A nation of friendly people and beautiful places. Yet half of the 42,000 communities lack a thriving church.
In partnership with others, OMF has worked in the Philippines since 1952. By God’s grace, our efforts have borne much fruit. Still, thousands of communities lack a church and dozens of peoples are little reached.
Where is the Philippines?
The Philippines is located in Southeast Asia. It is south of Taiwan and east of Vietnam. To its south lies Indonesia and Western Australia.
Who do you partner with? We partner broadly. We partner closely with three church associations that we helped to establish. We partner with three seminaries and a few Bible schools. We also partner with several other ministries though not as closely.
We have established or helped establish additional ministries that are now independent of OMF. This includes Christian bookstores, foundations, a Christian publisher, student ministries, video ministries, and much more.
What are the needs of the Philippines today?
Several leaders of the church in the Philippines regularly mention that they would like to see more OMF missionaries serving here.
Missiologists say that three generations of a people needs to be discipled before the Gospel exerts a broad and deep impact on their culture. Among some peoples, we are already serving the third generation of Christians. Among others, we are serving the first or second generations. It would be wise to serve them for several more years. Our role among them is often a behind-the-scenes one: training, mentoring, coaching, and encouraging.
In what areas are missionaries needed to serve in the Philippines?
The Philippines experiences many natural disasters. We are thankful that local prediction and warning services are improving all the time.
The nation also experiences many man-made disasters. Since we often have a sense of where they might take place, we can avoid most of them.
There are several rebel groups in the country. Most of them operate in known geographical areas. We tend to stay out of their territories. We only enter them when local leaders invite us and guarantee our safety.
Is it hard to serve in so diverse a country, one with many peoples, languages, and cultures? Many peoples live in the Philippines. Most sources mention that around 180 languages and dialects are spoken here. To effectively serve the least-reached peoples, most OMF workers learn two languages and cultures. So if you find it hard to learn other languages, yes, it could be hard to serve in the Philippines.
On the other hand, if you find it enriching to learn languages and cultures, then the Philippines could be a good place for you. Having said the above, Filipino is now being spoken in more and more of the country. It is slowly becoming the national language.
Aren’t there more exotic places to serve?
A local author titled his book Authentic Though Not Exotic. He agrees that there are more exotic cultures in the world. This is largely because a wide variety of outside cultures have influenced the peoples of the Philippines. As a result, a unique and authentic culture has developed among each people group although they are not exotic like those that have been less touched by the outside world.
How much is still needed to be done to reach the Philippines?
There are many ways to measure the greatness of a nation’s spiritual needs. By some of those measures, there are greater needs in many other countries. By some of those measures, there are still large needs in the Philippines.
For example, 90 million Filipinos still need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ in a meaningful way. Half of the 42,000 communities still lack a church. Millions of Filipinos are young Christians who need to be discipled.
What is the political situation there?
The Philippines is a republic with a voter-elected, democratic government. The peace and order situation in most of the country is more than adequate.
We avoid places where people are rallying against the government or a foreign government. During election periods, we also avoid places where candidates are campaigning.
The political situation in Asia is dynamic. Countries are moving in a variety of directions. In this shifting context, the Philippines works hard to maintain good relationships with its near and distant neighbors.
Isn’t the Philippines already reached?
We praise God that the church in the Philippines has grown significantly since the 1970s. However, the growth has been inconsistent. Some peoples are reached. Other peoples still have very few churches and Christians. While we are helping train some of the more reached groups, we are also doing pioneering work among several of the least-reached peoples.
How can we help the Philippine church to reach its own least-reached peoples?
We are thankful that many local ministries are seeking to reach the least-reached peoples. Several of them very much want us to continue serving alongside them. Plus, multi-cultural teams can model the universal church among such peoples which is often a powerful witness.
Should our limited mission resources be invested in more strategic fields?
The answer to this questions depends on what you mean by strategic. By some definitions, the answer would be yes. By other definitions, the Philippines would qualify as a strategic field.
For example, many Philippine peoples are highly religious. They want to engage in discussions about the most important things in life. If you consider it strategic to invest mission resources among spiritually open people, then the Philippines is very strategic.
It is not uncommon for a missionary to evangelize and disciple a Filipino who takes a job overseas in the near future. Large numbers of Filipino Christians work in places where missionaries cannot go. They are naturally friendly and often make friends with local people. By this measure, it is very strategic to invest mission resources in the Philippines.