Indigenous Missions of the Philippines
October 26, 2011
Hundreds of tribes and nations live in the 7000 islands of the Philippine archipelago. Before the Spaniards came in the 16th Century, the only organized religion among them was Islam, centered mainly in the large southern island of Mindinao. Spanish priests introduced a paganized form of Catholicism which did not change the lives of individuals. Then Protestant missionaries poured in following the American occupation, which began in 1899.
But many of the Protestants were quite liberal. They devoted themselves mainly to education and to setting up branches of their respective denominations in various places. But there were also some gospel preaching evangelicals who won souls to Christ and planted a few Bible believing churches here and there.
A worker from Student Missionary Outreach hands out gospel tracts to university students.
A great change came following World War II, after the Philippines gained their independence in 1946. Many Filipinos began going to the USA as foreign students where they were strongly influenced by Christian schools like Moody Bible Institute and Bob Jones University. They were also inspired by evangelistic ministries such as Youth for Christ and International Students, Inc. One by one they were called of God to go back home and evangelize their people.
But even though their hearts were burning with missionary zeal, they had no financial resources with which to begin their ministries. Then, in a marvelous demonstration of His providence, God raised up Christian Aid in 1953, at the very time when He had prepared anointed servants to carry the gospel back to the Philippines.
One of them was the flaming evangelist, Gregorio Tingson, with whom Bob Finley had worked in Youth for Christ. In 1953 Bob told him, “Greg, you go back to the Philippines and preach the gospel; we will be your supply line here in America.”
During the next 50 years, with financial support from Christian Aid Greg Tingson conducted hundreds of big evangelistic campaigns throughout the Philippine islands. Thousands of souls were saved and hundreds of new churches were born as a result of his marvelous ministry.
Conrado Quemada trained as a physician in the Philippines and then came to the USA for further training in surgery. But God spoke to him about missionary service, and Bob Finley took him to a Chevrolet dealer in Philadelphia to buy a truck to be used as a mobile clinic. Christian Aid paid for the truck, for shipping costs to Manila, and for outfitting it as a medical clinic on wheels. Dr. Quemada then took it to the large, predominantly Muslim island of Mindinao where he devoted the rest of his life as a medical missionary among unreached people, with financial help from Christian Aid.
Children like this one were rescued from living on the garbage dump in Manila by Smoky Mountain Ministries.
Sam Colinco studied at Tennessee Temple in Chattanooga, then returned to the Philippines. With financial support from Christian Aid he started Maranatha Bible College in Bacolod, a major city on the island of Negros Occidental. There he trained hundreds of Christian workers for missionary service.
And the list goes on, until the present day. Christian Aid is currently sending financial support to 76 different ministries in the Philippines which deploy about two thousand native missionaries and gospel workers. Hundreds more are in training at their many Bible institutes. Together they are believing God that in our generation a witness will be planted for our Lord Jesus Christ within every tribe and nation of the Philippines.
We Can Do That
As the number of evangelicals rapidly increased in the Philippines after 1946, and many foreign missionaries poured in to work there, local Christians observed what the foreigners were doing and said, “We can do that.”
They saw how missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators were reducing tribal languages to writing, and began to do likewise, with financial help from Christian Aid. One especially effective work has been Translators Association of the Philippines.
When local Christians saw how Campus Crusade and other foreign organizations were trying to reach college students with the gospel, they said, “We can do that.” Thus Student Missionary Outreach was born and with financial support from Christian Aid became a very effective student ministry in the Philippines.
When some foreign organizations, at great expense, set up child care ministries, Filipino Christians said, “We can to that.” And many of them did, with financial help from Christian Aid. One of the most effective was Good Shepherd Fold on the island of Iloilo. Many of the homeless children they rescued and raised grew up to become native missionaries who carried the gospel to unreached people.
Greg Tingson conducted evangelistic crusades for 50 years.
Foreign organizations such as World Vision showed concern for the pitifully poor residents of impoverished areas in major cities. Many poor people were benefitted by their efforts. But Filipino Christians said, “We can do that at a fraction of the costs incurred by foreign organizations.” And many indigenous ministries did just that, with financial help from Christian Aid. One of the most effective was Smoky Mountain Ministries which set about to rescue and educate poor children, and even whole families, who barely stayed alive by scrounging scraps on the smoldering mountain of garbage outside of Manila.
Mission-minded believers in the Philippines noticed how sometimes the foreign mission organizations worked together cooperatively on certain projects, so they did likewise. With financial help from Christian Aid (and also from Partners International, headed at the time by Bob Finley’s younger brother Allen) they established Philippine Missionary Fellowship with the goal of planting a witness for Christ within every unreached tribe and nation in the Philippines.
The importance of Christian Aid’s support of 76 indigenous missions and their 2000 native missionaries is summarized by the leader of a mission working on Basilan Island: “All of these years you, Christian Aid, have been there for us. About 75% of the students who graduate from our high school (in this Muslim community) profess Christ as Lord and Saviour before they leave. They could not have been reached without your help. The importance of Christian Aid is beyond our ability to express.”
Other Stories about Indigenous Missions in the Philippines