The History Of SEAMIST

This is the long, long version written at the request of a supporter!

South East Asia Mission Teams was in the hearts and minds of Richard and June Bartz from the time they began preparing for life and work in Indonesia in 1990. After some years of living and working in a hard place in obedience to the Lord, they were finally sure it was the Lord bringing them back to the Philippines in 2000 to start the SEAMIST organization.

During previous visits to the Philippines some good relationships had been build with pastors and believers in Cebu, so after prayer five Filipinos were asked to help the Bartz’ incorporate SEAMIST in October, 2000. Founding Directors were Pastor Robert and Sarah Cuenca, Pastor Romeo Villarta, Dr. Fred Garcis, Richard and June Bartz, and Rizza Dalde.

In August, 2001 Richard and June Bartz moved to the Philippines and started preparing for training whoever the Lord brought that had a heart to plant churches among unreached people groups in South East Asia. The mission and vision of SEAMIST was crystalized into words and phrases that could be communicated.

The first new trainees came from the USA, but they were soon joined by Filipinos. In 2002 the first Church Planters Training was held with mostly Filipinos in attendance. This event helped to focus the training on church planting. About 16 people from three countries attended.

2002 also brought the arrival of Marvin and Jenny Donahue, an older couple with a heart for the Hani people of Vietnam. We are so proud of the years of service that the Donahues were able to complete there before health issues finally took them home to the USA for now.

It was in 2002 that SEAMIST accepted a woman from Indonesia as one of our workers. That relationship contiues to foster ministry among two unreached people groups in Indonesia. Occassional training trips always bring encouragement and equipping to the SEAMIST team there.

In 2003, Pastor Rodel Cordova and his wife Edah brought baby Shem to Cebu to join the staff of SEAMIST. What a blessing they were, and the next five years of ministry was greatly enhanced by their ministry. Pastor Rodel oversaw the planting of churches in LapuLapu City, Borbon, Cebu, and most remarkably, among the Aeta tribal people of Negros Oriental.

2003 also brought Kenneth Bartz, son of Richard and June. Initially Kenneth came to visit and recover from some life issues. With his life back on track with the Lord, he got involved and soon realized his call to missions. Since that time he has sacrificed many years of his life to assist SEAMIST in too many ways to count. He served as the office administrator, but his work affects every area of SEAMIST minsitry. Kenneth returned to the USA in 2012.

SEAMIST became associated with the International School of Ministry and started presenting the ISOM video bible course in 2003. Since tha time dozens of trainees have completed many trimesters of study, and many of them have received diplomas equivalent to associate degrees.

In 2004 the Donahues arrived in Vietnam and Grace Villarta became a SEAMIST Director. Two young women from Mindanao joined SEAMIST, confessing a call to be church planting missionaries. One of those women, Davelyn Diola, is still serving faithfully in Thailand planting churches among the Shan refugees from Myanmar.

In 2005, Johan and Marielle Andersen from Sweden began training for church planting ministry among Filipino tribal people. Although young, their zeal and determination led them to eventually start what has become a series of churches on Davao Del Norte among the Manobo Ata people. These indigenous churches have thrived and grown over the years. The Andersens later began training ministries in Myanmar and although they live again in Sweden, they oversee and assist their work in Asia.

2005 also brought staff help from SEAMIST associate workers Jim and Marilyn Belfiore. They has been trained some years ago by the Bartz’ and came to assist the young trainees in particular with life issues, discipleship, and to teach ISOM. They have always been a blessing to SEAMIST, and continue to bring the good news to many unreached people in South East Asia.

Another blessing in 2005 was when Salonga and Sariya Aryana joined SEAMIST with a heart to work among the Badjao people in the southern parts of the Philippines. They were trained and eventually assigned to start a church in Surigao City. They left SEAMIST in 2007 when their work in Surigao came to an end. Eventually they returned to Zamboanga City to help in a church there for a time. Even now they are engaged in work among the Badjao people in Zamboanga Del Norte and Bohol.

The highlight of 2005 was when Davelyn Diola departed for Chiang Mai, Thailand to finish her training and to learn Thai. She was our first Filipino missionary and she has proven that the Filipinos can do it. She works full time and fully supported planting churches among the Shan refugees in Thailand. Amazingly, SEAMIST had workers in four countries working with five unreached people groups! Glory to God!

2006 saw the incoming of several very young and promising Filipinos for long term training. While most of them eventually realized that they were probably not yet called or ready to be full time church planters among unreached people groups, one notable exception was a young man named Genesis Precioso. As time has progressed, he has proven his faithfulness and call, and he and his wife Maria work now to start churches among the Manamwa people of Mindanao.

