A Miraculous Catch of Fish
Originally I planned to stay in Davao, southern Philippines, for only two weeks.
But the Lord told me - through an inner witness and through prophecy - to stay a whole year.
Despite extending my stay, the Pastor I was living with didn't expect any money from me.
So I prayed, "Lord, please bless this Pastor - and let him know that the reason you are blessing Him is because he is looking after me".
There were two ways the Lord began answering that prayer:
A Miraculous Catch of Fish
We met these fishermen, and they complained that they'd been at sea for weeks without catching enough fish.
The owner of the fishing operation was thinking of closing down the fishing company.
The fishermen were feeling quite worried.
So I asked them, "Would you like me to pray for you to catch a lot of fish?"
They said yes, but I could tell they didn't really think it would work.
Anyway, I prayed for them - and that night after just one hour they caught so many fish they had to immediately return to shore and unload. The catch amounted to 5000kg.
(Normally the fishing trawlers would remain at sea for up to two weeks. They would put their fish on ice, and another boat would occassionally go out to meet the various trawlers to collect their catches).
But this time the trawler caught so many fish in just one hour that they had to return immediately to shore and unload.
The fishermen sent an esky full of fresh fish to the Pastor's house, to celebrate.
The next night, they caught 4000kg.
Each time they went out, they made a good catch of fish.
Meanwhile all the other trawlers were still catching little.
The skippers of the other boats asked the captain of this boat why it was that he was catching a lot of fish, while they were still getting very little.
He replied, "It's because of John's prayers".
"Well what have we got to do to get him to pray for us too?" they asked.
The captains started trying to out-do each other with how much fish they could send to our house.
Each time we ran out of fish, that very afternoon another box would arrive at the house, delivered by a young boy, sent by the fishermen.
It so happened that the whole time I lived with that Pastor, his family never really had to buy food once, although they often did.
The Pastor even had enough excess to take to the Church and give away to the congregation!
The most common type of fish we got was called bilong-bilong. One day I said to the Lord, "I feel like tuna today".
That day another box of fish arrived, and amongst all the bilong-bilong was one large tuna, sticking out of the box.
"We were surprised to find a tuna jumped into our nets today," said the boy.
There was another time when I'd been out preaching, and came home late.
Usually the family would leave a meal for me in the kitchen. But this particular night I didn't find anything. I guessed they'd assumed I would eat out.
So I went to bed and said to the Lord, "Well, it's finally happened. After all these years serving you, you've finally let me go to bed hungry".
"But that's o.k." I continued, "if it's good enough for Paul, it's good enough for me".
I remembered the verse where Paul said, "I know both how to be full, and how to be hungry. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me".
"...but if you let it happen, I'll always remember it as the first time it happened", I added.
I had hardly dosed off to sleep when there came a loud knock at the door.
"Who would knock on my door at this time of night?" I dosed off to sleep again.
But again there was a loud knock on my door. I ignored it again.
The third time someone said, "John, John - daghang isda, John!" (John, John, there's a lot of fish, John!)
And she added, "Kinilaw, John!" Kinilaw was my favourite way to prepare fish.
So I got up to find that the Pastor had been out with the fishermen that night and they had caught such a large amount of fish that they immediately returned to shore and sent him home with another esky full.
That night we celebrated together, eating our fish prepared three different ways.
So to this day, God has still never let me go without a meal!
Whoever would have thought that God could send some food to my house so late at night, and not only that, but prepare my favourite meal for me!
As I lay back in bed later that night I felt so satisfied that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I reflected on Jesus Christ's goodness.
A New Church Started
Sometimes I went out to sea with the fishermen. This is where I learned to speak some Cebuano.
One day the Pastor told me that the captain explained to him, "It's really a miracle: the type of fish we've begun to catch is usually only able to be caught deep beneath the surface of the ocean - but we've been catching it on the surface".
This particular type of fish was worth quite a lot of money in the markets - 35 Pesos per kilogram.
So these fishermen became quite well-off overnight.
The next time I visited them, I saw them wearing gold chains and rings that I hadn't noticed before.
They even had enough money left over that they started gambling it away.
So I asked them if they would like us to start a church in their village.
They agreed. So to begin with, our church sent a team once every two weeks to run a children's outreach, in Toril.
And the very day that I left Davao City seven months later, the fishermen stopped sending food to the house. And yet I hadn't told them I was leaving.
So the Pastor realized then that the Lord had been blessing him because he was looking after me.
One day the Pastor called me on the phone long-distance and said, "When can you come back? I've learned that the Lord blessed me because we had you in our house".
This was the answer to the second part of my prayer, "...and let him know that the reason you are blessing him is because he is looking after me".
But there was still a second way the Lord blessed the Pastor:
One day I said to the Lord, "I would like to have a radio ministry".
A short time later the Pastor and I were sitting down when a lady approached us.
"Could you help me?" she asked, "I have a Christian radio program, but I am not really a preacher, and I have been looking for a Pastor to take-on the program, but none of the Pastors seem interested."
She told us that she will continue to pay for the air-time - but she just wanted a Pastor to take-over the programming.
So for an hour everyday, plus two hours every Sunday, the Pastor and I started a live radio ministry on a high-band Government-run station, able to broadcast a strong signal as far as Indonesia.
The public began to send-in contributions to the show, which became a salary for the Pastor, since the air-time was already paid-for.
One day I'd just finished preaching over the radio, and then I decided to go door-knocking with one of the members of our church.
We knocked on someone's door, and would you believe, they had just finished listening to me on the radio. The chance of this happening in the largest city in the world by area is quite remote.
So they gladly invited us in, and we led the whole family to Christ.
When I left Davao City after seven months, the lady didn't know I'd left, but at that time she stopped funding the radio air-time.
So once again, the Pastor realized that this had been another way in which the Lord had been blessing him while he was looking after me.
The Lord paid my bills for me!
And He let the Pastor know it - so I wouldn't have to feel ashamed.
Meanwhile God had a plan for the Pastor's Radio Ministry to continue in an even greater way.
Before I left the city, the Lord showed me a vision of a Radio Transmitter Tower, and I prophesied to the Pastor, "God is soon going to cause your voice to be heard".
A very short time later, the Pastor was given a whole radio station - not just a program, but a whole station, 24 hours a day.
And the ratings for his Christian Station became so good that the businessman who had given it to him began to consider turning some of his other radio stations into Christian stations also!
Today the Pastor also operates a Christian TV station in the city.
The Pastor and his wife founded a new church to look after the many new converts that have come to Christ as a direct result of the TV channel.
"Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit".