In America and the western world, many Christians are prosperous and wealthy compared to the rest of the world. More than two-thirds of the world live in poverty. Statistics show that the Gross National Product of the world is approximately $30 trillion dollars a year. If you divide that by the number of people in the world (6 billion), that means that the average person would earn $5,000 a year. In America, the average person earns $38,000 a year. In the Philippines, however, the average income is $65 a month or $780 a year.
According to the GNP above, in the world, the average person would be worth about $11,000; while in America, the average person is actually worth $60,000. In the Philippines, the average person is worth about $900. Americans have so much wealth and spendable income compared to people in Third World countries. We waste so much on food that over 33% of our population is grossly obese and perhaps 75% are overweight. We think nothing of spending $25 on a good steak dinner, while in the Philippines, $25 represents an entire month’s collection of tithes and offerings for an average church. Churches in the countryside collect more like $5 a month.
WHERE DOES THE WEALTH COME FROM?
The Bible says that all wealth and power come from God. “And you say in your heart my power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth. But you shall remember the Lord our God: for it is He that gives you power to get wealth.” Deu. 8:17-19. “Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.” 1 Chr. 29:12.
WHY DOES GOD GIVE WEALTH?
Wealth is given so that you can help promote the kingdom of God. God warns us against accumulating wealth and not worshipping or obeying Him.
They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him . . . For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.
Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah. Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling. Ps. 49: 6-7, 10-14.
In other words, people that trust in wealth and accumulate riches cannot even redeem or save his brother with all their money that they keep to themselves. Everyone will die, -the wise, the fool and the wealthy. When the wealthy die, their wealth will go to others. While alive they think that their wealth and possessions will go on down to their descendants forever. They proudly put their names on their lands: Smith Building or Jones Center, but it is foolishness. When they die, all that they have will be useless to them and the upright shall rule over them.
On the other hand,
Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever. Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.
Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. He shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies. He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour. Ps. 112:1-9. (Underlining added)
God gives wealth so that we can bear fruit for Him. Those that have wealth but hoard it for themselves are called foolish and brutish. They are useless to the kingdom of God. They do not bear fruit.
OUR NEED TO BEAR FRUIT
Jesus told the following parable in Luke 13:6-14:
. . . (A) certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
In John 15:1-2, Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
In Revelations of Heaven and Hell, written by seven Columbian youths that were taken by the Lord to see heaven and hell, the youths testified that they saw many Christians in hell. When they asked Jesus why these Christians were in hell, He replied, “They knew about me, but they never served me. They never bore any fruit.”
Many American Christians have not brought a person to church or preached the gospel of salvation to anyone for years. They have no fruit and are unprofitable to the kingdom of heaven. They are in danger of being cut down by God.
In Matthew 25:14-30, we find the parable of the lord who went on a long journey. Before he left, he gave five talents to one servant, two talents to another and one talent to a third servant. Both the servant with five and the one with two talents doubled their master’s talents. However the one who was given one talent buried it and did not increase it. The master said, “. . . (C)ast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Outer darkness refers to hell. Unprofitable Christians will be cast into hell.
In America and the western world, it is not totally surprising that people do not have fruit - the fish are not biting. They are so busy with their jobs, hobbies and entertainments that they have no time for Jesus. I have had friends and acquaintances that know that I will talk about Jesus every time they call on the phone. They tell me, “If you’re going to talk about Jesus, I’m going to hang up!” Sure enough, the moment I mention church or Jesus, the telephone goes, “Click!” Catching fish in the Western world is like pulling teeth.
POVERTY IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines is a Third World country where only five percent are considered rich. Close to sixty-five percent live below the poverty line. The average monthly income hovers around $65 US. Most ministers are far below that line. In the agrarian provinces, pastors live by raising a female pig in hopes that she will give birth to at least six or seven piglets twice a year. The more she births, the more money for the year. We have visited churches where the Sunday collection included two chicken eggs and about $1.50 US in cash. Pastor have families too, and they desire to send their children to school. Often, middle school is in the nearest city and children must leave home to extend their education. That means that rent and food must be provided by the pastor. Sadly, many children of pastors must forego education beyond sixth grade.
By way of comparison, we pay our teachers at our Bible College a mere $25 US a month and they are happy to get it. Our full-time staff earns $25 US a month and our top administrator receives $45 US a month; however, we provide them with a place to sleep and daily food.
Our Bible College students are unable to pay for tuition or books; therefore, all of our students are on full scholarship. The students are often so poor that they own only three or four T-shirts and trousers and the girls often have only four or five dresses. Some are forced to wear the same blouse four days in a row. In Lal-lo, the Bible college there consists of a small dormitory for girls and one for the boys. Both have corrugated iron roofs and during the summer, it is so hot that people faint from the heat and are forced to sleep outside on the grass. At one service, the students spoke about how they had to borrow tooth brushes, combs, clothes and slippers from one another. One student went through two years of training without a Bible.
