Four years after our first team visited Dinagat Island, we were able to send a fourth team to follow-up with all the new believers. We found that every municipality in Dinagat now has at least two evangelical churches! One of the churches in San Jose was about to celebrate their fourth anniversary and expected 1,000 people to attend. As a part of the celebration, they were planning to have a marriage ceremony for six couples, a baby dedication, and a baptism! Another one of the churches, however, has been under severe persecution. Attacks from cult members caused the church to dwindle from a regular attendance of 200 people to just 25 people each Sunday. These members have proved faithful under great distress and continue to minister in their community through feeding programs. The people in their village are shocked by their generosity. Receiving generosity is something entirely new to them. They are accustomed to giving over 50 percent of their
income to a cult on the island, and some even give their entire income! This church also purchased the rights to broadcast 24 hours a day on a local TV channel. They play their weekly Bible study on a loop, along with additional material, including the contact info of the pastor. Many people are sending him questions. God is blessing the efforts of this church, and it is slowly starting to grow again in the midst of persecution.
There is also a monthly meeting with the pastors from all denominations on the island. Most of the pastors are young in their faith and have not had much training; yet, they are eager to serve the Lord with the talents and resources they have been given.
The whole atmosphere on Dinagat is completely different from that first day our team arrived. The port security guard welcomed us with a smile, a hug, and thanked us for returning. The people are joyful, Bibles are allowed, and churches have been planted. This is all a testament to the transforming power of God’s amazing grace.