The seeds for future ministry are often sovereignly planted in unassuming places. Such is the story of Haven of Grace. When God took my wife and I to Hawaii in 1998, we would never have guessed that He was planting the seeds for Pacific Rim Missions in 2010. God used a Christian school ministry and the pioneering of Central Oahu Bible Church to open our hearts to the Asian people we love and to instill in us the missions philosophy of training nationals which we heartily embrace.
In June of 2010 Pacific Rim Missions International was born. We purposefully launched with a non-traditional approach to missions philosophically and financially. Philosophically, this meant investing in training foreign nationals and
not primarily recruiting American missionaries. Financially, this meant operating like a clearinghouse and not with burdensome overhead.
Armed with clear vision and God’s providential hand, my first visit to Bacolod City took place in September 2010. This was more or less a survey trip to look at the possibility of purchasing land to start a seminary. The trip yielded nothing in the way of land but much in the way of an introduction to Filipino people and culture. I saw the need and the burden increased to carry out the vision. However, upon my return to the US we could only pray and wait.
The wait wasn’t long. Soon after, a miraculous string of events unfolded that seemed to put God’s fingerprint on the whole venture. In November 2010, PRMI was contacted by another missions organization in the Philippines. They had heard of our desire to train Filipino nationals and wanted to offer us a strategic piece of property on the shores of the Sulu Sea. As Providence would have it, this property “just happened” to be on Negros island, the very island I had visited in September. After some ensuing conversations, the board of this organization voted to deed the property to Haven of Grace along with significant funds from their bank account. If there ever was a God-thing this was it! This piece of property is where Haven of Grace now stands.
We now had property but no funds to develop it. Our goal was to build a Ministry Training Resource Center for the seminary. It was time again to wait and pray. In deja-vu fashion, God was already ahead of us. I was preaching at a Christian camp and “ran into” a college friend who is also a very generous missions-minded businessman. Through the simple process of re-connecting, God provided a major source of funds that have become critical to developing the facilities at Haven of Grace. God has used many generous souls to construct Haven of Grace into a debt-free 20 million pesos facility. We have housing for 90 students, a kitchen and canteen, conference rooms, classrooms, faculty housing, a library, a gymnasium, and more.
The early years were smooth sailing and almost effortless. God proved Himself and provided for us in so many miraculous ways. Things were going well but our faith in God and commitment to missions were about to be tested like never before. We had land and funds but still needed people who were burdened to invest in training nationals. We thought we had all the right people in place on the American and Filipino side. However, this proved to be man’s design and not God’s. The whole plan for opening a seminary seemed to be quickly imploding. Through various trials God seemed distant and we were reeling with the hard reality that there may not be a seminary after all. But God works in mysterious ways and what appeared to be failure was actually turned by God into success.
After several years of intense struggling, I was preaching at a men’s retreat and the coordinator asked if I would share something about PRMI. I briefly mentioned Haven of Grace and our desire to start a seminary. Unknowingly at the time, God was engraving these words into the mind and heart of a fellow pastor who was interested in the idea of training nationals. A few months later, that “chance” encounter was followed by an email expressing a burden for teaching in a seminary on a foreign field. Initially, I was reluctant to entertain the thought of trusting an American missionary again based upon what we had been through. However, through answered prayer and significant events over the course of 18 months, God confirmed He was moving in a new direction with a new person—Dr. Tim Valiante. That unexpected encounter became the foundation for God leading the Valiante family to Haven of Grace and in July of 2019 Haven of Grace Seminary opened its doors full-time. Although it is 4 years later than planned, our goal of training nationals is being realized and God has proven once again that He is faithful and His timing is perfect. Truly, only God could have put this together in this way with these people at this time. May He forever receive all the glory from anything and everything that is accomplished through Haven of Grace Seminary.
For more information on Haven of Grace Seminary visit www.havenofgraceph.org.