Filipino Baptists rally for church planting
BALTIMORE (BP) -- More than 120 Filipino Baptists crowded into a conference room and spilled into the hallway at a Hilton Hotel during the June 10 annual meeting of the Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America, held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting.
Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, spoke of the meeting's theme, "Multiply," emphasizing the need for Filipino church planting. Page described the partnership between the SBC and the Filipino Fellowship as "precious."
"Filipino Baptists ... we are partners, we work side-by-side, we need each other," Page said. "It is my will, my desire, my hope that we will join together as partners for the Gospel so that eventually every man, woman, boy or girl on this face of the earth, including every Filipino ... will hear the Gospel of the Lord Jesus."
Peter Yanes, president of the fellowship, asked all the Filipino Fellowship leaders to pray over Page, and encouraged the fellowship "to pray for him every single day on what he does in our behalf throughout our nation ... bringing the Gospel to the lost ones," Yanes said.
Roger Manao, pastor of Philadelphia Bible Church International in Pennsylvania, estimated that in a population of approximately 3.4 million Filipinos in the U.S. and 700,000 in Canada, there are only about 200 Filipino churches.
"My challenge to all of us here today is together, let's develop a philosophy of ministry that includes the multiplication of churches so that we can make a difference for these 4 million Filipinos," Manao said.
Jeremy Sin, who works with the North American Mission Board in church mobilization, also talked about the importance of church planting and the fellowship believers enjoy together in churches.
"But what if … there's no church?" Sin asked. "But praise God years ago someone in your cities started that church. Years ago, someone in that city, they are willing to sacrifice and willing to work hard … to start that new church."
Noel De Guzman, the fellowship's vice president for the West Coast, reported on a recent mission trip to the Visayas region of the Philippines to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan that struck last November. In the city of Ormoc, they were able to help rebuild schools along with the California Southern Baptist disaster relief team.
In one area, De Guzman said, they preached the Gospel for three days and about 85 people accepted Christ. They plan to start a church there soon.
"What's going on in the Philippines right now is that there is a partnership that is taking place," De Guzman said. The Visayas Baptist Convention, in partnership with the Luzon Convention, is building $400 houses to get people out of the tent cities.
Visiting from the Philippines was Dante Velasco, chairman and president of the Luzon Convention of Southern Baptist Churches. He said he was encouraged by the report of the work by the Filipino Fellowship in typhoon relief.
"We gathered a lot of gifts and donations from all of you," Velasco said. "And it was a continuous response because … the Baptist Global Response (a Southern Baptist human needs organization) team brought millions of pesos," and he thanked the many other Baptist partners that assisted in relief.
The Filipino Fellowship recommended a resolution to "encourage our churches and affiliates to partner with [Visayas Baptist Convention] by providing financial assistance in building houses for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan," which was passed by the votes of those attending.
The fellowship's leadership also recommended a resolution for churches to "partner with AMEN (their fellowship's church-planting project, the Asian Multiplication Evangelical Network) in finding ways to reach the lost for Christ by planting new churches," which also was passed.
Angel Ignacio, pastor of Filipino Evangelical Church in Winnipeg, Canada, coordinated a 40-day prayer campaign, April 27-June 5, prior to their annual meeting. While attendees joined hands in a closing prayer, Ignacio asked God to "help us to populate heaven with Filipinos, help us to populate heaven with many more ethnicities, many Asians and Caucasians and everyone who You have called."