EDITOR’S NOTES: IMB missionaries Dave and Ivette Daggett from Florida are featured during the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
Focus Scripture: “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonderful works among all the peoples” Psalm 96:3 (HCSB).
2015 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal: $175 million. To learn more about the offering, go to imb.org/offering.
By Paige Turner
PHILIPPINES (BP) — When someone shouted, “Your uncle is coming,” everyone in the Philippine village knew the code meant “run and hide.” Neighbors disappeared into small concrete homes until IMB missionaries Dave and Ivette Daggett had come and gone.
A few, however, including 13-year-old Berlyn Familaran, stuck around to hear what the foreigners had to say.
The curious teenager planned only to sit in and listen during the Saturday Bible studies, nothing more. But even that angered her parents and the host of other family members living in her poor community.
That’s because they are among an unreached Filipino people group considered predominantly Catholic, but, as Dave explained, steeped in idol worship and animism, insular and fearful of anything new that threatens religious traditions.
“We felt like that was such a difficult community, if we could ever see anything prosper there, surely it would prosper anywhere in the city. So we just kept going back,” he said.
Berlyn kept going back, too. Something about this husband and wife team from Florida was different.
Berlyn couldn’t believe they had learned her language and wanted to teach her worship songs in her language.
These foreigners knew about the drugs and violence in her community and about her dad, who was in and out of jail. Yet they encouraged her, Berlyn said, and they kept praying for her family.
Berlyn was baptized just a little more than a year after meeting the Daggetts.
“The joy was really in my heart. I can feel the presence of the Lord, even when we have problems in our family,” she said. “I want to be the testimony to my community.”
As Berlyn continued sharing the gospel with her family and inviting them to Bible studies with the Daggetts, the walls of resistance crumbled.
Before they knew it, Dave, Ivette and Berlyn were starting a church.
“Some of the parents have come to Christ and been baptized, but most don’t take the leadership challenge,” Dave said. “It’s the younger ones who have stepped up in leadership. They share the gospel with their friends and are going with us to evangelize in other areas.”
Eleven years ago when he and Ivette hosted a Vacation Bible School and met Berlyn, Dave had no idea that God would so powerfully use the teenager who said she came to VBS only for free snacks.
Or that other children and teenagers from her family would trust in Jesus, become leaders in the village church, help start a church in another village and help disciple young leaders in that church, which they’re praying will start a third-generation church.
“We’re just doing what we believe is the heart of God. Somehow you sense His heart and when you go that direction, He just provides in supernatural ways,” Dave said.
Equipping local believers for ministry was always the plan, so Dave and Ivette disciple those who step up, despite their youth. They even disciple Deaf youth and adults, and God has used them to start several Deaf churches.
Working primarily with leaders who are young and energetic could easily become a tiring task for a couple in their 60s. Yet for the Daggetts, it’s like getting their “second wind.”
Financial gifts through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and Cooperative Program help make it possible for the Daggetts to serve in the Philippines and host weekly training sessions and Bible studies that equip youth to lead their churches and to train others to lead.
“Berlyn, you want to come up now?” Dave said as he handed over the microphone so she could lead worship during a Saturday evening training session with leaders from her church and the second-generation church.
That’s how it usually goes for these self-proclaimed “shadow missionaries” who push forward their young Filipino leaders.
“If we want to reach Filipinos, what better way than with other Filipinos? We can’t do it all,” Dave said.
Serving with the Daggetts in ministries such as medical and dental clinics, anti-smoking and dental hygiene seminars, and True Love Waits seminars is a perfect opportunity for “on-the-job training,” as Berlyn likes to call it.
“Berlyn, what’s your favorite story from the Bible?” Dave asked once while traveling with her and several of her cousins to an outreach event.
The story of God saving Adam and Eve, she told him.
“OK, you will tell the story today in front of these people,” Berlyn recalled Dave’s response.
“He’s always telling us, ‘Don’t forget the two Ps.’ Passion and practice. Always be passionate and always practice [sharing testimony and Bible stories] so people will be amazed that the Lord is working in your life.”
Passion to see the gospel change lives is what drives this couple who rarely seem to take a breather as they go from one training, outreach event or discipleship meeting to the next.
“We rarely travel alone,” Dave said as he headed out the door and Filipinos squished into the back of his car so they could help lead a True Love Waits seminar.
The Daggetts didn’t expect children and teenagers like Berlyn to be the catalysts in helping move ministry from zero to church multiplication, but they’ve learned to embrace every opportunity God gives.
“It’s a surprise a minute,” Dave said. “This can only happen because of God.”
DECLARE HIS GLORY AMONG THE NATIONS
Find resources for churches at imb.org/offering to learn more about and promote the Lottie Moon offering. While Southern Baptists are encouraged to give to the offering through their churches, a Donate Now option is available for individual online gifts.
Related video: “Philippines: Making disciples and planting churches,”
Paige Turner is a writer living in Southeast Asia.