The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought it. –Matthew 13:44
Our journey began on a muggy, dark night along a bumpy road returning home from an open-air evangelistic meeting in an old beat up Filipino truck named the Orange Blossom Special. Tim’s dad was the driver, and Tim was his right-hand man that day. They discussed the evening’s events, and Tim told his dad that this was something that he wanted to do the rest of his life. Never missing an opportunity, his dad pulled the truck over along the side of the road, and in that moment Tim committed his life to missionary work in the Philippines. Many would dismiss this for emotionalism. But, sometimes we speak better than we know.
Life never occurs in the way that we think it should. Tim’s family returned to the U.S, and his attention changed. He struggled through high school and college in pursuit of “the almighty dollar.” Yet, God was faithful. In his college dorm room after hearing a message from Psalm 139, Tim turned to the Lord in repentance and faith. After gaining new sight, Tim began to see the world as it truly is, broken. He remembered his commitment to God, and he began to pursue it.
In contrast Bethany grew up in Charlotte, N.C. Her parents also raised her in a Christian home. She was converted at an early age but struggled with her identity in Christ. She knew that she wanted to be a teacher and make a difference, but her insecurity and fear held her back. God began to open her eyes to the mission field. During this time, Tim and Bethany met through mutual friends. After their undergraduate education, God in His grace stitched together the lives of two broken individuals to make something new. He called this new couple to a life focused on furthering His Kingdom. Through this, He would begin to fulfill the dreams of a missionary kid and an aspiring teacher.
Over the past six years, we have visited the Philippine Islands in an effort to better understand how we can serve the Filipino people. We have come to realize that, although there have been great evangelistic efforts among the archipelago, there has been a deficiency in pastoral training outside the metropolitan areas. On a recent survey trip, a Filipino pastor came to Tim and said,
“Brother Tim, do not come here as a church planter. We have many church planters. Come here and teach us.”
The goal of our ministry is not to develop academics but lovers of God who not only faithfully and accurately proclaim the gospel, but also embody it in their daily lives. Discipling the next generation of pastors in the Filipino church is paramount not only for the survival of the Filipino church but also the church in Asia. As Western influence wanes, the church must find new and innovative ways to reach the restricted and hostile nations of Asia. The solution may very well be through the Filipino missionary. The resilience and adaptability of Filipinos in less than hospitable conditions make them excellent missionary candidates to carry the good news of the Kingdom to the neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.
As we fellowshipped and visited with the Filipino students, we saw the second major need, ESL programs. The Philippines is rapidly catching up to the 21st century. The ability to understand and communicate in English immediately provides the Filipino with a significant employment advantage. Additionally, it offers an excellent entry point for Filipino missionaries gaining access to restricted countries.
With God’s faithfulness evident in the past, we have confidence in His plan as we move into the future. We are now ready to begin the next phase of our journey. We are very excited as we prepare to relocate to the Philippines and share the same proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven but in a different context.