August 05, 2009 Edition

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Tara Walker is shown surrounded by members of a church in the village of Malbago on Bantagun Island in the Philippines.

Mission trip is extraordinary experience

Tara Walker (right) and Annette Williams, a fellow missionary, pose for a photo on board Bishop Billy Taylor's ministry ship, "Heaven's Doorway."
Tara Walker
Guest Writer

(Editor's note: Tara Walker of Black Rock attends New Life Full Gospel Church and will teach at Sloan-Hendrix High School this coming school year after having taught at Black Rock for the last three years.)

I have always had a heart for missions and last summer I felt God speak to me and tell me to go to the Philippines.

I already knew Bishop Billy Taylor, who is a missionary in the Philippines and founded Missionaries to Asia, which includes five Bible schools and over 100 churches. The church I attend has supported his ministry for many years.

He came to our church in August of 2008. That is when I talked to him, and we planned the dates when I would come. He told me there would be a two-week medical mission during the last couple weeks I would be there.

I began planning and my church family supported me and was very excited that we would have someone from the church actually participating in the mission that we have supported for so long.

I also received support from Ravenden Baptist Church and Banks Baptist Church, and many others donated as well. On May 25, I flew to Cebu, Philippines, where the mission headquarters is located.

When I arrived, there was a crusade going on that very night. During the day, the Filipino Bible school students and about four of us Americans went out doing street dramas and ministering. We saw many people saved in the streets, and we invited them to the nightly crusades, where many more were saved and there were also many healed.

But then I realized that the work was NOT over.

The next two weeks were filled with morning and afternoon follow-up visits. Each person who was saved during the crusade had filled out a pledge with their address. Now, we went in small groups to do house-to-house follow up and small Bible studies.

This is where I actually began ministering. I was able to witness one-on-one and also lead Bible studies. Of course, I needed an interpreter to speak to the people, but many Filipinos can understand English.

It was a little overwhelming in the beginning because this type of ministry is new to me. In fact, I had never done such mass witnessing. It is definitely a humbling experience to realize that all these young Bible school students in the Philippines are doing this every day. I realized that I needed the Lord every day. Praying wasn't optional; it was necessary. I needed God's anointing to speak to the people.

My next adventure began when Bishop Taylor sent me alone, with just one Bible School student, Ronalyn, to Bantayan Island, north of Cebu. We took a bus ride to north Cebu and then took a ferry to the island where a motorcyclist took Ronalyn and me and all our belongings to the first church in our 11-day journey.

We went to three different churches on the island, where our schedule included morning and afternoon house-to-house witnessing. The Lord gave us good results in all three villages we visited. At the end of each visit, we had a service where I was asked to preach a message to the people.

The Lord was with me because this was also a first for me. The pastors also had much work to do after we left, following up with the people we spoke to.

After visiting the three churches, we made our way back to Cebu with a few days to do laundry and pack for the trip by ship to the island of Palawan with a medical team from America. The team would perform nine medical missions in about 10 days.

Bishop Taylor has a ministry ship, "Heaven's Doorway" that we took to Palawan. The ship has cabins and a kitchen and dining room - room for almost 25 people to live on for two weeks. On the way to Palawan, we had to hide between two mountainous islands while a typhoon passed by. The next day, we also sailed through a monsoon.

We arrived at the first island after three and a half days of sailing. The sunsets and beaches were beautiful there. When we arrived, we began the series of medical missions.

At each church where we performed a medical mission, we held a service before we moved on. The medical treatment was not the only ministry we performed. Every person who received medical care was counseled by a member of our team. We saw many accept the Lord.

I remember speaking to an older lady who had tears in her eyes as we finished praying. I knew that she had accepted the Lord in her heart. Another woman who I spoke to asked for special prayer because her husband had died and she was left with five children to support without a job. There is not a program in their country that would take care of this woman's family. This was a situation where I knew she needed the help of the Lord.

Poverty is rampant in the Philippines and it is hard to see for Americans. The houses are more like huts. Some of the churches did not have walls. It is hot all year long, and there is no air-conditioning in most places.

The culture and food are also very different. The bathrooms and showers are different, as there was no running water in most places we visited. If you began thinking about how uncomfortable you were, though, you would lose sight of why you were there. So, every day we had to keep our eyes on the Lord.

I thank the Lord that he allowed me to go on this trip and do His work. I was even able to spend my 25th birthday in the Philippines, helping do the will of the Father.

If someone is reading this and thinking, "Wow, this girl did something extraordinary," they have the wrong idea. Nothing I did was extraordinary. I just did the Lord's commission. If anything extraordinary was done, it was the Lord who performed it. A better idea would be, "Wow, the Lord did something extraordinary through an ordinary person."

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