Christianity is the dominant religion in the Philippines, but there still remains a deep need for discipleship training. Discipleship Essentials, TWR’s multi-media, multi-lingual discipleship training tool, is filling that need. The tool is free to use and distribute, but TWR 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 Discipleship Essentials champion in the Philippines. She is passionate about teaching others how to implement Discipleship Essentials in a small group setting. Back in the autumn of 2017, Elena spoke to a group of women at a conference and shared how to start a small group using Discipleship Essentials. 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 focussed 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 baptised believers.
“In April 2019, a daughter church was organised 10 kilometres away. And 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 organised 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!
But as with all parts of the world, the Philippines has been significantly impacted but Covid-19, with cities locked down and people urged to stay at home. Elena reflected on how the pandemic may affect their ministry moving forward.
“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.”
Join us as we praise God for the growth of small groups in the Philippines and the planting of new churches! We pray that families and communities will grow in faith despite lockdown, and that Elena and her team will find innovative and effective ways to continue their ministries.