teach at OBC, but it’s a reality of missionary life that conflict situations have an effect on mission work. The gospel, though, is still being proclaimed on that island. It has not affected our churches and OBC in Cagayan de Oro. President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law.
Please continue to pray for the situation of Mindanao. The death toll reaches 700. Curfews have meant the curtailing of evening Bible studies and services. Please also pray for the many Filipinos who have come to this country to work.