It was Juan’s first time to lead the devotion for his classmates in a Diploma in Christian Ministries course. Listening in the small, crowded room in an urban poor area in Metro Manila, I was initially impressed by his wide knowledge of Scripture. He used quotes from the old and New Testaments to build the background to the Star of Bethlehem in the Nativity story. But as he continued, I was disturbed by his explanation of the star being a sign of the devil. He claimed this was because it put Jesus in danger, and that the Magi that followed the star were the same people that God hated in Deuteronomy.
As the lecturer for this course, what was I to do? I couldn’t tell the class this was nonsense, because Juan would be shamed, and never speak up again. On the other hand, I couldn’t have 25 house church leaders wrongly thinking that the star of Bethlehem was a sign of the devil! I chose the path of indirectly addressing this issue over a number of weeks.
A year later I observed Juan, preaching in front of a gathering of 10 house churches. He spoke on Psalm 23, with clear, accurate biblical and practical teaching.
Juan’s story is an encouragement. It also alerts us to the importance of vigilant teachers to sensitively correct errors and train church leaders in wisely using the Word of God.
Did you know?
Up to 80% of the pastors and church leaders of evangelical churches in the Philippines have no formal theological education. This is either because training is offered in the medium of English, there is a lack of qualifications necessary for entry, or simply the distance to the seminary or Bible school. OMF partners with the Alliance of Bible Christian Communities of the Philippines (ABCCOP) in offering a part-time biblical training program in the language and locality of the community.
Will you pray for the Philippines?
Pray for church leaders to recognise the need to dig deep into God’s word, and attend Bible expository courses that will help enable them to achieve this goal.
Pray for qualified and committed teachers to train leaders in each province where ABCCOP works.