The Martin's Newsletter

May-June 1997

Dear Friends,

For years now I have written to you about the men sent out from Iloilo Baptist College to start churches. I don't think I've ever written about the men who are the leaders of Iloilo Baptist Church and college. There are six men who have been at IBC for at least 16 years who lead this work. They are between 34 and 41 years old. We've grown very close through the years and I believe one reason God has blessed this work is because of the devotion of these men and the sacrifice they have made for the cause of Christ.

Let me share with you the story of Raffy Luberas. He was one of our first converts here in late 1977. In fact, he was one of 4 convert baptized at our first baptism service.

Raffy Luberas was one of seven children. His father was a policeman. He grew up in Himalayan, on the Island if Negros. After graduating from high school, he came to Iloilo city and enrolled in Western Institute of Technology where he took a Marine course.

I had only been in the Philippines a few days when I saw him and some of his friends playing basketball. I invited them to our service and Raffy and 5 of his friends came. Actually, Raffy later admitted, he was looking for girls, not the Lord, but the Lord had other thing in mind! The night Raffy received Jesus Christ as his personal Savior! That was before we had a church building. We were just meeting in our small rented apartment. Later we drove to the ocean and I baptized Raffy and several others. Little did I know the Lord would greatly use him in the years to come.

Raffy began to grow in the Lord and eventually married our first staff worker--Alda Delgado--a graduate of Bob Hughes' Bible college in Cebu City.

After Raffy graduated from college in 1979, he went to Manila. He worked there for two years as a security guard. Then he returned to Iloilo and got a job with an inter-island cargo ship. Raffy took the job against my advice and against God's will, as he was later to learn.

For two months he worked on the ship, believing it to be the first stepping stone to his childhood dream of becoming a seaman, traveling the world, and making lots of money.

On January 21, 1981, the Lord decided to stop this "Jonah". The ship, with 24 crew members, was sailing off the coast of Zamboanga del Norte (southern Philippines). Raffy was on duty when the ship ran aground and began taking in water. All the crew ran to try to prevent the ship from sinking. They tried to put out water with their emergency pump, but it was no match with the water rushing in through the huge hole.

At 8:30 PM, the captain shouted "Abandon ship!" Raffy put on a worn out life jacket and jumped into the sea. As soon as he landed, his jacket was destroyed. A friend with a life ring was close by so Raffy and his friend shared the ring. The Lord began to impress on Raffy that he should speak to this friend about getting saved. In the midst of that frightening experience, that young man bowed his head and asked Jesus to be his Savior.

As they continued to float, a large piece of wood floated by and Raffy grabbed onto it. Throughout the dark night as the waves got worse, each of the men kept shouting to each other to make sure they were all still there. Finally about 1:00AM, when Raffy shouted, no one answered him. For 13 long hours he floated. He became very cold and he had painful wounds from where the wood and rope were rubbing against him. The salt water began to sting. He became very tired and hungry. It seemed God kept reminding him that he had at one time surrendered to serve the Lord in full time Christian service, but that he had gone back on his promise. At that moment, Raffy decided to let Jesus be the Lord of his life. The next day a fisherman in his small boat found Raffy just in time--he began to see some sharks! He summoned the authorities to go look for the rest of the crew. Raffy is very grateful that they were all saved.

He returned to Iloilo Baptist Church, where he has served the Lord ever since. He started with a Sunday School class and it wasn't long before he was preaching. He has been on the church staff for 12 years now.

God has blessed him and his wife with two sons. Besides teaching in the bible college and helping with the work scholarship program, he is also in charge of the Home Church Services, a ministry in which the men in our bible College go into homes and conduct preaching services. He leads a ministry where men go to the local fishing port and go soulwinning on Sunday and Friday nights as the fishing boats come in. He is in charge of building projects for the church and school. He also preaches in one of the Sunday morning adult services at IBC twice a month and is presently dean of men at IBC> He is affectionately called "Daddy" by many of the bible students because he serves as a father to so many students who are in college and away from families.

Recently he shared a story that he says was the happiest moment in his life. He explains:

"One time I went home to visit my parents. I was informed by a friend in our home place, that one of my friends was very sick. He told me my friend was in the hospital. I told him I would visit him. I went to the hospital and when I saw him laying in the bed I asked him, ‘How are you Rod?' He said, ‘I'm waiting for my final day.' Ever since I got saved, he was on my prayer list because he was my closest friend. I wanted him to be saved. So, when he said that, I thought this would be the time to share with him about salvation. I witnessed to him. He received Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. After I witnessed to him I asked him, ‘If God will take your life today, are you ready?' He said, ‘yes.' I asked him why and he answered, ‘Because I received Jesus Christ as my own personal savior.'

That was the happiest moment in my life, because my very closest friend received Christ.

The next day I went home to Iloilo. After 3 days I received a letter informing me that my friend died. He went to heaven. I thank God because I took the time to share the Gospel with my very closest friend."

I think you can see that this man has his priorities in life where they should be. Please pray for Brother Raffy Luberas and these other men who are faithfully serving God!

Sincerely In Christ,

Rick Martin

PO Box 88
Iloilo, Philippines 5000
HOME PHONE: 320-4557

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