Several of these young people worked together as a team and started a Cebuano church in the town of Borbon for “practice”. Following SEAMIST basic guidelines they were able to gather more than 100 converts into a community of believers in only six months. This “experiment” in church planting demonstrated the wisdom of focusing on adults, home bible studies, and simple church methods.

In 2007, the SEAMIST Training Center was moved into a building that was rebuilt by the staff. About 1000 sq ft of office was created in a shed style building in Gun-ob, Lapulapu City. The new facility made it possible to have training and meetings with up to 50 people as well as office space for staff.

Early in 2007, Roger and Hazel Villacorta left for Thailand for several months of ministry, but lack of support and adjustment issues brought them back home before the end of the year. Support issues began to become a major issue with sending Asians.

In August 2007, WIM missionaries David and Polly Wineinger arrived for training and staff work. They brought years of experience in the mininstry, and have served faithfully and with great success on the staff and board of SEAMIST.

In November, 2007, the first Church Planters Academy (CPA) was held, with the special feature of an exposure trip to a tribal area. Part of the preparation for that event brought Pastor Rodel into contact with Datu Rostum Bornea, the chief of the Aeta tribe in Mabinay, Negros Oriental. It was hoped that the CPA trainees could spend a few days in a tribal environment. During the second meeting Pastor Rodel began telling Bible Stories, and within a few months, there were dozens of new believers and a church was born.

By the end of the year there were three appointed Aeta elders, more than 20 men and women were in elder training, and there were three churches meeting regularly, all led by Aeta workers. This 100% indigenous work continues today with many more churches and leaders. The transformation of the villages has been dramatic, and the change in status and propserity of the Aeta tribe in this area has been remarkable.

2008 saw some of the young workers leave, but others arrived. A Chilean woman also arrived for training with hopes of going on to work among a very difficult to reach people. Terry and Pat Hamilton began their two year training, Dick and Hope Omaguing were accepted for training for the Shan work in Thailand, and others joined in hopes of getting to the mission field some day.

In June of 2008, Nigerians Kanayo and Ngozi Uchime arrived with their children to begin training for church planting work in the Philippines. Eventually this family felt the call of God to plant churches among the Badjao, and are engaged with the Badjao tribals in the area of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

In July of 2008, Pastor Rodel Cordova died of cancer at only 32 years of age. His death was a huge blow to SEAMIST. He was loved and will always be missed. He left his mark not only among the Aeta people whom he loved, but in churches he planted through the years and on SEAMIST, an organization he served because he believed in what we do.

Late in 2008 Eliezer and Ginalyn Capablanca joined the SEAMIST staff to help with training and to assist with the Aeta work. Eliezer has proven to be a loyal and faithful worker. His training was completed and Eliezer continues to provide ministry to the Aeta and assist in the SEAMIST office as well as personally helping alongside Dave and Polly Wineinger.

In 2009, Genesis Precioso came back to SEAMIST to assist Terry and Pat Hamilton in a hoped for church plant among the Bukidnon and Ati people in the area of Mount Canlaon, Negros Oriental. Although there was no church planted, Genesis and his wife Maria went on to do church planting mong the Mamanwa people in Jabungga, Surigao Del Norte.

2009 was the year that Pol Rondina became a director, “J” went to Vietnam and Edah Cordova and her boys went to Thailand, followed very soon after by Dick and Hope Omaguing. They left to join Edah and Davelyn Diola in hopes of finding a place of ministry among the Shan. Although the Omaguings were very courageous and willing to live by faith, there was much concern about whether they would be able to stay in Thailand because of low support issues.

2009 also saw good training times, most notably with 4 Nigerian men who had come to the Philippines with another organization. These men and women hoped to move on to China, but circumstances beyond their control kept them here. We gladly invested in them, and at least two of them continued in the Philippines doing pioneer and pastoral work.

The Hamiltons finished their training in 2010 but were unable to return to the Philippines for further ministry. The Wineingers finished their first three year term and enjoyed some months of rest in the USA late in 2010. They took oversight of the Aeta work and have enjoyed much fruitfulness there.

2010 was a difficult year that also saw the Omaguings have to leave SEAMIST over support issues and Edah Cordova returning after one year on the mission field. These losses were costly to SEAMIST and difficult to understand. Still, by years end it was apparent that the Lord was just pruning the branches in preparations for the future. SEAMIST board and staff were encouraged by the continued success of the Aeta work, the great results of medical missions works in Cambodia, the strong comeback of the Indonesian team ministries, and by the training of new people, most especially Ken and Ginalyn Pabalinas.

2011— to be added, God willing.