Rev. Kleyn is pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church in Edgerton, Minnesota.
Rev. Audred Spriensma, his wife Alva, and their daughter Jessica have lived in the Philippines now for close to a year and a half. As a missionary of the Protestant Reformed Churches, Rev. Spriensma does his work under the supervision of Doon Protestant Reformed Church, the calling church for the mission field in the Philippines.
As part of Doon’s and the Foreign Mission Committee’s supervision of the missionary and the field, a delegation visits the field at least once a year. Such a delegation visited recently, from October 20 through November 3, 2003. The delegation consisted of Elder Jim Regnerus (representing Doon PRC’s council), and myself, Rev. Daniel Kleyn (representing the FMC). My wife, Sharon, also accompanied us, which gave her the opportunity to visit with Mrs. Spriensma as well as to get to know many of the ladies of the various groups among whom we labor in the Philippines.
This was Elder Regnerus’ first visit to the Philippines, as well as his first trip overseas. As a result, he was in for some interesting experiences. This began with the plane ride (twelve and a half hours non stop) from Minneapolis to Tokyo. Then followed jet lag, Manila traffic (quite different from that of NW Iowa and SW Minnesota), and some of the local foods (e.g., fish eyes, snails, etc.). But quite a few of these things were new experiences for Sharon and me, too.
Since I had been to the Philippines before, it was enjoyable to meet again many I had gotten to know on previous visits. But what made this visit especially enjoyable was to see the field with a missionary now in place. We give thanks to God for this, and also for His blessings upon our missionary and his work.
Rev. Spriensma and his family live in the city of Manila. The focus of Rev. Spriensma’s work is with the members and families of the Berean Church of God, Reformed (BCGR). For that reason, the delegation spent most of its time in Manila. The exception was a two-day visit to Bacolod City. We lived with the Spriensmas during our time in the Philippines and enjoyed very much their hospitality and good company. They made us feel welcome and very much at home.
In Manila we met a number of times with the Board of Trustees of the BCGR. These meetings gave us opportunity to find out how things were going in the BCGR, as well as to answer various questions the men had about their work as a Board and about the PRC’s missionary labors among them. The Board expressed great appreciation for Rev. Spriensma and his work. They are thankful for the Lord’s provision of a missionary in their midst and expressed their desire to continue to be instructed in the truths of the Reformed faith, as well as in matters of Reformed church government. They stated that their goal and desire is to become a fully instituted church that is affiliated with the Protestant Reformed Churches in America.
The delegation also visited in the homes of some of the families of the BCGR. This gave us the opportunity to discuss also with the members of the BCGR our mission work among them. In a few instances, Rev. Spriensma conducted a Bible study during these visits. The families were very hospitable in opening up their homes to us and serving us various delicious foods. During such visits we were again reminded of how cultural and national boundaries are crossed by the Gospel as we enjoyed Christian fellowship with like-minded believers in Christ.
We worshiped both Sundays with the BCGR in Manila. The group rents a room for this and meets from about 1:00 until 5:00. During this time Rev. Spriensma conducts the two worship services as well as a class in the “Essentials of Reformed Doctrine.” Some of the families take turns bringing along a snack for between the services. The delegation enjoyed very much our Sundays with them and was encouraged to see their commitment to being Reformed in worship. It was a joy to sing the Psalter numbers together and to sit together under the preaching of the gospel.
We also visited the campus of Faith Academy, where Jessica goes to school. The school is located just a few miles from the Spriensmas’ home. We looked over the campus, stopped and talked with some of the teachers, and had lunch with Jessica at the school’s cafeteria. Jessica enjoys her classes and seems to fit in very well at the school.
An interesting experience during our time in the Philippines was the traffic. This included riding in some of the public transportation, such as jeepneys and tricycles. However, it also involved being in a minor traffic accident. This happened when we were hit from behind and pushed into the vehicle in front of us. Thankfully no one was hurt — not even Sharon, who was hit in the back of the head by a pineapple! And we were still able to drive our vehicle (the Spriensmas’ van) home.
Prior to the delegation’s arrival Rev. Spriensma arranged two conferences. One was held in Laguna, about two and a half hours south of Manila. The other was in Bacolod City, which is located on the island of Negros and a one- hour plane flight from Manila. Rev. Spriensma and I each gave two lectures at these conferences. We spoke on Reformed church history, the Reformation, common grace, and Reformed worship. The conference in Laguna was attended by around fifty people, including about thirty students from a Christian Reformed Bible College. Approximately twenty-five attended the conference in Bacolod.
These conferences gave us opportunity to meet contacts from other areas of the Philippines who are interested in our working with them. Two of the pastors from the Laguna area meet regularly with Rev. Spriensma for instruction in the Reformed faith. And Rev. Spriensma makes periodic visits to Bacolod city to preach and teach among the contacts there. The Reformed Witness Hour is also broadcast every week in Bacolod City, as well as in Manila.
Another benefit of these conferences was that we were able to observe how the Lord has already blessed the faithful preaching and teaching of Rev. Spriensma. An example of this was the fact that the men of the BCGR also contributed to the defense of the Reformed faith during the question and discussion periods at the conference in Laguna. Various questions were asked concerning common grace, the well-meant offer of the gospel, women in church office, etc., and a number of the men spoke up and gave very good answers to these questions. We were impressed. We thank God for this evidence of His blessing on our missionary’s labors.
Through this visit, the delegation saw firsthand that there is definitely plenty to keep our missionary busy. It is encouraging to see the interest shown in the truths God has given us as Protestant Reformed Churches. It was obvious that those we are working with have read and studied much of our literature and are eager to continue learning the truths of the Reformed faith from us.
The Lord has given us an exciting work to do in the Philippines. What a privilege to be able to bring the gospel to God’s people there in obedience to the great commission given by our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19). May all of us always remember to pray for the Spriensmas, as well as Doon PRC, as they are busy in this work on behalf of our churches.