White Unto Harvest
A Brief History of Churches of Christ in Palawan, the Philippines, and its Chief City, Puerto Princesa
William R. Lagan, Sr.
The Agbisits are an instrument of God for the Church of Christ started in Palawan. It started in the 1960's in Narra, a municipality of Palawan, that has around forty thousand registered voters. Among the Agbisits only one son, brother Fred, had a formal education in the Bible. He graduated from the P.B.C. (the Philippine Bible College) in Baguio. He has a bachelor's degree in theology (BTH). The parents of the Agbisits were reared among the liberals, so the Church of Christ here in Palawan was formerly liberal. Through the efforts of American brethren like Wallace Little, for example, when he was a member of the U.S. military, things changed. He is one of the bravest soldiers of Christ sent by God in the Philippines. He is the instrument of God that helped convert brother Fred to the conservative view. Brother Little did many good things in the work of the Lord here. Let us pray for his soul that God might help him go back to the truth of the New Testament. I know that they were blinded by their belief that a man might have a concubine without sinning. I am much concerned about his soul.
In the midst of the period between 1965 and 1970 brother Fred returned home to Palawan. There he started to teach the whole truth of the Bible. Many denominational Pastors were won to Christ through his preaching. He reached many towns, such as Brookespoint, Palawan, which has a population of seventy thousand. Here he converted many souls to Christ, but most of the converts there are not as strong in the faith as they formerly were. Some of them have gone back to their former denomination. Maybe this was because of the so-called support (financial); maybe this was a case of their being not strong in the faith (This is my observation). I was converted in 1980 through the efforts again of brother Little. After a 3 day lectureship I decided to be baptized into Christ. Right after my conversion I talked to brother Fred about having continuous rigid Bible study and training. So, in a matter of 3 months, I learned the different doctrine of Christ after my rigid and constant study with him. Brethren, due to our former hard situation, though it was needful for me to serve in the Lord's vineyard, I still needed to work to support my family. Therefore, we moved to Bataraza, a town having a total population of more or less 30,000. There I applied for a job in a mining firm, the Rio Tuba Nickle Mining Corporation (RTNMC). Here I worked for perhaps a year as a lead man having a good salary. A letter came from brother Fred inviting us to work in the city. He said that I and my wife would be a great help in the work because we work hand in hand. We are maybe the only husband and wife working together in the church of Christ in Palawan. (Please be understanding. This is not to put ourselves up.) After receiving the above letter my family and I packed up our things and moved to Puerto Princesa
In 1981 I met an American missionary and his wife who were roaming around the Philippines and other countries. I mention them here to make brethren aware of the problems such brethren cause. They did not have a strong conviction in the Lord and did not stay establish in the faith the churches they started. One example of this was in a Vietnamese Refugee Camp here where they started a church but then became discouraged about the poverty of these Vietnamese brethren. Kindly understand that I am not trying to destroy the reputation of this couple but trying to avoid wasting time and effort.
In 1983 I separated from brother Agbisit because he was very fond of accepting liberals in the pulpit. His reason for this was that they were his former companions. Of course I told him that they were his former companions in error and that now we are in the light of the New Testament. We are no longer to be equally yoked to those false teachings. We just gathered together in our rented house. We started with 7 people. These included 3 members who are very close to us. With the help of God and fervent prayers our number reached 18 before I left the work in 1985 to brother Sanchez, a preacher who came from Cebu. I moved to Tigman. We started there with 5 souls. Through our constant efforts and prayers our number reached 16. I then moved again to Puerto Princesa because the church had been scattered and many had gone astray because of the stumblingblock the Sanchez family presented. Brother Sanchez got sick and this brought about his early death. During this time of restoration we needed strong determination and sacrifices in our services to the Lord.
In that same year (1988) a brother invited me to go to Jolo because his first cousin, a former Pastor in the Baptist Church, wanted to hear our preaching. I presented to him the simple plan of salvation. Right after my teaching he and his wife decided to be baptized. This caused me to start working to establish a church there in Jolo. I thank God for this because, before this happened, one brother who is a college graduate was the one who filled my absence in the pulpit in the city. His name is Magarce. It is sad to report that both this brother and his wife are longer in fellowship with us. Pray for them and the church at Jolo.
In 1989-1990 I was also involved in studies with Vietnamese people. We baptized 8 souls into Christ during this time. One of them still writes us and even sent us some support one time. I hope and pray that you will remember these brethren in your prayers.
In the year 1992 I reconciled with brother Fred. This happened because he stopped fellowshipping liberal brethren. At this time the brethren who had been meeting in our house merged with the city church Puerto Princesa. This was a big encouragement to brother McDonald. I thank God with regards to this matter for brother McDonald. He was the instrument of God that we might be reconciled for the cause of Christ. Pray for us. In the same year I decided to go to Aramaywan church whose supported preacher was being a stumblingblock to the church. He had eloped with a lady (non-Christian) though he was already married to another woman. This caused much ruin in the church in this area. I stayed with this church for almost one year during this time which we were able to build up the whole body there with the help of fervent prayers. Then, after our time in Aramaywan, about the time of the burial of brother Fred Agbisit's wife, I learned that there were living members of the Tagdao church. This new work was part of our continuous fighting the good fight of faith. This is so because of the many discussions we took part in before the beginning of the work here. As you know, brethren, even the majority of the people in Palawan are natives. They are very receptive to the word of God. Actually, we had just baptized 5 souls into Christ. Just the week before the Tagdao church started with only one member (a former member). It was originally started by brother Elenoi Agbisit, an elder brother of brother Fred, but due to financial constraint the work here had not been continued until 1981. This took place during the visit of brethren Warren Berkley and John McCort. During my work at Tagdao I took part in training a good number of potential preachers to help us in the work of the Lord. During my time with this church one of our sons who is preaching as of now in Iniaran invited us to help him conduct a Gospel meeting there. This meeting reaped 10 souls. How great is our God. Now the Iniaran church is continuously doing its work for the Lord.
I hope and pray that you all will include us in your prayers regularly and remember those brethren who need your financial assistance. I am appealing to all brethren who have the opportunity to give support. Let us do what we can for the cause of Christ elsewhere while it is day and while we have life! No one knows when our end will be. Only God knows this. God bless all of you who can read this poor article of mine. Maybe this is the cause of my hypertension (stroke) high blood pressure. See, brethren? Who could know that I would suffer stroke in our poor financial situation? We do not have enough food to eat like what you have. But, as I said, no one knows when is the end of our life. I look forward, Lord willing, to doing further work, including in the remotest part of our province in Western Palawan. Thanks to all the brethren that support our Lord's work.
Note: To anyone who reads this article and wants to help please know that Palawan is a very wide field for evangelism and the fields are white for harvest. The basic hindrance is financial assistance. Anyone who would like to participate will be highly appreciated and I will be happy to give addresses of workers for you to help. (Feature editor's note: Bro. Lagan himself could use some more support.) I know that God will be much glorified in any assistance you can share. We suffer many hardships especially with regards to health as many of the tribal brethren are very sickly and we do not have clean drinking water. Please pray for us.
William R. Lagan, Sr.
P.O. Box 195, Roxas St.
Puerto Princessa City 5300
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