Tom wrote a letter to people supporting us in September 1982 telling about a trip to the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines. A basketball team came from the US to play two to three games a day with the goal of sharing the Gospel message with the crowds.
The crowd was always given the opportunity to sign up for a correspondence course that would lead them through the book of John.
Sometimes we were able to direct these people into a local church where they could learn more and be encouraged to turn to Christ.
Here is Tom’s letter:
Some of the things that have been happening on our tour of Mindanao are funny, some are hair-raising and some are just unusual!
To travel to one game, we had to take an outrigger across the famous Surigao Deep, one of the deepest parts of the ocean in the world. We were on our way to the island of Nonook. Our outrigger canoe made it through the whirlpools and swirling currents. We played on an outdoor court made of clay while 6,000 people crowded around the court and up the sides of the hills surrounding us. It was thrilling to preach at halftime and look up into all those faces. To hear them laugh when I used Tagalog to tell a joke, or howl when I would spin the ball on my fingers, arms, and my long American nose was a most thrilling experience!
My greatest fear became a reality
After coming out of a game in the fourth quarter at the University of Mindanao, thankful for getting through another day and ready to relax at our hotel, my greatest fear became a reality. A pastor came to me and reminded me that we were scheduled to play a game across town and that the people and opposing team had been waiting an hour for us to arrive.
In my efforts to coordinate the three teams from the USA this summer I had mistakenly scheduled two games on the same day and at the same time! I told the pastor to go ahead, and I would be there in 20 minutes. I grabbed four players from the bench, some equipment and left to start the other game. The others were to follow after finishing the game at the university. Well, we played even though my aching legs said, “No!” The people were very happy and one of our players led a man to “Christ after the game. I had to feel blessed because God had corrected my mistake and used it to show us He was really walking before us.
We even had boiled water to drink out of glucose bottles
But in Mati City we outdid ourselves! The director of the hospital there is a Christian and he let us stay in the Intensive Care Unit for five nights! We even had boiled water to drink out of glucose bottles. Two players got sick while we were there, so I just walked down the hall and got a doctor. And to top it all off, we used the ambulance to travel to our games and services!
I have traveled to 14 towns, played 20 games, spent over 50 hours on planes and buses and have been able to speak in front of over 30,000 people in just three short weeks. My health has been good and we are thrilled that so many people have signed up for the Bible correspondence course, joined Bible studies or committed their lives to Christ for the first time! I have felt your prayers and thank you for your support every day! Things are definitely not dull and we look forward to what God has left to accomplish!
Your on-the-run missionary, Tom