God is on the move! RCI update from the Philippines

[Written by Abigail Hohenstreet]

I can’t believe how quickly our days here are speeding by!  We arrived safely on Thursday night, getting settled in by the lovely hour of 4 a.m. — although exhausted, we were more overcome with anticipation about the days ahead!  On Friday, we did some errands to prepare for the week and we had a long ministry meeting and lunch with Dr. Lyons and Pastor Jun, during which we were all brimming with joy and gratefulness for God’s presence and power in and through the partnership that we’ve formed.

 The Philippines, with over 1,000 inhabited islands, is home to over 100 million people.  Metro Manila, home to 25 million souls, is the fifth most populated city in the world!  We’re so honored to supplement the expansive and dynamic work of Megacity Ministries (which includes Community Baptist Church, Global Surge, and campuses of Baptist Bible College Asia).  This Christian community here steadily ministers to 6,000 of the 5 million children under the age of 10 as well as to 150,000 young people, 2,000 of whom are presently Bible students.  Because of the Filipino’s ability to assimilate to such a vast array of countries and cultures throughout Asia and the Middle East, they’re very effective for the cause of Christ; thus, it is such a joy for our team to be given the opportunity to equip and embolden these precious people!

Our first conference, on Saturday, was from 9a.m. to 5p.m., and it was very blessed.  About 500 people came, representing various churches, colleges, and provinces.  We had worship, plenary sessions, breakout sessions, and ended the day with a long Q&A panel.  The audience asked us over 30 questions during our Q&A and we addressed a range of topics, from problem of evil, to science and faith, to law and ethics, to cults and cultural engagement.  Because it was open forum, some people attended who hadn’t before heard such information and messages; 20 people accepted Christ on Saturday!  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 church here is located in the inner city of Manila; consequently, the culture we’re experiencing is quite unique — music is loud, singing is louder, the congregations are passionate, even dancing, and the preaching is full of illustrations and stories that captivate the attention as truth is presented.  The liveliness of the people here is nothing short of invigorating (and maybe overwhelming for Westerners).

Here’s what God is preparing our students to keep moving forward in —

We’re officially partners with Global Surge, a ministry that sends teams to 28 countries, including: Cambodia; Tanzania; Middle Eastern countries; Indonesia; India; Bangladesh; Thailand; Eastern Europe; Brazil; Burma; Hong Kong; Colombia; Mexico; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Malawi; Kenya; United Kingdom.  During one mission trip to Hong Kong, 50,000 out of 200,000 young people who heard the truth during a week-long camp, accepted Christ (the missions are geared toward non-believers, so anyone who is already a believer can only attend if they bring a non-believing friend).  In the various countries, due to the differing cultures, freedom levels, and needs, the teams are sensitive to the way the truth is brought to the students.  The result: a ripple effect of totally transformed lives!

 For example, one of our new friends is Darwin, a Bible College student who is incredibly active with Global Surge teams; since he accepted Christ at camp a few years ago, he goes on trips several times a year to help other students understand and accept the Gospel.  The theme that we hear believers say here is something that the American Church could learn from:  “Everyone is a minister; every job is mine.”  They have a deep understanding of their responsibility:  becoming a follower of Jesus entails a commitment to study and show oneself prepared to help others in their truth quest and a willingness to give of time, talent, and treasure to serve in any capacity that’s needed.  It’s inspiring to see mission-minded servant hearts and strong leadership all over the place!

...To be continued,

~Abigail, Jane, Ramon, and John  [Ratio Christi team to the Philippines]