There are many pastors and workers who are completely dedicated to serving God. Some leave their families to live among the tribal peoples in the mountain regions. They visit their families two or three times a year for a week or two. Their wives are usually pastors too and they take care of the home church and children. The husbands work the land in the mountains and live among the natives. They too have to learn the dialect of the tribe they live with. There are hundreds of dialects spoken in the Philippines. They are missionaries in their own country.
Sadly, only a few are able to live in that manner. Thousands more want to be missionaries but cannot afford to. We have been contacted by many desperate Christians who want to serve God but do not have the means to do so. It would cost around $65 a month to take care of a missionary and his family of four.
THE FISH ARE BITING IN THE PHILIPPINES
There are 87 million in the Philippines. It is estimated that eighty-five percent of Filipinos are Roman Catholics, ten percent are Protestants and the rest are Muslims or un-churched. Yet, most of the so-called Catholics are very marginal and attend church only at Christmas or Easter. Many are actually uncommitted but claim to be Catholics out of tradition. The Philippines were under Spanish rule for almost four-hundred and seventy-five years until the early 1900’s. They were then under American rule and then Japanese rule during World War II. In 1947, the Republic of Philippines became independent. Although the Spanish were kicked out, the false religion they established remained.
The people are hungry for God. Poverty and a feeling of hopelessness have made Filipinos open to the Gospel. Since Roman Catholicism has not done much to alleviate the bleak conditions in the Philippines, many have secretly abandoned it in their hearts and are looking for something better. They easily accept the gospel of salvation.
Once on a trip up north on the island of Luzon, we caught a taxi cab for a nine-hour trip. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch and two of the waitresses accepted the Lord. We agreed to share the cab with two other passengers and before we reached our destination, both were saved, along with the driver and his assistant. On another trip, our driver got into an automobile accident and we had to wait for almost an hour for the police to arrive. In the meantime, we shared the gospel with a number of on-lookers. By the time the police got there, eleven came to the Lord.
We went to a shopping center in Santa Rosa and had to exchange our dollars for pesos. Within a couple of minutes, the bank cashier accepted Jesus as her Savior and Lord. We went downstairs to buy a pair of shoes and two salesclerks came to the Lord. One almost fainted as the Holy Spirit hit her.
We have given many small neighborhood crusades that range in size from a hundred to three hundred, although we have had up to thirty-five hundred. Each time, almost one hundred percent were converted. God healed and delivered many.
In Hawaii, we have given a number of neighborhood crusades and nobody accepted the Lord. At one crusade, only one girl accepted Jesus. It turned out the she was a retarded girl living in a care home in the area. The fish are not biting in America. They are hard-hearted and stiff-necked. Sometimes, we go out and preach on the sidewalks of Waikiki and pass out tracts. We’ve been spat at, sworn to and insulted. Our tracts have been thrown to the ground or into a nearby rubbish can and people have called us crazy. In the Philippines, we have not been rejected even once. People smile and accept a tract. They thank you for it. The people are poor, but they are polite and gentle as a rule. The fish are biting in the Philippines.
During a recent trip there (we usually stay for almost three weeks) we gave four neighborhood crusade meetings within one week. About one hundred and fifty were converted. We should have opened eight to ten new churches and people were willing to share their houses and plant a house church there, but we didn’t have the funds to do so. We know of many pastors who are willing to live in just about any area, but we cannot pay them. Pastors call us and visit us all the time, asking for a job, but we cannot afford them. We already have ten churches and are supporting over forty-three pastors, staff members, workers and students. We have reached our financial limits.
Imagine a fisherman in a lake in America. He has a fine boat, much bait, poles, lines, sinkers and nets. He wants to catch fish and reads his how-to-fish manual daily. He studies all the magazines about fishing and checks the weather report every evening. He buys the best bait and learns all the successful techniques. Day after day, he goes fishing but catches nothing. The fish are not biting. Soon, he becomes discouraged and stops fishing. What’s the use?
Now imagine a native Filipino Christian. The fish are jumping and practically begging to be caught. He too judiciously reads his fishing manual, knows all the successful techniques on how to catch fish and attends many seminars on fishing. The fish are biting, but alas, the native has no money to buy bait or equipment. Besides, he is too busy scratching out an existence to open a church or evangelize. His heart is heavy.
Finally, imagine yourself in a boat in the Philippines, partnering up with a Filipino Christian. The boat is filled with fish and every time you throw the line in, you catch a new fish! Better yet, you get credit for all the fish that are caught because you provided the funds to buy the boat, the poles, lines, sinkers, nets and bait. That is what happens when you partner up with a native Christian worker. YOU BEAR MUCH FRUIT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND LAY UP MUCH TREASURE IN HEAVEN!
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