Christianity is the dominant religion in the Philippines, with many of its citizens excited about the hope of Jesus. However, there remains a deep need for discipleship training. Discipleship Essentials
, TWR Canada’s multi-media, multi-lingual library and discipleship training tool, is filling that need. The tool is free to use and distribute, but TWR Canada also offers Train-the-Trainer sessions to help churches learn how to use the tool and implement it successfully in a way that delivers measurable impact to the local community.
Elena is our DE champion in the Philippines. She is passionate about teaching others how to implement DE in a small group setting. In the fall of 2017, Elena spoke to a group of women at a conference and shared how to start a small group using DE. One of the attendees was Julieta, who took the lessons to heart and tried to apply them in her church. Eventually, Julieta and her husband were commissioned in their home church to start a new ministry.“In January 2018, with the help of a seasoned church planter, they started a new church plant with three families attending. They focused on inviting all members of the family to small group meetings and always gave opportunities for people to receive Christ at the end of every activity. In only a couple years, this church already has 12 small groups and meets in their newly acquired property where the church was just built two years ago. “But this story does not end here. It has just begun. The church has set a vision that by the year 2030 they will have 12 daughter churches planted with 2000 baptized believers. “In April 2019, a daughter church was organized 10 kilometers away. In February of this year, they dedicated their first daughter church with a group of 35 individuals. In August 2019, the second daughter church was also organized with 40 members, 20 of whom are adult members. “I would never imagine this could happen this fast,"
Elena exclaimed. "This one church gave birth to two more. The principle of ‘small is big’ has become a reality in this part of Mindanao. A spiritual movement is taking place. To God be the glory!”
For the past two years, Elena has been helping churches to transition to small group ministry while doing the usual large group ministries in church settings. There are almost five thousand recorded small groups already!
The Philippines has responded to COVID-19 by locking down cities, ordering people to stay at home and urging the use of masks. “We continue to ask God for healing for all the nations, for the right medicines for patients and for a vaccine to be available soon. Thank you for praying for us. We do the same for you,”
Elena has shared with us how the pandemic may affect ministry in the future. “I think that ministry will drastically change to include other ways of doing our ministries. It is vital to teach people to lead their families. The pastors and church workers unknowingly do the ministries for the families, instead of teaching them how to lead their own families. It is time, once more, to think outside the box. These indeed are challenging times, but I am thankful that God has carried us and will continue to carry us through these times. I am grateful for the opportunity to help our churches by providing them with Discipleship Essentials training and tools that they can use to strengthen their churches and people.”
Elena also shared with us this response from the bishop of her region, encouraging the pastors and families during lockdown. “Thank you for facilitating and encouraging small groups and family worship in your own homes and small gatherings. COVID-19 may have prevented our Sunday worship services, but it can never hinder our worship. Let us continue to worship God wherever we are, by families or small groups. In areas where there is total lockdown, we must continue to worship God just the same, for God cannot be confined in a building. He is in the midst of his people, even by twos or by threes. True worshippers always worship him in spirit and in truth, regardless of where they meet. Hallelujah!”
We praise God for the growth of small groups in the Philippines and the planting of new churches! Please pray that families will grow in faith as they spend more time together during lockdown.