The Philippines has a population of nearly 100 million people spread over 7,000 islands. There are over 170 different languages spoken, with only about 50 language groups with a complete Bible or New Testament. Because the country was a Spanish colony for three centuries, 85 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. Only 3 percent are Protestants, and the rest are Muslims, Buddhists, and other religions.
Cults abound all over the country, the biggest one being the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), a misnomer because it holds to an Arian Christology. Most of the Filipino people are very superstitious, and their religions are usually syncretistically blended with superstition and paganism.
In 1998 Walnut Creek sent Rev. Nollie Malabuyo to begin to church-plant in this setting - his native country of the Phillipines. Formerly a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators, Pastor Malabuyo completed his studies at Wesminster Theiological and began to work in the suburbs of Manila. Two small churches were established. The first is in Pasig City, a suburb of the capital Manila. The church there has about 40-45 people meeting on Sunday, and has two elders and two deacons. Most of the church is made up of unmarried young men and women in their 20’s who were introduced to the Reformed faith through social media. They are very committed to the Reformed faith and a number of them are studying in MINTS. Services are held every Lord’s day in the afternoon in a local Baptist church. Since Rev. Malabuyo's retirement in 2014, services have been led by their two young elders, using his sermon manuscripts. A local pastor has recently been called to work there.
A second church-plant in Imus, also in the densely populated Manila area, and is 30 kilometres from Imus but an hour and one half by car. The church meets for worship on Sunday mornings in a rented gym. There are 30-35 people in attendance on Sundays. There are now elders and deacons in Imus and they now have a part-time pastor who is teaching and preaching most Sundays. The church is passionate to reach their community with the good news of the gospel.
Please pray that God would continue to bless these fledgling churches with strong leadership. Pray for the men that are currently studying in the MINTS program would be raised up as faithful pastors and serve the churches in years to come. Pray also for Jude Atas, a young man who has returned to the Philippines to serve in the churches there as an intern.
Rev. Malabuyo with leaders in the church in Pasig City