The COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated a shift in ministry in the Philippines, quickening kingdom growth.
Native Christian workers in the island country are taking a more holistic approach than they did five years ago, making gospel outreach even more effective, a ministry leader said. The coronavirus outbreak in 2020 accelerated the new emphasis as workers were compelled to meet more physical needs.
“The type of ministries that are more effective than five years ago are the ministries that address the real needs of people,” said the leader, whose name is withheld for security reasons. “Poverty and sickness are prevalent. Addressing these needs together with the gospel is effective.”
Those coming to Christ saw that the church was interested not only in sharing the gospel but also cared for them and their needs, he said. The COVID-19 crisis brought holistic ministry to the forefront and intensified response.
“The unbelievers are afraid to die – seeing and hearing people die of COVID-19 shakes their identities,” the leader said. “Hence, when the gospel was shared to them, they were more open to it.”
Among other outreaches, workers visited patients at hospitals, distributing tracts and presenting the message of eternal life.
“A doctor responded and thanked us for the message,” the leader said. “Many are praying that these unbelievers will soon make a clear decision for Christ as they have heard the gospel through television, radio, gospel tracts and other means.”
Ministering to the whole person has also meant helping them escape the snare of poverty.
To the degree that the Lord has provided, workers at the ministry expanded livelihood and other projects to help transform entire communities, the leader said.
“We ventured into livelihood projects to augment the income of our labor force and farmers, extending farm inputs, finances to start cow and pig raising and other micro-business enterprises, such as food businesses,” he said.
Educating poor students was key to helping families break the bonds of poverty.
“We extended scholarships to them in elementary, high school and college – many graduated already,” the leader said. “We also do tutorial classes for students who cannot keep up in their classes. We do this after their regular Bible studies.”
Workers also brought wholeness by bringing regular, free medical outreaches to various places, with volunteer doctors providing care and medicines at no cost.
“Before anything else, the gospel was preached to the patients so all will hear the gospel before being taken care of by the doctors,” the leader said. “In serious medical cases, we assist the patients to go to hospitals for treatment.”
Gradually, people have seen their communities improve, he said.
“Many were able to send their children to school and got jobs, and now they are helping their families,” the leader said. “The farms are being blessed by God. Some were able to build their own business, and many found high positions in different universities.”
Others have become teachers in government or private schools, and they are sharing the gospel with their colleagues, he said. Workers are striving to lift tribal groups out of historic poverty.
“We now have work with seven tribal groups,” he said. “Some are still in poverty, but we are assisting them in ways that could alleviate their situation.”
Workers were also heartened when postponed evangelistic trips resumed with the fading of the pandemic.
In December, 10 workers from two villages traveled nearly two weeks to visit friends and relatives they hadn’t seen since pandemic restrictions were imposed.
“Immediately after setting their feet to the backyards of their relatives and friends, they shared the gospel, and by God’s grace practically all the people they met and witnessed to accepted the Lord Jesus as Lord and Savior,” the leader said.
In another area, workers shared about Christ with friends and neighbors at a wake for a nephew of one of the ministry leaders. About 300 people accepted Christ.
“A harvest indeed,” the leader said. “Do pray that they will hunger to know more about the Lord Jesus.”
Native Christian workers are bringing the love of Christ to needy people throughout the Philippines. Please consider a donation today to equip and encourage them.