Nick Guarino isn’t the kind of missionary sent by a mission organization, but rather by individuals and churches like Parkway. He first spent time in the Philippines as a student, then he felt called to stay full time as a missionary.
This past fall, he traveled back to the United States visiting and giving ministry presentations to current and potential supporters. He gave one presentation to a Parkway small group that meets at Greg and Mary Kay Ayers’ home on Thursday nights.
Nick had a lot in common with many in the small group. Bill and Cindy Jordan’s daughter as well as John and Soraya Wesner’s daughter had been on a Parkway mission trip to the Philippines. Like many of the families there had done with their kids, Nick was also homeschooled. Before the presentation, the group was discussing homeschool-stereotypical things like grinding your own wheat.
“It’s a homeschool thing,” Bill Jordan said.
Nick spend about an hour and half talking about ministry in the Philippines and answering the group’s questions. By the end, they were hooked. How could they support him? This turned out to be one of the harder questions for him to answer. It was hard because (1) asking for money is uncomfortable and (2) donating money regularly isn’t a particularly smooth or convenient process right now.
Facing Financial Need with Faith
“There’s a lot of things to consider and ways Parkway could help out,” Nick said. “Right now we’re trying to raise school supplies.”
He started listing some other ministry needs and things he would love to do with a Parkway team who would consider making a trip over, including running a youth camp and distributing Bibles.
“How about personal?” Bill Jordan asked. “As far as support for y’all. How are y’all handling that?”
Nick smiled and shifted in his seat a bit.
“A lot of faith,” he finally answered.
The reality is: While Nick and Jem currently receive a set amount from individuals and churches like Parkway, they are financially short on the amount they need each month. And once their first son is born in January, they’ll be even deeper in the hole.
“We try as much as possible to do as much ministry as we can,” Nick said.
But that’s difficult sometimes without full financial support.
“I figured you have all your support,” John Wesner said. “So I was ignorant on that.”
John asked Nick if he was sharing with people and visiting groups to let them all know about his need for financial support.
“It’s what I’m praying for,” Nick said. “It’s just a little awkward to walk up to someone and say, ‘Hey, I need money from you.’”
“If you hadn’t shared it, I wouldn’t know you had a need for money,” John said. “And that’s a real need – You have to live; You gotta be able to pay the bills in order to do the ministry.”
Somehow, God Keeps Providing
It was clear Nick wasn’t enjoying this part of his presentation as much as when he was sharing stories of how God was working in the Philippines. But even while he was vulnerably sharing his family’s financial need, he was giving glory to God. Somehow, God kept providing for his and Jem’s needs —like his plane ticket to the U.S.
“We’re horribly short every month,” he said. “But I’m currently in America. I don’t know how that happened besides God.”
God has shown Nick and Jem his faithful provision not only in their personal lives, but also in the lives of Filipinos around them. Here are three ways God is moving and providing among Filipinos:
1. Tsinelas(Flip-Flops) for Fellas
According to Nick’s promotional video, Tsinelas for Fellas provides high quality and low-cost flip-flops for Filipinos living in villages “as a means to share the gospel.”
Why give free flip-flops to villagers who don’t wear shoes?
The Philippines is a tropical country with high rates of infectious diseases. According to the Philippines Department of Health website, the country is “susceptible to the threat of re-emerging infections such as dengue, meningococcemia, tuberculosis,” and others.
“It starts with not wearing shoes because you cut your feet on everything, and then it gets infected,” Nick said.
On a recent mission, Nick and his partners drove eight hours then hiked another three hours to reach a tribe and deliver flip-flops. They also usually take packets of antibiotics with them, but the shoes are a good way to prevent potentially dangerous cuts. And Filipinos prefer flip-flops because another kind of sports shoe would become useless after hiking through the muddy terrain.
Watch this nine minute video on Nick’s YouTube channel to learn more and see the ministry in action.
2. BP2 (Better Performance Baseball Philippines)
B2P is a sports ministry that offers baseball clinics for kids, forming partner relationships between local schools and churches.
“In the Philippines, people are much more of a relational culture,” Nick said. “So we want to develop relationships between schools that don’t have any gospel message or Bibles or any Christian influence. We want to partner with that school and get a local pastor to build that relationship.”
How does it work?
