In A Time Like This

Posted by Site Admin On 12:01 AM

by Bro. Joseph Gimang

The Sunday after Pastor Geroy’s stroke was a day of trust and faith among the members of Grace Baptist Church (GBC) of Mandaue (Cebu) as well as many other Christians as everyone came together in prayer, thanksgiving and petition to God for his healing. We are sharing with you an excerpt from the sermon delivered at GBC Mandaue on 19 September 2010.

   A week before the stroke, during Wednesday Prayer Meeting, Pastor Geroy enumerated the trials that many members and workers of Grace Baptist Church (GBC) of Mandaue experienced. In August and September 2010, several hardships occurred among us namely, appendicitis, amoeba, dengue fevers, and the death of a love one. I was uncomfortable when on last Sunday’s sermon, he said, “This could be my last sermon…. God is directing our lives in whatever way that pleases Him.”

   Three days later, we received the news that Pastor suffered a mild stroke in Bukidnon. He only finished two days of his 4-day modular sessions on Church Administration to pastors. He is the seventh victim of the seven calamities within seven weeks at GBC Mandaue.
   Is God angry with us? What is He trying to accomplish in all these so-called calamities?

   In John 9:1-4, John told the story of a man born blind whom the Lord Jesus healed. Here, we point out reasons why God allows undesirable things to happen. 
1As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (His disciples have the notion that suffering is a punishment of sin. And it’s true. God does send suffering as punishment for our sin but not in this case.)3Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (In other words, this happened so that God’s glory might be demonstrated. Then, he kept on teaching them.) 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.

   So, God allows hardships to happen 1) as punishment for sin, 2) as demonstration of His glory or 3) to teach His people.

   How should GBC Mandaue view these circumstances?

   Let’s compare our church with the church in Jerusalem in Acts 12. The believers in Jerusalem were starting a church. We too are starting a church in Mandaue City. Their ministry was expanding to the Gentiles. Our church is also expanding through many ministries and outreaches in different parts of Cebu Province. The Jerusalem Church experienced calamities of famine and persecution. We are experiencing calamities of sickness and accidents. King Herod killed James the brother of John with a sword. Many of us got sick while some suffered the death of love one. Peter, the leader of Jerusalem Church, was imprisoned. Pastor Geroy, our leader is in the hospital. What a parallel situation!

   How did the Jerusalem Church respond? Verse 5: So, Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. The divine answer came. An angel of the Lord rescued Peter from prison. Peter then came to the house-church where many are gathering and praying. When he knocked at the door, a servant girl came to answer. She recognized his voice and in her joy did not open the gate but ran to where the believers are and reported that Peter was standing outside. But the believers said, "You are out of your mind." They did not believe.  Some suggested, "It is his angel!" Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.

   How is our church responding? Upon hearing the news, text messages are streaming asking everyone to pray. Last Wednesday, we prayed like never before. With tears flowing from our eyes, earnest prayers were offered for Pastor Geroy’s safety and recovery. This spirit continued all throughout the week in our homes, our schools and in our offices. We did what we needed to do – we prayed.

   Sometimes, when things like this happen, we ask God, “Why?” Yet we don’t need to understand and know everything in order to trust Him. (Proverbs 3:5-6). God knows what He is doing and He is in complete control of everything (Psalm 46:10). In times like this what we need to do is simply pray, believe and be amazed.
This is bright side of the story. After Peter escaped, King Herod punished the guards (12:19). Eventually, God also punished King Herod (12:20-23). On the side of the believers, because of the persecution “the word of God increased and multiplied.” (verse 24) Isn’t this an example of how God turned calamities into blessings?

   I am wondering why Pastor Geroy suffered stroke during his teaching ministry and not during his stay with his family. Was it coincidence or divine providence? The incident resulted to a lot of impact among our church people and in many Christians outside Cebu, all for God’s glory. It is more inspiring to see a mentor getting inflicted during ministry than during a vacation. It’s an avenue to learn not only from his teachings but also from his life.

   We too as a church are witnesses that we have grown spiritually stronger during this depressing moment. We have also shown the world how believers love and pray for each other. God uses calamities to bring out the best in His children.

   So, why Pastor Geroy? Just how many people knew and prayed when some of our members were sick? Many, but not as many as when people heard that Pastor Geroy is in the hospital. How many people rejoiced when our sick brethren got out of the hospital? Many but not as many as when Pastor will recover. God chose a faithful and popular servant to suffer so that many will know and marvel at His grace and might. Because of his illness, many people have started to pray not just for Pastor but also for GBC Mandaue and for the ministry in Cebu. It’s all about God’s renown. 

   God allowed these circumstances to happen so that His glory will be demonstrated in our churches and in our country. God also wants to teach us. We are positive that Pastor will recover as soon as possible. We are looking forward to see him stand again in the pulpit preaching, teaching and praying, while we sit listening, smiling and remembering that things have returned to the way they were as if nothing has happened. On that day, we will be more amazed on the ways and works of God and conclude that in times like this, God is simply demonstrating His glory and grace.

Joseph D. Gimang
Pastor Geroy’s Trainee
Grace Baptist Church of Mandaue

May this message be a blessing to everyone!

   Nine days after the stroke, Pastor Geroy’s appetite and strength have greatly improved. He is learning to sit and stand. His blood pressure is also under control. Visits and testimonies from believers on how God is working in their lives, families and churches have been encouraging. We thank our family and friends for their continued prayers for his speedy recovery. May God be praised!