Several days ago was the Friday before Easter. Here in the Philippines, this is often a time of great mourning and sadness. Hundreds of men parade in the streets flagellating (beating themselves with whips until their backs are torn open and a mass of blood) and carrying heavy crosses, walking barefooted in the intense heat. In some places, they actually get hung on crosses.
If you need to drive too close to these back-beaters along the road their blood can splatter your car and make a big mess that needs to be cleaned. That’s what happened to us, Friday. They also put vine wreaths on their heads, and cloth masks on their faces. Obviously, they make quite a spectacle. I lost track of how many groups of men I saw doing this during the last few days. I saw some of them prostrating themselves, lying face down on the hot pavement and in the dirt, and then painfully crawling on their knees to Catholic worship places called ‘Pabasa’ where people gather in little groups to sing mournful songs over and over that goes on and on and on…
Friday Morning Watch
We gather too, but for different reasons. We gather to celebrate our risen Savior who is always and forever alive. We rejoice and sing in different locations, and it is a very joyful time. Our fellowship groups love to come and celebrate early Friday morning (6:00 a.m.), and to worship our risen Lord! We did this in 5 locations, with close to 100 people total in attendance this year.
During Friday Morning Watch, there’s an opportunity given for lots of praise and thankful testimonies, as people rejoice and share what a difference Jesus resurrection has made in their lives, personally.
There were 7 of us in our van that headed across the dry river bed to gather at our outreach church in Balanti for the morning watch. We are getting close to the end of the dry season here and didn’t realize that there was already too much water flowing in part of the river bed on our way. I decided to try to get across, anyway. I stepped on the accelerator in our vehicle, revved up, and drove into and through the river. However, before reaching the other side, we bogged down in the lahar (volcanic sand and ash) where the water got too deep and the sand was too soft and we spun out. We had to abandon our vehicle there and continue on to the morning service without it. Afterwards, a neighbor who had a tractor pulled us out, and we continued to go on our merry way… The van had already mired in quite deep in the soft sand, and water was flowing up to the threshold, but not into the van. It still runs fine, and after it dried out everything seems to function normally. PTL! Here’s a clip of our experience!
After taking a short break we went back to Balanti that morning with a team. We passed out gospel tracts and flyers announcing our Jesus Film showing later that evening. We estimated close to 90-100 people gathered in the evening for the film showing, and a number of them wanted to pray to receive the Lord. Glory glory hallelujah!