Filipinos look toward cross-cultural missions
NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- Filipino Southern Baptist leaders focused on strategies for church planting and training disciples for cross-cultural international missions via tent-making during their June 19 meeting held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in New Orleans.
"If we want to do missions the same way we have been doing missions in the past, we can never reach the world with the Gospel," Nono Badoy, executive director of the Philippines Missions Mobilization Movement (PM3), said during the meeting of the Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America. "So, nontraditional missions are very crucial," the Filipino leader said, "if we want to really see the world reached with the Gospel."
For Filipinos, non-traditional missions means tent-making -- using one's non-church vocation as a platform for sharing the Gospel, Badoy said. With an estimated 10 million Filipinos living overseas, and more than 1 million of them Christians, Badoy said Filipinos are "scattered souls for the Kingdom."
"We've got to mobilize [nominal Christians] to be engaged in missionary work," Badoy told pastors and laypersons attending the meeting at First Baptist Church in Kenner, La.
A global movement is necessary, Badoy added, because the Great Commission commands believers to make disciples of all nations. By 2020, he said, PM3 wants to commission 1 million cross-cultural disciple-makers who will catalyze church multiplication movements among the unreached people of the world.
"We're empowering churches and training them so they can mobilize and train their church members," Badoy said. "On and off the job, the objective is to bring people of other cultures to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ."
Noel De Guzman, vice chairman of Filipino Southern Baptist Ministries in California, reported to the fellowship that more than 3,000 churches are part of the Luzon Convention of Southern Baptist Churches in the Philippines and 1,463 churches are affiliated with the Convention in Visayas and Mindanao of Southern Baptist Churches.
Ken Weathersby, the North American Mission Board's (NAMB) ethnic ambassador to the Southern Baptist Convention, noted the importance of working together to accomplish their goals.
While ethnic believers have open doors for involvement within the SBC, they also have "a door of obligation," Weathersby said. "It's a commandment to make disciples among ethnic people, a commandment that we are to love one another."
Weathersby lamented, however, that many Christians have "allowed fear to immobilize us and stop us from being obedient to the Father."
Describing church planting as the best evangelistic strategy, Weathersby said Filipinos' cultural adaptability provides an "opportunity to share the Gospel … and disciple new believers."
Weathersby noted the fellowship's emphases on church planting, cultural adaptability, leadership and joy.
"I want to commend you for how you love one another [and] I want to challenge you to work together to penetrate lostness in North America and around the world," Weathersby said.
Jeremy Sin, NAMB ethnic church planting consultant, encouraged the Filipino fellowship to plant churches in Asian populations and to network with and support new churches near their own churches.
"We have one mission to accomplish, and that is the Great Commission," Sin said. "We have to multiply and we have to start churches."
Aiming for new churches plants in Atlanta, Baltimore and Chicago, Sin added that current churches must be intentional in fostering disciples who will be church planters. Citing success with new churches in Las Vegas, Toronto and Vancouver, Sin left pastors with three mandates: Be a supportive church, a standing church, and a multiplying church.
Noel De Asis, regional coordinator of the fellowship's Asian Multiplication Evangelical Network, underscored his "passion" for multiplying churches.
"I believe that God is a God of all cultures," said Asis, who encouraged pastors to continue sharing the Gospel, but warned, "If we won't change our attitudes to what is going on around us, the church will shrink and we will be out of touch, and we will be disconnected."
Filipino leaders engaged in a time of prayer for mission teams from Woodhaven Baptist Church in Tickfaw, La., and Atlanta (La.) Baptist Church that are scheduled to travel to the Philippines later this summer.
The Filipino fellowship encompasses 200-plus churches in the United States and Canada.
Vicky Kaniaru & Emily Grooms are writers from Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga.