Sometime during the late 1980’s, the members of Iloilo Baptist Church decided to honor the Lord during Christmas time in a different way. It was planned that, instead of making Christmas a time to be with loved ones and a time to enjoy the holiday, “Helping the Needy” would be a better way to honor Christ.
Some decided to help the lepers at the leprosarium; some visited sick people in the hospital. Others reached out to the widows, who were especially lonely during Christmas. Some repaired the houses of the elderly; while some helped the poor, the blind, and anyone that might not be remembered during Christmas.
Most of the students of Iloilo Baptist College gave up their Christmas break and participated in helping the needy and many people were won to Christ as a result.
One of the students who gave up his Christmas break was a first year student named Arturo Morales. He had saved up his money to go home for a visit. It was the only time he could have gone home, but instead, he stayed at IBC and used that money to help others. Brother Arturo had a very good record as a student. On the Saturday morning before Christmas Day, Brother Arturo went to his Bible Extension Classes—which our workers hold in different neighborhoods, teaching thousands of children each week—and taught the children the Bible lesson. He noticed an old man listening carefully. For an adult to listen to the lesson so intently was rather unusual, so after the class, Brother Arturo walked over and sat down by this man and began to share the Gospel with him. That man received Christ as his Saviour.
Brother Arturo went back to IBC for the early afternoon visitation meeting, then he left to visit his jeepney route with Brother Werro Bargo, another student. After visiting his route, Brother Arturo told Brother Werro about the old man he had led to Christ earlier. He asked Brother Werro to go with him to follow up on the man, and invite him to church.
Brother Arturo was driving a tri-sikad and Brother Werro was in the side-car. As they went out on the highway, a bus hit them. Brother Werro was thrown from the tri-sikad and broke his foot. Brother Arturo, however, sustained critical head wounds and was rushed to the Provincial Hospital.
About 6:00 p.m., someone told me what had happened. I rushed to the hospital. The emergency room was full. I didn’t recognize Brother Arturo, because of his extensive head wounds. I asked the doctor about his prognosis and he said it was not good. He said they could operate, but Arturo would have to wait at least 12 hours because several others were waiting for operations.
I asked if it were possible to transfer him to another hospital. We took him to Doctor’s Hospital. The brain surgeon there examined him and told us that there was little hope, but that he was willing to perform surgery to release some of the pressure to the brain. He also wanted us to realize it was probably futile. We told him to go ahead.
I’ll never forget sitting down and crying in that hospital. I asked God in my heart, something I should never ask: “Lord, it’s not fair! Why would You allow this to happen? Arturo is one of our best students. Why Lord?”
I’ve learned that we should not ask the Lord why but what. We should ask, “What good can come from this?”
We waited outside the operating room and by that time there were many IBC members there. We prayed and waited. After a few hours the doctor came out and said, “It looks like there is about a 50% chance that he will make it.”
We were so happy to hear that. I believed God was going to let him live. It was about midnight by then so I went home to get ready for the Sunday services. About 4:00 a.m. I was awakened by a knock at my door. It was a student who said, “Pastor, Arturo is dead.”
We all felt much sorrow because we loved him, but Arturo Morales was a great blessing to IBC. He was a young man whose testimony was a great example to us all.
Here was a Christian who made a statement with his life and his death. He gave up his Christmas vacation to help others and the last conscious thought he had was to try to help a man who he had just led to Christ that morning!
I never want to forget the sacrifice Arturo made and the burden he had for souls. He was truly a Christian who put others first.
Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.