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Missionary Story

A Missionary Story

The Enemy Is Roaring, and the Lord Is Blessing!

By
Steve Bragg

"The roaring of the lion and the voice of the fierce lion, And the teeth of the young lions are broken." (Job 4:10)

We plant churches in the remote areas of the Philippines where there is no other Christian church. There are forces and strongholds that have prevented the Lord’s Church from going there. Witchcraft, superstition and demonic religions prevail in the remote Philippines. They do not want our Lord’s Church in the way.

In each of the churches we have started we have found these forces formidable. But darkness cannot overpower the Light. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5 ESV)

With our Lord’s help, we stand strong in Him. We have coined the phrase The Enemy Is Roaring, and the Lord Is Blessing! This is a story of planting a church and overcoming the strongholds of the enemy. The enemy can roar and intimidate, but he has no power over those who come in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to establish His Church. “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18b ESV)

The Enemy Is Roaring
We received a request to start a church in a faraway barangay (neighborhood). The family that invited us said they would donate land if we would build a church there. They had tried to build a church there 20 years earlier. That attempt resulted in the beheading of two of the brothers and torturing to death the third brother. Even though three of the brothers gave their lives, the family still wanted a church for the people of that barangay. "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35 NASB) I had never seen the truth so powerfully demonstrated until that day.

Pastor Alagos and I visited the barangay. The name of the barangay, translated into English, is Pile of Dead Bodies. One of the last WWII battles was fought in this valley. There were so many that died in that battle, that they made piles of the dead bodies and cremated them. We have discovered that many times the name of the barangay identifies strongholds that have keep the Lord’s Church out. This becomes our prayer knowing the strongholds. It is also our experience that it is the Lord that breaks the strongholds and prepares our way. These are His churches and therefore He establishes them, grows them, and protects them.

We approached the barangay council to get a permit to launch the church with a two night concert. The barangay council told us that we would need to get a permit from the city because of the potential for repeated violence. There had been more beheadings just a few years earlier. The mayor of the city said we could have a church launch, but we would need a police escort.

Our church launch is a 2 day concert crusade. We go house to house and invite the people. We present the Gospel with a Christian music concert, youth skits and dances of praise, and preaching of the Gospel each night. We give an invitation at the end of each night. We follow up with those that respond, and start Bible studies that grow into a church. Once the Lord's Church is assembled, we build the church building and parsonage for their new pastor. The chief of police agreed to escort us with a fully armed police escort. There were no incidences of violence. We were well received by the barangay officials and most of the people.

At the same time, the owners of the only barangay cemetery gathered youth and went house to house the first day of our church launch and told the people that if they attended the church launch or came to the new church, they would not be able to bury their dead in the cemetery.

Our other concern was we had no pastor once the church was started. We were moving in faith, sensing the Lord's timing.

Our Lord Is Blessing
We prayed that our Lord would prepare the way for us to launch and establish the first Christian church for that barangay. As we made preparations for the church launch, we discovered that a pastor, known to Pastor Alagos, from a neighboring barangay had already started a Bible study there. Both pastors and their wives went to the same Bible College together. The Lord provided our pastor. We would be a blessing to each other. The new pastor was struggling to feed his family. Our small allowance would allow him to take care of them. They were excited to build their Bible study into a congregation and we would provide a church building for worship. God is good!

The week before the launch, Pastor Alagos and I visited the barangay again. We were led to a family where the husband was near death from pneumonia. He had been to the doctor, but had no money for medication. We provided the medication and prayed for God to heal him. Our Lord did indeed heal the man through medication, rest and continued prayer.

We were also led to another family living in a bamboo home that was falling down. They had 10 children. The father’s work was hindered by a giant growth on the back of his neck. We were able to provide money to rebuild the bamboo home and the doctor was able to remove the growth, weighing one kilo, from the father’s neck. These two acts of love for the two families caused the people to take notice and help our good reception to start a new church. After the church launch we started a weekly feeding program for the malnourished children.

We gathered 35 people from our four nearby churches, rented a large Jeepnee to carry us all, and we were off to launch the faraway church. The new pastor brought his neighboring church youth and leaders, also.
When we arrived, the people told us about the spring water source for the barangay. It was reported to be infested with evil spirits. Pastor Alagos, his wife Edna, and I decided to walk the length of the creek of two kilometers up to the spring. As we went along we ask God to rebuke the evil and bless the spring water for the people of the barangay. The people had named the water source Closed because of the presence of evil spirits there. Once we arrived at the source of the spring we asked God to bless it. We declared the spring OPEN! Then we all had a cool, refreshing swim in the deep large spring.

During the two night crusade more than sixty people responded to the call of salvation, and many recommitted their lives. Baptisms are continuous fruits of the Gospel and our labor in the Lord.

The construction of the church building came slowly. When it was almost complete, with Super Typhoon Yolanda took the roof and water logged the church. Now the church is almost completely rebuilt and the people have worshiped in the building each Sunday regardless of its condition, even without a roof.

This barangay was one of the hardest hit by Typhoon Yolanda. Many people and some foundations started donating money and supplies to help the typhoon victims. With our 19 churches at that time, we were able to provide 19 distribution points to help the remote areas of the Philippines. For this barangay we fed 130 families about 40 pounds of rice each, plus other foods,and rebuilt 12 homes. With tears the people told us in this barangay and others “no one has helped us before.” We were also able to help this barangay rebuild the bridge to get supplies in for aid. With the bridge out, they had been isolated.

