We continue to send teams to various parts of the city, spreading the gospel, discipling men and women, and testifying to the Lord’s goodness and transforming power. The Lord has been so good in the work of changing the lives of many people. In one Bible stud, fathers and mothers study the Word of God every Saturday with the leadership of our Bible teachers. This group is led by Patrick, who is faithfully and joyfully serving the Lord in the community. For Patrick, this is his second chance of serving the Lord after going through heart surgery a few years back. Today Patrick finds joy in helping people understand what the Word of God says and pointing them to a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Saturday is our gospel outreach day in Mandaue City. Various teams go out into the community, the urban poor sector of society. The conditions in these communities are almost unlivable due to the poverty among the people. Junio is a father of six children. He works as a construction worker and only earns an income when there is a project nearby. Sometimes he travels to far places to find a construction project so he can feed his family. Junio attends our Bible studies every week. For Junio, even these difficulties in life are not an obstacle for him to embrace the gospel and know the Lord more. He enjoys listening to the discussions but is reluctant to hold a Bible because he cannot read. Nevertheless, his joy is in the Lord, and he presses on with the strength and provision from God.
The Word of God is central to this ministry. We bring our Cebuano Bibles and distribute them to men and women in Bible studies. I have personally witnessed the hunger and thirst of people for the Word of God. They are like babies longing for the pure spiritual milk of the Word. Thus, we make it a point that are ministries are grounded on and saturated with the Word of God, explaining Biblical truths, with the aim of life application and transformation.
A second Bible study fellowship we are regularly having in the city is also growing. Our time is filled with praying, singing, worship, and the exposition of God’s Word. Filipinos are a singing people, so we teach hymns and spiritual songs in our Bible studies in addition to prayer and exposition of the Word.
In our recently launched Bible study, we have embarked on explaining the fundamentals of the faith—the gospel, spiritual disciplines, and the church. We welcome unbelievers in this group and are currently evangelizing them, with prayers that they may come to a saving faith and join our local church.
Ariel is one of our men currently training to be a future elder; he has the love and passion to preach the Word of God and to shepherd people in their spiritual journey. He is leading the Bible study that meets every Sunday. I am delighted to see the work of God in his life now because his heart is humble and dedicated to the work of God and to the salvation of the lost.
- Pray for new Bible study leaders like Ariel.
- Pray that God would use him and the other leaders to bring more souls into salvation.
- Pray for wisdom as I continue with the training and equipping program for our leader as part of our strategic plans to sustain the ministry in the coming years.
My role as a pastor and church planter is to equip the saints so they can do the work of the ministry. I am glad my wife is helping to equip the women in Bible study and handling the Word of God properly. I recognize that my wife is more effective in teaching other women because of their shared experiences. Monthly, the women meet for an hour of fellowship and equipping, with the goal of learning principles for handling their small groups. Because of this strategic method, and by the grace of God, we are seeing more quality growth among women as they develop more intimate personal relationships with each other. At the same time, there is more participation and counseling in the small groups too!
I was born in a poor family in Cebu, Philippines, on September 6, 1986, as the eldest of two. During this period, my father was an unbeliever while my mother was a backsliding Christian. Growing up was difficult due to the vices of my father which brought pain to my mother. On top of that, we were living in a difficult situation economically, always looking for what to eat next. During this time my father was a new policeman while my mother was a fulltime housewife who was striving hard to finish her college degree in education.
When I was five years old my father heard the gospel preached in a nearby church. He repented of his sins and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ which saved and transformed him. As a result, he started bringing the whole family to church. This was the start of many changes in the family. There was no more crying and no more pain. My father’s transformation was miraculous and radical. My mother also went back to faith. As a young child, I grew up in the church as a part of the children’s ministry, participating in various Bible Studies, singing in the church choir, and attending every single activity of the church. I was pretty confident that I was a righteous person and would go to heaven since I was actively involved in the church. If I was asked by people if I had God’s approval and love, I was confident I did because I was serving Him in the church. The pride and arrogance in my heart were undeniable.
However, our Church pastor, Rev. Dixie Bangcog, already sensed the pride and self-righteousness in me. He called me one afternoon in July 1997, we met in person and he shared the whole gospel message with me. I was shocked by the gospel. I did not know that the Bible actually taught that no one can be saved by his or her own good works. I was reading the Bible verses in Romans, and for the first time in my life, I came to God in prayer. I repented of my sins, believed in Christ’s work on the cross, and trusted my life to Jesus. Since then, I knew that I was a child of God, accepted by Him, not because of my own righteous works but because of His gift of forgiveness and salvation only in Jesus Christ. After a few months, I was baptized in water and continued serving in the church with a new identity in Christ.
While in college at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City, I was involved in various campus ministries and discipleship groups. It was during this time that I was immersed in ministering to fellow students through Bible Studies, leading discipleship groups, and street evangelism. My love for God’s Word and for leading people to faith increased tremendously. It was also during this time that I was actively involved in the pulpit preaching and teaching Sunday schools. I realized that this was something I wanted to do for a lifetime. This became my passion and my long-term goal, to spend my life in the ministry serving people, and contributing to the expansion of the kingdom.
However, this passion was almost lost when I graduated in college and focused instead on establishing my career. Eventually, I was successful in my career in the oil industry, becoming one of the youngest managers in the company nationwide. I lost touch with church and ministries, I instead centered my life on temporal things. But at the end of the day, I felt that something was missing. I knew that I was not right with God anymore, forgetting my very first love, and spending all my time at work. I was assigned in many places in the country and was out of touch with any church fellowship, small group or accountability group. This changed when I was again assigned in Ormoc City, Leyte in 2011, I got married and settled there, and became part of a local church. There was a great need in the church to lead people back to God through preaching, discipleship, and evangelism. I sensed that God was touching my heart and wanted to use me in this way.
What fueled and confirmed this sense of calling is when I discovered again the richness of the Word of God when I stumbled across the preaching of John MacArthur, John Piper, R. C. Sproul, David Platt, and Paul Washer. I was convicted and fell in love with God’s Word again and to the doctrines of the Reformation. I studied God’s Word and volunteered in preaching, teaching, outreach, and discipleship ministries. It was during this time that God cemented in my heart His call to ministry. The local church affirmed this calling and recognized the gift that God had given to me in preaching and teaching.
In March 2013, I resigned from my job to pursue God’s calling. My family and I left Ormoc City, Leyte and went back to Cebu to enter the seminary and be trained and equipped with theology and ministry skills. During this time, my father went into full-time ministry as well. I volunteered to assist him through youth ministry, preaching and teaching. I became his intern and youth pastor. Since the local church, we are serving is in an urban poor area, I did not receive any salary to support my family. So I went on to become a bi-vocational minister, serving in the corporate world during the daytime while serving the ministry during weekends and studying seminary during some nights.
I thank the Lord for my wife and family for supporting me in this call to ministry. Keeping everything in balance while still making God the center of my life during the difficult times, and the love and support of my spouse helps me stay focused. Most of all, the grace of God makes everything delightful and rewarding in spite of all trials and suffering. The greatest joy I have right now is Jesus and heeding His call in my life. I am a servant of God and my life is for Him alone.