Doing dangerous drugs with her boyfriend by night and earning a decent wage by day, Sarah* dismissed her friend’s talk of eternal life in Christ – until their paths crossed again in a country that seemed like another planet.
In their native Philippines, Sarah worked as an agent for a call center while her live-in boyfriend had a good job in a bank, and they were too busy climbing the economic ladder in their urban metropolis to pay much attention to ancient things. Her Christian friend, a young man in training to share the gospel at a ministry based in the Philippines, couldn’t get her to pay attention to the salvation message.
The parents of Sarah and those of her boyfriend, Mario, eventually badgered them into getting married, and they had the appearance of middle-class respectability as they hid their growing addiction to illegal substances, according to the leader of a native ministry. But the government’s war on drugs began to hurt dealers they knew, and in a panic the couple took the route that economically deprived Filipinos have long taken – fleeing to the Middle East to take humble service jobs that at least kept them alive.
Keeping their plans confidential, Sarah left the Philippines without saying goodbye to her Christian friend.
In the Middle Eastern country, undisclosed for security reasons, Sarah and Mario couldn’t buy a bottle of wine in the Islamic republic, much less find illicit drugs. Going cold turkey and tripping through a new culture exhausted them as much as working long hours for little money in an expensive land. Displaced, disoriented and depressed, they found solace only in the Filipino subculture.
It was to that subculture that the native ministry in the Philippines sent her Christian friend as part of its international outreach. Sarah was amazed to run into him at a market specializing in Filipino foods. Warmed to find a piece of her previous life in this strange new existence, she also warmed to the gospel; what was once an ancient thing was now local and in the moment.
“Sarah was very receptive and accepted Christ into her life,” the ministry leader said. “She also shared the gospel with her husband who, though at first hesitant, also accepted Jesus into his life. The Holy Spirit started to work in their lives – they began to hunger for God’s words.”
The couple asked the worker and other ministry leaders in the region to help them study the Bible, he said. After just a few months of studying the Bible, the couple began to invite their friends to their weekly Bible study.
“After six months, a fellowship in a home was started,” the leader said. “The couple is now leading the fellowship. Moreover, because of their testimonies, many members of their families here in the Philippines became very receptive to the gospel.”
Sarah’s parents have begun participating in Bible studies with native ministry workers, as are members of Mario’s family in another city.
“To God be the glory,” the leader said, adding that he felt honored to witness transformed lives in many places.
From urban centers in the island country to world-class cities in the Middle East to jungle villages in the Philippines, native missionaries see transformation in many ways.
One native missionary in the Philippines noticed that in an area where the gospel has taken root, clan conflict and political violence have ceased.
“Normally someone dies every month, especially on election days,” the worker said. “There was no record of deaths this year, and no one died in last May’s election. This must be Jesus Christ transforming this place into a place of peace, because He is peace.”
In another area of the Philippines, workers spoke of a young mother who did not hide her dislike for her parents-in-law. Slandering them behind their backs, in front of them she refused even to share food or water with them.
“When she began to study the Word and attended Bible study and know more about Jesus Christ, her attitude began to change,” a native missionary said. “She now shares anything that she has with her parents-in law, and she doesn’t say bad things about them anymore. Refusing to gossip anymore with the other women, now she’s the one reminding them what they’ve learned from the Bible. She doesn’t want Jesus to be displeased with her, and one way of displeasing Him would be going back to doing what her old self did.”
In another area, a teacher the ministry trained in lifestyle evangelism saw all 23 of her students put their faith in Christ. Distributing clothes to the needy, educating poor children and offering skills training that help the hungry obtain jobs, other native missionaries have seen the gospel transform lives that help heal entire communities.
Please consider a donation today to equip such workers to bring transformation in this world and and eternal life in the next to unreached people in the Philippines.
*Names changed for security reasons