Who knew that after more than five years of training we would have started more than 200 pastoral training centers on Mindanao, be on two radio stations daily, have 5 extension centers across Mindanao, and no “white faces” running the show. Isn’t it great! Actually, it is the first training and graduation that I have not attended, but it was only from sheer exhaustion because of my travel schedule that I did not attend. It is all the other leaders who do all the work. Especially Pastor Ben and Ester Embaan.
On June 29, we had our 3rd graduation with nearly 90 graduates. Already we have graduated more than 300 leaders and with the extension centers are poised to graduate another 150 later this year in two other locations in rural Mindanao island. All of these graduates are running local training centers in the mountains of Mindanao with tribal pastors. More than 25 tribes are represented. There are Blaan, T’boli, Taga-bawa, multiple kinds of Manobo, and even one Cano. “Cano” is what they call “Americans!” That’s me.
It is always a blessing to see these tribal pastors glow with pride. For most of them this is the first graduation they have ever had. Most only attended 6-8th grade. Many of them would have their own children walk them down the gradation isle. Tears flowed from many on this special occasion.
They greatest accomplishment to me, however, is not that they have received a certificate to honor their efforts, but in what they have done during their studies. Among this group, they have started nearly 200 churches last year and led thousands to Christ. These simple, formerly uneducated tribal pastors are making a significant difference on Mindanao island. They are messengers of the love of Christ and personal testimonies of the power of transformation.
Whenever we get to celebrate great achievements, we want to celebrate in style. In the Philippines there is nothing better than a three lechon (whole roasted pig) feast! Congratulations graduates!