[From the Ratio Christi International Blog]
We’re pleased to announce that our first international conference, held in Manila, the Philippines, was a victorious ministry for the Lord in mid-July! Ratio Christi thanks our own “Fantastic Four” International Team for this trip: John Stewart, Ramon Margallo, Abigail Hohenstreet and Jane Pantig. To see how the concept for this Philippines conference first took shape last October and the brilliant God-led qualifications of these four folks, here's our original article announcing the endeavor,“Certainty of Christianity in a Generation of Uncertainty.”
John Stewart, Ratio Christi’s International Director, shares: “Within three weeks of issuing announcements, we had more than 300 registered.” That was before even going!
Stewart gives us some insight into the schedule and great results of the conference:
“The conference was a huge success. Hundreds showed up for the first 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. event. We had two plenary sessions, a lunch break, and breakout sessions in the afternoon. My favorite part of the conference was our final session when the four of us took questions from the audience to close out the event.
Our weeknight academy was three hours per evening. Each team member taught a course for two hours and 30 minutes. This was also well-attended. The hunger for biblical truth was evident in the questions asked by the attendees – many of them budding apologists.
During the week we had the chance to address a combined chapel for Baptist Bible College Asia, with some 400 students in attendance. Ramon and I also met with key Christian leaders from the greater Manila area, and the excitement about Ratio Christi was genuine.
Before we left, there were preliminary plans for us to return and hold another apologetics conference at a larger venue, and there were at least five university campuses where an interest was expressed in establishing a Ratio Christi club! And Ramon, now acting as the coordinator for Ratio Christi Philippine Islands, has also identified key Christian leaders who may be willing to serve as point men in the Philippines for developing these chapters.
Our first Ratio Christi International apologetics mission was a tremendous success due to the dedication of our team and the sacrifice they made to go to the other side of the world to teach and inspire Christians and to reach out to unbelievers. The need for a campus apologetics ministry in the Philippines and other countries is as great as it is in the U.S.”
Stewart reflects on the need for Christ both stateside and internationally:
There is opportunity to reach the hearts and minds of believers and unbelievers alike before they are steeped in the skepticism, secularism and nihilism that are rampant in America. Pray for apologist laborers who will step up and help us address the needs on campuses throughout the Philippines and around the world.
Abigail Hohenstreet added some funny experiences from the trip and more conference accomplishments:
“God so blessed our time in Metro Manila and outlying areas. I have to mention the food. Without being fed some of the most amazing, fresh seafood I've ever had, I don't know how we would have found the strength to keep ministering as much as we did. We were all speaking at various engagements throughout the days and evenings. Our meal breaks and the fellowship with people really kept our strength up.
The Filipino people are incredibly laid back. During our trip, Jane and I accidentally set the dinner table on fire in the middle of a restaurant (courtesy of an unfortunately placed candle and a nearby napkin)! One of the ministers, Pastor Jun, helped me rush to pour water on the flame. Literally no one else in the restaurant even batted an eye! The people are so nice that they won't even make fun of you.
On Thursday, while Ramon and John went to a breakfast meeting with a large group of indigenous leaders, Jane and I went to Alabang where we were able to speak to university students and faculty during their joint chapel services. On Friday, we joined with Christ Commission Fellowship, Greenhills Fellowship, and Megacity Ministries leaders as well as other evangelical pastors for a discussion about prophecy in light of current events. That night, Dr. Stewart gave a detailed address regarding Israel’s history, development, and present circumstances. We were challenged to think critically about how Christians are to respond to and interact with the difficulties of international affairs of our day.
About 500 people came to our first conference on Saturday, representing various churches, colleges, and provinces. Because it was open forum, some people attended who hadn’t before heard such information, and 20 people accepted Christ! On Sunday, our team attended the 20th anniversary for our hosting church, and a message on the four spiritual laws was preached because of all of the visitors. Another 45 people made professions of faith during the two morning services!”
The trip was extended to include more ministry. Hohenstreet continues:
“Last weekend, we led another conference in Quezon City, sponsored by a group called Jworx – a group of about 40 young professionals in various fields. We trained them in areas like biblical morality and ethical impacts on jurisprudence; cultural engagement and understanding apologetics in public policy; scientific evidences for the existence of God; biblical peacemaking; historical and archaeological evidences for the reliability of the Bible; and much more! Many of our conference attendees said they left feeling equipped to serve God and others in their various influential vocations.
While John and I returned to the states, Ramon, his wife Nanette (“Nini”), and Jane stayed behind to do another week’s ministry to communities throughout the Philippines. Please also pray for our international team as we plan for the upcoming trip to Kenya that is to take place in August!”
In a previous Ratio Christi post on the team’s second day in Manila, Hohenstreet concluded:
There’s a theme that we hear from [international] believers that the American Church could learn from: ‘Everyone is a minister; every job is mine.’ They have a deep understanding of their responsibility - that becoming a follower of Jesus entails a commitment to study and show oneself prepared to help others in their truth quest; plus a willingness to give of time, talent, and treasure to serve in any capacity that’s necessary. It’s inspiring to see mission-minded servant hearts and strong leadership.