More Blessings
On our first visit after the typhoon, the river was too high to cross with our motorcycles, so we waded across. We were walking up the road to the church. There is a little house store at the entrance to the barangay. We were wet from the crossing and stopped there to rest.

Pastor Alagos engaged a man at the store in conversation. They were speaking their own dialect, which I didn't understand fully. I recognized the words oh my God from the man. I asked Pastor Alagos what they were talking about. He said the man, who was in his late forties and obviously a strong man, said when the typhoon came he was standing here, and across the way, two of the homes were picked up and trees were being uprooted. The man said for the first time in his life he prayed to God. The next Sunday we fed 130 families from the church and that man was there helping with the food distribution. He began to come and worship each Sunday thereafter. Later I learned this man was considered a leader of the family’s beheadings 20 years earlier. He was accepted by the family and the church. We serve an awesome God.

Another Blessing
One of our regular attenders there is a nearly blind widow lady in her sixties. She takes care of her granddaughter who is 3 years old. They live together alone in a bamboo home also near the barangay entrance. The typhoon took most of her roof and leaned the home badly to one side. Pastor Kelly from River Rock Church in American was visiting at this time. We held our annual pastor meeting at this barangay church. The church roof was repaired, but the church itself was still in bad condition. We had 12 baptisms that day. One of the baptisms was the widow lady I’m talking about. She gave a testimony that night. In tears, she said I can’t explain it, but I feel a peace in my heart and I can’t tell you why. Her house had not yet been repaired and they were still sleeping under a table. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:7 NASB)

Conclusion
A family of this barangay, more than 20 years ago, tried to start a church that ended in much death. Now there is a church that declares the love of God and demonstrating God’s love with acts of kindness to its neighbors. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 ESV)

We call this church VICTORY CHRISTIAN CHURCH!
Thank you LORD! Amen!

The Story Continues
Unfortunately, after about a year, the pastor of Victory Christian Church decided to go into politics. This left the church without a pastor. Pastor Alagos, his wife Edna, and I now travel weekly to this remote congregation.

The Enemy is Roaring
On one occasion, one of our Tabernacle of Praise members had a birthday celebration. At the party, several of the ladies in the church told my wife and Pastors Alagos' wife that they had dreams of Alejo and I being beheaded, and that we should not go the next day to Victory Christian Church. I found it remarkable that three of our ladies would have the same dream. This place was known for beheadings.

As my wife and the other ladies told me of the dreams and warnings, my first thought was maybe we should delay this trip. But as I began to think it through, I realized there are many dangers we face all the time. Would we pick and choose only the safe trips or safe places to build churches? Could this be a ruse by the enemy to prevent us from going? Could we be scared off? What if we built churches only in safe places and traveled only in good weather? What if we always took the safe bet and then I got hit by a truck while traveling or came down with cancer? The question became, am I committed to serve the Lord wherever he sends me? Do I trust in God or my ability to choose the safe road or ministry? We knew from the beginning the history of this church. Do we shrink back now?

I found Pastor Alagos. I asked if he had heard about the dreams and warnings. I can’t remember who first said, “I’m going, are you?” We both laughed and the next morning we were off to Victory Christian Church along with Edna.

Along the way, my thoughts were occupied with the warnings. My senses were heightened and eyes watching. Many places along the remote road would be good places for ambush. Well, all the way there nothing happened and while we were there nothing happened. So now we were on our way home. It was still early when we started back.

We finally got off the remote dirt road and hit the paved road. My thoughts were, we made it! We are on safe road now. We were on a long straight paved road to the main road and home. But the trip was not over. Up the road I could see many men on both sides of the road. As we got closer, I could see that they all had bolos (machetes) in their hands. There were maybe 12 to 15 men. Some had masks.

Now men with bolos is typical as it’s a work tool. Masks are also typical in farm or labor work. Were they just a work crew working the road? As we got closer, I could see no work being done. They were just standing there and watching us approach. Pastor Alagos was in the lead. My thoughts were that it would add 2 hours if we turned back and diverted. It made no difference, as Pastor Alagos was not stopping or slowing.

He and Edna were in the lead, I was not going to retreat either. I braced myself to duck and maybe take a quick detour out to the field. I’m sure Pastor Alagos and Edna were praying earnestly just like I was

The Lord is Blessing
All of the men with bolos in hand and several with masks watched as we passed between them. WOW! Thank you Lord is an understatement! Later, when telling the story, I humorously think the conversation of the men went something like this. We had them and now they are gone! Why didn’t you get them? They went right through us. I thought you were supposed to get them. How will we explain this?

I’ll never know why those men with bolos were there on that particular day: the same day that we were warned that we would lose our heads if we went to the church. I’ve never seen men like that there before. Were they a work crew? Did our Lord protect us once more? Was this coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence, but I believe in the providence of our Lord!

Pastor Alagos and I often reassure ourselves with saying “the life of a missionary.”

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Plant new Christian churches in the remote Barangays where there is no other church that serve their communities. 

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Pastor Alejo F. Alagos

Pastor Alejo F. Alagos

My Partner in the RRCP Ministry

President River Rock Church Philippines (RRCP) Inc.

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Pastor of RRCP Grace Chapel and RRCP Tabernacle of Praise

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Pastor Alejo F. Alagos has been a Pastor for 28 years. In that time he has planted more than 35 new churches. The last 8 church plants were for RRCP.

Steve's Story

Pastor Steven Ray Bragg

Serving our Lord in the Philippines

 This is my Testimony and how we got started. (3 minutes) 

https://vimeo.com/88866934