Victory Christian Church – Dreams and Warnings
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident” (Psalms 37:1-3).
About a year after we started the Victory Christian Church Sugnod. We were warned that our heads would be cut off.
Pastor Alagos and TOP were invited to a birthday party of one of their members. This was on a Friday the day before our usual Saturday motorcycle ride to Sugnod to hold a worship service. When Juliana and I arrived at the party, there were many groups of people talking and very excited. When people saw me arrive, they began to encircle me. Juliana disappeared into one of the groups.
They began to cry and tell me that three of the church ladies had the same dream of Pastor Alagos and I being beheaded if we went to Sugnod the next day. This was unusual as dreams like this and prophetic warnings are not a usual spiritual experience for us. Although, it is an experience in the book of Acts and other places. Many times God has warned through dreams and prophets. However, for us this was the first time.
The Apostle Paul said "And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me” (Acts 20:22, 23).
“As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem” (Acts 21:10-12).
At first I thought, well maybe we should cancel the trip tomorrow and wait for a safer time. Then the thought came to mind. We knew the dangers before we went to Sugnod to build the church. Others had already been beheaded there. Why would we stop now? The Lord had been with us starting this church and through many other dangers. He has always been faithful.
What if we only chose the safe road or safe church to plant and then we die of a road accident or cancer? We can only do what our Lord has assigned to us and thank God we know what we are to do. Not everyone knows the will of God in his or her life. “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
I set out to find Pastor Alagos there at the party. When I found him, I do not know which one of said it first “I am going tomorrow, how about you?” The next morning at about 5 am, we set off for Sugnod. The weather was clear and we were making good time. Edna was riding on the back of Pastor Alagos motorcycle as usual. All the way there, I was praying, asking God if it was His will to end my life that day. Whatever His will is, we were on our way and His will would unfold for us.
Sometimes the Lord calls for his servants to give up their lives for the greater good of the Gospel. I had this conversation with one of my elders, Dr. David W. Robinson before we came to the Philippines. We concluded that if God asked for martyrdom He would give us the grace to do so as men of God. We would need faith in God’s will and purpose. I remember I made a similar decision when I volunteered for military service in the Vietnam War. Would I be willing to give up my life for my country and not my Lord? Here is the account of Stephen the first martyr for the sake of the Gospel.
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" Having said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:54-60).
God’s grace was indeed with Stephen. Our Lord showed Himself to Stephen to encourage him. The Lord Jesus watched as His servant willingly laid down his life. He watched and listened as Stephen asked Him to forgive his persecutors. I believe Jesus stood in honor of His brave and faithful servant. Jesus was not sitting at the right hand of God but standing! “Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” We all must die. Would we choose to die suffering in our bed or bravely in our Lord’s service with grace and honor? Either way, I pray he gives me grace for the death at hand.
Well, while on our way my thoughts were filled with scenarios of what might happen. My senses were heightened. The last ten kilometers of our trip is a dirt road with many places for an ambush. I was on full alert while on the dirt road. However, nothing happens. When we got to the church, still I was watching because Edna’s uncles were pulled from their home and beheaded just meters from the church. During the church service, nothing happened. Thank you, Lord!
Finally, it was time for us to start home. We had to pass by the dirt road again. I was on watching closely, again nothing happens. Then we were on the paved road and I sighed with relief. We are safe now I exclaimed in my mind! However, I could see up the road there were several men, maybe a dozen, standing both sides of the road. As we got closer, I could see they all had bolos (machetes) and hatchets. Their faces were covered with cloths. Was this a work crew? A work crew could look like this also. They were not working. In fact, they were all watching us approach.
I thought we should turn around and find another way home. It would add several hours to our trip but would be safer. Pastor Alagos and Edna were ahead of me and not slowing down. I was not going to leave them. The closer we got to the men the more they were staring at us with weapons in hand. I prepared to head off in the rice fields should the situation turned bad.
Well, we passed through the men. All they did is watch as we came and as we went. I could see them looking at us in my mirror after we passed through them.
Did our Lord protect us? Did He confuse them or freeze them as we passed by? Did angels stay their hands? I will never know for sure. Nevertheless, one thing is certain; this entire situation was not a coincidence! There is no such thing as coincidence. There is only the providence of our Lord. God’s Devine orchestration is what I see in this ministry, never luck or coincidence.
Like when the King of Aram went to war against Israel. Elisha opens the eyes of his servant to show God’s power. There is always more of us than of them.
“So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:16, 17).
In my mind, I think their conversation after we passed through them went something like this. What happened? Where we not ready? Why did you not strike them? I thought you would hit them? How will we explain this?
Through many trials and dangers, my Lord has delivered us. I believe it is because He not finished with us. Thank you, Lord!