Pictured (Clockwise from Top): Pastor Joey leading a Seedlings Gospel Training, Dr. Waters presenting Joey with EvanTell's "Matthew 4:19 Award" in evangelism, and Larry Moyer with Joey and another instructor.
Editor's Note: The following comes from Pastor Joey Casas, one of EvanTell's Master Certified Instructors in Manila, Philippines. His reflections come shortly after the passing of Dr. Larry Waters (Read Dallas Theological Seminary's tribute).
No one has influenced me more in my spiritual life than Pastor Waters.
I met Pastor Waters in the year 1988 in an office Bible study where he was teaching the life of Elijah. It was a time in my life where I was seeking answers for spiritual questions regarding faith, salvation, and many others. His lessons made a deep impact in my life. The word of God was made alive in the way he spoke expressing the heart of a man that loves God. He is full of conviction about the truth of God’s word. The word of God was handled with a careful study of the Bible and even explaining some original language in Hebrew / Greek. He has a high respect for the word of God that he would not allow any distraction to sway his listeners away from the truth.
In 1989 I started to attend the Metro Manila Bible Church where he spoke every Thursday evening and Sunday (morning and afternoon). I was so excited with I am learning on salvation, eternal security, dispensation, series on theology and books of the Bible especially the life of David and the book of Psalms. I also shared what I am learning with my family. I was baptized by Pastor Waters in 1990 where I invited my officemates. One of them was a Jesuit Catholic who came out of curiosity of why am I being baptized as an adult not as an infant. This officemate later became a born again Christian under the teaching ministry of Pastor Waters and now is an elder of our church renamed What The Bible Says Community Church after Pastor Waters’ radio program in our local Christian radio station.
Through the teaching ministry of Pastor Waters, I became active in my faith and started office Bible studies in an ice cream company where I was an IT systems analyst / programmer. We would always invite him to speak on several occasions. We also enjoyed eating ice cream after he spoke and he would always remember his favorite cashew praline flavor even the last time he visited the Philippines.
In 1991 he officiated our wedding. It was considered the year of weddings because at least five weddings were made that year. Pastor and Mrs. Waters never missed visiting us in the hospital when my wife, Del, delivered both our daughters born 1991 and 1998. He maintained a prayer journal where he logged our family’s prayer request especially when our children are sick. We will never forget your love for our family. We would always wait for your greetings during our birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other special occasions.
In 1998 I met an accident and Pastor Waters was the first person who visited me. Previous to this he was challenging me to attend seminary where he was a professor but I told him that I am not yet ready as my career is moving up and have other plans. Previous to his visit that day, I was reflecting the message of the Lord regarding the accident and it was impressed to me that I owe my life from God and willing to use my life to serve him. When he came to the hospital my question was “Pastor, how many years is seminary?” He smiled and told me to get well and we’ll talk about it later.
One Sunday, he had a bad headache attack in the church and we were shocked of the pain that he experienced. On 1999, he asked me if I am willing to pastor the church because he and his family will go back to the US for treatment of his severe headaches. I said “Yes pastor I am willing”. August of 1999 I was ordained after a grueling interrogation of the ordinating council composed of veteran pastors and professors from ISOT-Asia. By year 2000, I started to pastor the church that Pastor Waters pioneered.
It is a difficult task, even an impossible one without the grace of God to pastor the church with the expectation of ministry at par with Pastor Waters. He would always encourage me to be who I am and to preach with what God is impressing into my heart even if people will not be pleased. He shared how he develops his sermons and how he practice delivering it. We highly appreciate the yearly visit of Pastor and Mrs. Waters to personally mentor us in the ministry. They would even schedule phone calls / skype just to see how we are doing with our life and ministry. During summer he would teach in ISOT-Asia and I am one of his students. I would drive for him going to school using my old Pinto car. He would always tell me that he smells like gasoline every time he alights from my car. He would always remember the time when he visited us without Mrs Waters and we drove him to Northern Luzon. He had a hard time because of his kidney stones. But after going back to the US, he thanked me because his kidney stones were gone due to the bumpy road we traveled that year. After five years, I graduated from seminary at the same time we experienced financial difficulties. They helped us with support raising and like a father, he provided for us even protected us . My formal education is helpful but still not enough without the personal mentoring of Pastor and Ma’am Waters. In the lowest point of our ministry they would always tell us that they are praying for us daily together with their church / Sunday school class and friends. He told me to never give up. Praise the Lord! We overcame major problems in the church with his constant encouragement and prayers.
Since the time the church guestroom was built, we were able to spend more quality time with Pastor and Ma’am Waters. He would wake up about 4am for coffee and personal devotions. They would share how they love Filipinos even in the US, even call center agents whom they spoke on the phone. They love Filipino food like laing, pancit, adobo, etc. He loves the churches especially the pastors. He would help in times of needs: hospitalization, medicines, schooling, burial, etc. We share stories and laugh and pray. He shares how they struggle as missionaries and how God helped them in their needs. How they took menial jobs just to send support to churches in the Philippines. Our parsonage is full of laughter every time they visit us. We always look forward for their future visit. His visit last March, 2018 was different because he said they might not be able to come back due to health issues. He told us to strengthen the fellowship of churches planted and to preserve the teachings that we already learn through him. I have more stories to share but my tears just keep on flowing as I recall those precious moments.
Pastor Waters, we saw the embodiment of God’s love in your life. You lived what you preached. You were the kindest, sweetest and loving missionary that God gave to us in order for us to know more of the Lord personally in our life. We were so much blessed because God called and appointed you to be our shepherd, We love you and miss you. We are looking forward to see you again for eternal fellowship together with our Lord. Our deepest sympathy to Ma’am Waters, DeeAna and Dawn, and family