BIBAK: The Baguio Trek

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 

And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15)
Last May, I joined a missions trek to Baguio. It was different from the usual missions trip of DCF. For one, the Baguio trek was a ministry to the Muslims in the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

Together with Tina, Jet, Del, Mike and Kem, I spent a week in Baguio in what Kuya Dave called a “Cross Local, Cross Cultural and Cross National Mission Trek.”

We were welcomed by the Bibak Church pastored by Kuya Demi Mier, the father of our Churchmate, Ate Jana. The church stood on top of a hill with the perfect view of Baguio in the morning and a charming one at night.
Upon arriving at Bibak, we got to eat, rest and plan for the week-long activity from the 23rd of May to the 29th. The cool Baguio climate and the numerous tourist attractions in the place made me feel at home almost instantly.

Bibak Church
Bibak Church is memorable though we only stayed there for a very short time. The place reminded me of my childhood, a part of which was spent in Baguio.
We slept in dormitories with double-deck beds warmed by the signature blankets of the place. It was a struggle to rise early because the climate was conducive for sleeping. Even bathing is difficult because of the ice-cold water.

Though the experiences were not new to me, they were, nonetheless refreshing because they broke the familiar patterns we got used to in UP Diliman.

Bibak also taught us to be independent. Different from the DCF missions trip, we were really on our own. No one commanded us to do things because leadership rotated among the trekkers. We were responsible of ourselves and of one another.

We took turns cooking breakfast, though Kuya Jing, a friend of Kuya Dave’s, offered to cook lunch and dinner for us.

At the Church, we spent the evenings for preparation, praise and prayer. While we were serving the community, we also made sure that our spiritual health was okay. We checked on one another and prayed for one another.
Bibak was our home away from home.

The Children
We enjoyed the company of two different groups of children in the trek. The first group was in a Muslim Community in Ambiong, and the second, was a group of children we treated for a day of camp in Asin.

Ambiong is our main mission field. It is a community you can reach only by foot after around 20 minutes of hiking. Muslims dominated the community but there were also a number of local Ifugaos living in the area.

Near the entrance of the community was a small daycare center with galvanized iron and plywood for walls. Around 25 children attended the school and they were taught basic reading, writing, coloring and values.

Pastor Demi started his outreach in the community through a medical mission work. Today he is known and loved by the people despite religious differences.

We did two things in Ambiong. One group taught in the daycare center and another visited families in the community. We presented two skits to the children—Noah’s ark and the Parable of the Lost Son. At the same time, we also included a simple message of the Gospel for the children.

Two things I learned. Jesus was Isa Almasi in the Qur’an and the Bible was called the Kitab.

The group which visited the families went around Ambiong just talking to people. They played with their children and spent time listening to their stories and problems. Some of our groupmates from SVCF were able to share the Gospel to some of the families they visited. The others, however, were careful because commando evangelism may offend the Muslims in the place.

The second group of children we spent time with was composed of Muslims, Roman Catholics and local believers. We brought them to Asin, to Ate Jana’s grandparents where we played games, swam in a mini pool, ate, watched a presentation and made arts and crafts.

We all enjoyed. The children especially enjoyed the pool. Mike taught a number of them how to swim. Kem, on the other hand, stayed with a child and taught him how to color and draw.

Near the end of the day-long camp, Kem shared his testimony and shared the Gospel to the children. Before leaving, they gave us bookmarks with thank you letters written on them.

Exhausted but joyful, we rode a jeep back to Bibak amidst a heavy downpour.

Islam Evangelism
The most memorable part of the trek was the visit to a mosque. Pastor Demi was able to schedule us for a tour and to listen to an Imam who will teach about Islam.

Before going to the mosque we all prayed that the Lord will grant us protection from the principalities that may attack us. We also had a couple of seminars just to familiarize us with the most common arguments of Muslims against Christians.

Pastor Demi asked us to be polite when answering or asking, but he never restrained. He said if we are convicted by the Spirit, we must speak out boldly.

Kuya Benejim was the Imam who taught us about Islam. He is also a professor of UP Baguio so he is used to being questioned about his faith and the tenets of Islam. He is very open and entertained our questions. He answered honestly and also spoke out for Islam boldly.

During the lecture, we also witnessed one of the ritual prayers of the Muslims. Kuya Benejim translated the Arabic chants and explained the gestures and movements the men were doing while praying.

During the open forum, among the debated issues were the authenticity of the Bible and the death and resurrection of Jesus. We exchanged ideas and questions. Praise God for the openness of both sides.

The visit to the mosque was cut short because of time constraints. After the experience, however, we were filled with joy for as we all agreed, “The incident only served to strengthen our faith in Jesus more.”

Commando Evangelism
Though our main ministry in Baguio was reaching out to the Muslims, we also went out and shared the Gospel in Burnham Park, the community around Bibak Church and the SM City Baguio. This is classic commando evangelism.

I am more experienced in this activity because we had been doing it in UP and in the Church. It was unfortunate, however, that I was not able to join the Burnham Gospel sharing because I got bed-ridden because of flu. I can still walk and share, but Kuya Dave barred me from joining. He said it was better if I rested.

The rest of the team, however, went to Burnham and shared to people. For around two hours, they shared Jesus to tourists, locals, and foreigners, old and young. In the evening, there were wonderful stories from my fellow trekkers about people who listened to the Gospel. There were also a number who shared about their experiences with closed and reluctant people.

I was able to join in the community Gospel sharing and visitation. The group was divided into around five and we went into the different streets and houses around Bibak. I found out that the area, because of its proximity to SLU, was full of boarding houses. That means, there are a lot of students from different parts of the country.

I was with Bethel from SVCF and a worker of Bibak. We went to several houses following up on people. And one memorable thing for me was my chance to share the Gospel for the first time using my native tongue—Ilocano. It was a different experience and it gave me joy to speak God’s truth in Ilocano.
One of the last things we did in Baguio was to share to the mall-goers in SM. 

This is again a new experience for us and we all agreed that sharing in the mall is more difficult. Everyone was busy and it’s difficult to find people who have the time to listen.

I was partnered with Jet and I praise God that even if the atmosphere was really difficult to penetrate, He led us to people with whom we can share the Gospel with. Once more I found myself sharing Jesus in Ilocano. We even saw a student of UP Baguio and Jet shared to her.

Overall, we might not feel complete without the classic commando evangelism in the trek.

Challenges and Lessons
The urgency of sharing the Gospel struck me in this trek. We were commissioned by Christ so we must not keep quiet but boldly proclaim Him. When we left, that is one challenge we left with the youth of Bibak Church.

Our team is only temporary, but they live in the place. They can do much more if they will keep on proclaiming Jesus.

I went home after the camp with much joy in my heart. The message was really clear:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28: 19-20)
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