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A Macedonian call

February 2003 | by Brian Ellis

2003 for me is an eventful year. I reach 65 and will be eligible for my pension. Friends of mine of the same age are retiring — some have gone to glory. One becomes aware that the years are passing very quickly, and soon we shall go the way of all the earth.

I have served the Lord now for almost 37 years here in the Philippines. The Lord has been pleased to bless these years. In his mercy, my wife and I have had the privilege of being involved in the planting of at least 11 churches here in this land.

Of those, two have dissolved but the others continue in the goodness of the Lord. Twenty-five years ago there were no churches holding the 1689 Baptist Confession. Now an increasing number do so — churches newly planted or existing churches transformed by a work of reformation. This has often come about through the labours of Filipino brethren.

The Philippines is a country which claims to be Christian. Probably over 90% of the 85 million population would say that they believe in Jesus Christ. The vast majority of those would be Roman Catholics.

A religious nation

Everywhere there is the evidence of Christianity, such as texts on the back of buses or images of the virgin by the driver of the ubiquitous jeepney. Grottos with statues abound and every evening at 6.00pm there is the ‘orasyon’ on the radio.

Buildings, offices and factories are seldom opened for use without the blessing of the priest with his holy water. Yes, we are a very religious nation.

Protestantism arrived just over 100 years ago and today its gatherings are marked by modern entertainment — with the drum-set and large loudspeakers prominent in the place of worship.

Entertainment, with ‘singspiration’ and contemporary Christian music, is the order of the day.

Many are taken up with the so-called ‘health and wealth gospel’, while others (including the mainstream interdenominational missionary societies) have jumped on the evangelistic band-wagon of ‘seeker sensitive services’.

The charismatic and ‘third wave’ movements are very much in evidence, even within the Roman Catholic Church.

Wide open to the gospel

Recently, a new member of our church asked why other churches do not teach doctrine. Why do they not have doctrinal preaching? So few Christians seem to be well taught and know what the Bible really says.

There is a two-fold work that needs to be undertaken here in the Philippines —firstly, evangelism and church planting, and secondly, the work of reformation. The comparative handful of small Reformed Baptist churches are seeking to do such work.

But we are few and the work is great.

The Philippines is a land wide open to the gospel. People will readily talk about Christ. Religion is not taboo or an embarrassment. Missionaries are welcome and there is no hindrance to their entry into this country.

Jesus said: ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest’.

We need an army of dedicated men who desire to glorify God by planting Sovereign Grace churches in this land.

Will you pray with us? Even more — perhaps you are one of those who could ‘come over’ to the Philippines ‘and help us’.

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Philippines