Church of God Memorial:
Gerald Waterhouse

DAVAO CITY, Philippines— Forty years ago Gerald Waterhouse (who died September 4, 2002 after a long illness) was sent by Herbert W. Armstrong to officially start God’s work in the Philippines and to establish a church office (then called Ambassador College Agency). He arrived in June 1962.

This was four years after his first visit to the country, in 1958, when he was sent to contact (the late) Pedro Ortiguero, who later became the first ordained Filipino minister under what was then called the Radio Church of God.

When Mr. Waterhouse came back in 1962, there was as yet no organized congregation in the Philippines. Initially two families attended his first regular Bible studies in his living room at his rented house in Makati, Metro Manila.

Soon after arrival he surveyed the area and worked to personally select the location and suitable building in Metro Manila. He chose and ordered office furniture and equipment, hiring needed employees to get the operation going in full swing.

Eye for quality

Starting the next month, he began to place large advertisements in the then very prestigious newsmagazine The Philippines Free Press. Response was phenomenal nationwide.

Booklets that were then advertised included Why Were You Born?, Who Will Rule Space? and The Seven Laws of Success.

He showed wisdom, practicality and an eye for quality. For his vehicle, he ordered from Germany a Volkswagen beetle (which was later bought by a church member and kept in running condition until the member died some 35 years later).

Most of the original office furniture was auctioned to church members about 12 years later. I am still in possession of one of those solid wooden- top office desks, a set of wooden adjustable literature shelves and a couple of Spokesman Club tables with collapsible steel legs. This furniture has been part of my ministry since.

Congregations in the Philippines were included in Mr. Waterhouse’s preaching itinerary around the world, which cycled about every two years. In the late ’60s and early ’70s his itinerary in this country included only Metro Manila, where I furiously took many notes and typed them out later.

Starting in the mid-’70s, when I was already assigned to pastor churches in Mindanao, he came all the way to Davao City (where we were residing) to speak to the brethren here.

When I was later transferred to Bukidnon in the central part of Mindanao Island in 1982, his cycle dictated again that he visit the Philippines.

Since the main church congregation there (Don Carlos) was about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the nearest city in Mindanao (Cagayan de Oro), and the roads leading to that area were rough, dusty, winding and steep, God led me to do something different for Mr. Waterhouse this time.

I contacted the multimillionaire owner of the largest sugar-milling company on the island to borrow his helicopter to ferry Mr. Waterhouse from Cagayan de Oro City to Don Gerald Waterhouse Carlos, Bukidnon and back. I was ready to pay for the service, but, through God’s help, the owner offered it for free!

The pilot waited the whole day until Mr. Waterhouse finished speaking in the afternoon (while I had to translate his message into the Cebuano dialect).

End of itinerary

Mr. Waterhouse’s unusual worldwide itinerary ended soon after the death of Herbert Armstrong, in 1986.

During the doctrinal changes that followed in the Worldwide Church of God, a dearth of information blanketed our country. We did not quite know what was happening and why.

I had questions that those above me in church administration did not answer to my satisfaction.

During those years I earnestly prayed with tears to God to somehow grant me answers to my questions.

Unknown to me, Mr. Waterhouse’s personal five-hour visit to me and my wife all the way to Bacolod City on Negros Island in March 1996 (where we were then assigned) was God’s answer to such prayers.

Mr. Waterhouse answered all my questions to my satisfaction.

In retrospect, it was exactly 38 years (two time cycles of 19 years each) between Mr. Waterhouse’s first visit to the Philippines in 1958 and his last visit in March 1996!

In 1958 his first visit was to lay the seeds to start God’s work in this nation. On his final visit it was to reestablish and strengthen the foundation that had somehow been partly damaged, in preparation for the next phase of God’s work in this country.

It is also significant that the year of his death (2002) marks the 40th year since the establishment of God’s work in this nation, and this 40th year also marks the establishment of the United Church of God’s office in this country.

Thus is the legacy of Gerald Waterhouse in the Philippines.

Article Originally entitled COG traveler’s legacy felt in Philippines, written by Edmond Macaraeg.
It appeared in Issue 68 (Sept. 2002) of The Journal.

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