“We go to schools and ask them, ‘Hey, we’d love to do a baseball clinic at your school. We’d love to teach you about baseball and about God and share the gospel to your students.’ And so far, everybody said, ‘Great! That sounds awesome.’ So we go in, and we basically outfit the school with baseball equipment, typically brand new equipment from the States. Then we go through a clinic with the kids,” Nick said.
They use a sports ministry curriculum developed in South Africa called Ubabalo. It connects sports skills with life skills, based on the Bible. Nick said he has used it to teach a baseball drill like basic hitting and tie it to a skill like focusing on goals. The curriculum includes questions to ask during the clinic events that tie in Bible verses and go deeper — beyond baseball.
“And they do this for every sport – even archery,” he said. “So it’s great for any sports ministry.”
Watch this three minute video on Nick’s YouTube channel to see what a BP2 clinic looks like.
3. Typhoon Relief in Tribal Villages
“We do a lot of tribal ministry,” Nick said. “As soon as you stop seeing roads, that’s where the tribes live.”
These Filipino tribes do not depend on electricity or indoor plumbing, and they live in modest shacks. They rely on the bounty around them for food.
“The Philippines is extremely lush with fruits and vegetables,” Nick said. “[In the U.S.] you walk outside and see pine trees and oak trees. Over there, [they] walk 5 feet into the jungle and pick up a pineapple, a coconut, a papaya, and a mango, and [they’ve] got [their] meal for the day.”
But in early October this year, a typhoon passed over the Tuguegarao area in the north, where the tribes live.
“The typhoon came through two weeks before harvest time,” Nick said.
The storm destroyed not only the people’s food supply, but also their chance to sell their extra corn and rice crops to make a small income.
“It’s extremely humbling,” Nick said. “I feel guilty complaining that we don’t have enough to live off as missionaries when people in these tribes don’t have half of what we’re getting. But God prevails through it. You’re gonna have harvest within problems.”
Because of the remote location within the jungle, relief agencies like The Red Cross and The Baptist Global Response couldn’t reach one tribe that Nick knew of through previous ministry.
“Nobody reached them because who’s going to hike 3 hours in mud to get to these people?” he said.
But a few Parkway individuals and families sent a couple hundred dollars to provide food rations and rebuilt houses. And the SBC in Luzon, the country’s largest and most populous island, sent more supplies and were able to help rebuild 42 houses.
“These people’s houses were destroyed, but the money that they have now been given to rebuild their houses is like taking their trash shack of a house to potentially a concrete house or just a much better house,” Nick said.
What’s Up Next for Nick and Jem
Nick and Jem will welcome their first child in January 2019. Then in March, he plans to walk in the graduation ceremony at Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary. Later in March, he will start a volunteer part-time teaching position at another seminary in Aurora.
“This seminary is more focused on training up Filipinos to go abroad,” he said.
Many Filipinos already travel abroad as foreign workers to send money back home. This seminary wants to train foreign workers to use their unique opportunity not only to earn a paycheck, but also to share the gospel in their host countries.
How You Can Be Involved (Beyond Prayer)
1. Support Nick and Jem financially.
Nick and Jem are not missionaries sent by an organization with marketing and finance departments. They are sent by individual people and churches, including Parkway. If any of Nick’s story resonates with your heart, here’s how you can support him and Jem:
- Write a check made out to Burnt Swamp Baptist Association (Memo: Nico and Jem, Philippines) and send it here each month: P.O. Box 1207 Pembroke, NC 28372.
- Another way is through PayPal. For more info on this method, reach out to Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Give to Parkway’s Acts 1:8 Missions Offering. A portion of Nick and Jem’s financial support already comes from this fund. Your gifts can help increase Parkway’s support.
2. Send money or stuff to the ministry.
He said sometimes it’s good to send money, while other times it’s better to donate items. For example: he said paper is incredibly cheap to buy in the Philippines, but simple ball point pens or dry erase markers are much cheaper to buy in the United States and send to the Philippines.
3. Go visit!
Parkway mission teams that travel to the Philippines serve in different ministries in another part of the country than where Nick lives. He said he’s praying for more partnership from the church to help out with the ministries he’s involved with. Logistically, he could handle groups of 2-8 people, but 10 is probably too much.
“If someone were to come over, we would definitely incorporate them into ministry,” he said.
Written by Emily Hall,
A member of Parkway Baptist Church