Note: Occasionally we read an article, in an other publication, that
challenges us in our Christian walk -- in a special way. We feel the
following article bears reprinting as it reminded us that all we have
is from God and for His glory -- that we should never take for
granted how God has blessed all of us here in North America.
a hard time enjoying my Filipino houseguest. Already his presence has
upset my way of living- a way in which I have grown very comfortable.
The alternatives are not pleasant; either get rid of him or change my
way of living.
met Aley Gonzalez three years before my first visit to the
southernmost island of the Archipelago: Mindanao. An ex-boxer with
more than a hundred professional fights under his bantam-weight-belt,
this middle aged, tough-as-coconut- husk, brown-skinned Filipino was
preaching like he fought in the ring- both hands jabbing, feet
dancing and always boring in for the knockout punch. With the aid of
a vintage motorcycle and motorized outrigger canoe, he would go into
some of the most inaccessible places in the island chain, starting
churches and training pastors.
average salary was fifty pesos a month (about seventy dollars) and
his entire wardrobe consisted of three pairs of pants, some shirts, a
cheap nylon jacket and a pair of rubber shoes.
Americans ever visit his out-of-the-way location in the province of
Agusan del Norte. To get there you go seven hundred miles south from
Manila, cross two volcanoes, through the straits at Mactan, take a
jeep ride through the rain forests to the coastal barrio of
Cabadbaran. Those of us who visited three, however, had encouraged
Aley to visit the States. It would surely broaden his perspective and
make him a better preacher. Or, so we thought.
arrived at my Florida home. My son Tim had worked that summer and
saved money for an expensive new slalom water ski. Knowing how much
Aley loved the water (we had spent some happy hours swimming together
in the China Sea) I took him with us for a late afternoon ride on our
On the way
to the marina we passed a golf course.
do those men hit that little ball with those sticks?" he asked.
"Does somebody hire them to do that?"
to give him an explanation but realized it sounded foolish, so I
stopped. "We have a lot of people in America who do odd
things," I mumbled.
nodded. He understood.
hear in the Philippines there are many Americans without work. When
jobs become more plentiful they will probably stop this foolishness."
have the heart to tell him that only the rich could afford to be fools.
impressed with my boat.
is very expensive," he said softly, running his hands along the
sleek fiberglass deck. "It must have cost twenty thousand pesos.
But what do you use it for? Do your sons and daughter fish for a living?"
tell I was having trouble with the answer.
you and your wife go up and down the river and preach the gospel to
all those out-of- work people swinging their sticks at the
balls?" he asked, knowing that somewhere I had hidden a sensible answer.
explained we used the boat only to pull water skiers and for some
sport fishing, he was startled. I could tell he was thinking of the
thirty-two miles he had to paddle his outrigger just to get to the
small village of San Jose where he preached the Gospel. And here I
was with this sleek red and white fiberglass beauty. He turned his
eyes away and said nothing.
back we stopped at the home of a friend who has three motorcycles in
the garage. Aley's eyes danced with excitement, thinking of his
battered old Kawasaki.
people must go many places helping the poor, feeding the hungry and
preaching the Gospel," he said approvingly.
explained that although these people belonged to the church they
weren't active Christians, he was startled. "You have church
members who do not preach? How can this be? The Bible says all church
members should be preaching the Gospel. What then do they use these
explained they were dirt bikes, used only to roar around the woods,
going no place. I saw that same pensive look move across his face
like clouds over the sun. "There are many things about America
which I need to learn," he said, amazed.
home a different way. I didn't want him to see the yachts on the
river, the dune buggies in the driveways, or the imposing church
buildings which sit idle except for a few feeble groans on Sunday
mornings. I didn't want to face any more of his questions. It was the
same feeling I had many years ago when as a young idealist, I
attended a church service when they dedicated a seventy - five -
thousand - dollar stained-glass window -- to the glory of God.
But I have
mellowed since then. (A state which I imagine Aley would describe as
one step removed from going rotten.)
too kind to say anything to me. But last night I couldn't help but
see the expression on his face when he looked in my closet and saw
all those shoes.
been sleeping well recently.
Notes: This article was reprinted by permission from Christian
, Summer 96 issue. Aley Gonzalez is the leader of Agape Evangelistic
Mission in the Philippines -- an indigenous ministry funded through
Christian Aid Mission, VA. The late Jamie Buckingham authored this article.
electronic version is formatted different than the original.
to duplicate as long as the source is cited.