|This is Vic
Vic grew up in a small rural village named Aguilar in Pangasinan, Philippines. This rice farming community was remote and suffered from persistent poverty. His parents were farmers. One day in 1986, he heard some exciting news. It would change his life forever. His school principal invited a Philippine children’s ministry to run a children’s camp for their students. Vic was in Grade 5, and eagerly set off to attend the camp. There he gave his life to the Lord Jesus.
In 1995, Vic’s interest in agriculture led him to take a course in poultry management at Central Luzon University. During this intensive course, Vic noticed a persistent infection in his left foot! The doctors’ only recommendation was to amputate his foot to stop the infection. This terrifying news lead to a serious encounter with the Lord. Vic was a Christian, but like many others, he had never dedicated his whole life to the Lordship of Jesus. He prayed, “God, if you have a plan for my life to serve you, please heal my foot.” Miraculously, God told him what the doctors needed to do to stop the infection. A small incision was made and the infection poured out and in time, he was completely healed. Vic described his life after this miracle this way, “The Lord healed me there and I became a fiery go-go volunteer church worker, youth leader, evangelist, and Bible study leader.”
His leadership skills were clearly recognized, and in 1997, he became the assistant pastor in a new church plant in Aguilar, Pangasinan. After finishing his Pastoral Ministry Course in 1998, he was installed as the pastor. In that same year, he volunteered to assist a group of senior pastors and a medical missions’ team in an outreach to the island Province of Masbate. Providentially, on board their ship, Vic met Eduardo Ariba. During the following year, Eduardo was instrumental in establishing him in mission work on the island. Yet, there is more to this story. Eduardo was the uncle of Melanie, who became Vic’s wife five years later!
|Vic’s family: Victoriano, Shekinah, Melanie and Melvic
While in Masbate, Vic saw the poverty and the hopelessness of the people in the rural areas and felt a call to become a missionary there. Little did he know, that a young Christian lady, with alcoholic parents, was praying that God would send a missionary to Masbate so that her parents would come to know the Lord. That lady, was Melanie! Sometime later, Vic just happened to meet her on a ship heading to Masbate. There was an immediate bond and in 2004, Vic married the “love of his life.”
Vic started his ministry evangelizing deep in a rural area of Province of Masbate. He worked hard to help the new believers to become self-sufficient through his knowledge of agriculture. Never the less, without a demonstration farm it was hard to convince them to turn from their old unsustainable ways. He decided to ask his father in Pangasinan to sell his future inheritance land so that he could lease 5 acres of farmland and to buy a small tiller. With his demonstration farm, his holistic ministry approach became very effective and the church he planted grew very fast. Sadly, without adequate funding and time constraints, he had to stop the farm and focus on church ministry. Added to that, his sending agency, Church of the Philippines, stopped all missionary support.
Vic pushed on, using his gardening skills to provide for himself and his new wife, but life was difficult. He was dismayed by the poverty around him. He was even more dismayed by the moneylenders that preyed on the farmers with up to a 100% interest rate on a 3-month loan! Lacking opportunity, parents left the area to find work in larger cities, breaking up their families. This all weighed on his heart.
|Nice crop of okra! Besides the greenhouse operation, Vic grows a large variety of organic
vegetables for market and home consumption.
|Greenhouse in the tropics? Vic and Jaime Garcia examine leafy vegetables that are growing during the rainy season. The greenhouse makes this possible. Organic vegetables like these command a high price during this off season.
|Melons and string beans, they are all organic! Also grown are corn, eggplant, taro, sugar cane, and squash.
Even though it was very difficult for Vic and Melanie, now with their first child, they decided that they needed to focus on their family needs and leave Masbate. Vic had heard that in his home village of Aguilar, his father, Victoriano Sr., who was a pastor, was heading up a new livelihood ministry through FARMS International. This gave them hope for their future. As they left Masbate, they assured the believers that they would pray that someday, God would also bring the ministry of FARMS to Masbate. We are praying with him about this possibility. Vic’s first loan with FARMS was for a laying duck project. Over the years, he has had several loans for various organic farming projects. He is so thankful for these projects and for those that support FARMS. His projects have become the sole source of income for their young family and have enabled them to send their three children to school.
|Squash flowers for a salad! Vic’s daughter, Shekinah, is a real helper.
|New crops are always part of Vic’s vision. Pictured above is one of his recently acquired grape
cuttings from La union province. From the looks of them, they are growing well.
PS. God has given Vic a vision to help the poor, especially out of school youth and FARMS project holders. He would like to establish an organic agricultural training site in his home village. He believes this approach is a viable way to teach self-sufficiency crop and animal raising, and other useful horticultural skills. Of course, this will require funding. If this is an endeavor you might be interested in supporting, please contact us. FARMS’ ministry focuses on our loan program, but we would help facilitate seeing this training program site developed, if God lays this on your heart.
|High antioxidant Bignay fruit, is being tested by Vic.