By Pastor Jonathan S. Ferriol
A lot of good things are happening in the missionary front these days. From East to West, the winds of evangelistic changes are sweeping all across the churches of the PMCC (4th Watch) with gale force strength! And it’s a great sight to look at!
In the context of labor employment, common sense dictates that an employer will not be hiring unless there is work available. But once hiring begins, then, it only follows that there is a work to be done.
This principle is equally true in God’s kingdom. And right now, as I look at the status of our church’s missionary work, it is apparent that the Lord of the Harvest is presently “hiring” (read that as “calling”) workers to the mission fields!
Apostle Arsenio T. Ferriol began ratcheting of our missionary efforts with a call for more grassroots involvement of all church members to do personal witnessing. Called Personal Evangelism Program or PEP, this mobilization of individual members of the church to share the gospel to anyone we literally come in contact with, guarantees to enable us to potentially bring in scores of converts in a year. Not to mention the fact, that this is so biblical and New Testament-like approach, to say the least.
So far, it is working effectively among those who are diligent in doing PEP. I saw this video of a brother’s testimony (who is also an officer in the Philippine Navy) that narrated how he was able to convert over a 100 people already because of his commitment to PEP! Then, there’s a sister from Manila who already converted a good number of her employees by following the mechanics of PEP! These are but few of the many testimonials of church brethren about the effectiveness of PEP.
Coinciding with the introduction of PEP is the instituting of a missionary program that calls all young people in the church to go on a 2-year missionary work after graduating from high school or from college. In the Philippines and around our global districts, more and more young people have started embracing this radical missionary enlistment, which is called as Associate in Theology or AIT. Here in the United States district alone, there are a number of fresh high school and college graduates that have already signed up. They are presently doing their 2-year stint as missionaries across the U.S.
Augmenting our missionary force is not the only function of AIT’s but it will also function as a discipleship platform for those involved in it. Bishop Art believes that discipleship is caused by one’s deep involvement in the things of the kingdom of God. The deeper one’s engagement is, the richer his walk with the Lord will be.
Recently also, two global districts namely Middle East and Canada, have been finally allowed to create a Maranatha Bible School extension in order to expand our missionary training centers in these countries. It is observed that more and more of our young people in these districts are responding to the call for full time pastoral workers. And by having an extension campus of the MBS right in their country, these future church workers will have easier access to academic and practical ministerial training of the ministerial training arm of the church.
I have also learned in my relatively long years of missionary work that no two environments or contexts are alike. Each country and each continent have unique missions challenges and hurdles. An effective missionary paradigm in one country may not be necessarily productive in another. Hence, a more “contextualized” approach in missionary training is necessary to make our evangelistic efforts to be more effective. This is where the wisdom of an MBS extension comes in.
The U.S district was the first among these global districts to successfully establish an MBS extension outside the Philippines. Established for over a decade now, the MBS (U.S extension) so far has produced 5 batches of graduates, many of whom, are now serving full time pastors in our churches all across the United States and Canada. I thank the Lord because I have been instrumental, together with my other co-faculty members, in molding and shaping of these young men and women to be trustworthy church workers in God’s vineyard.
An important aspect of their training is the annual MBS (U.S extension) conference held every February. During these 2½ days of training and recharging, students are feted with in-depth lectures on doctrines, theology, and other essential teachings and practices on spiritual shepherding. I, for one, always look forward to this time of concentrated academic growth and spiritual recharging with the students. And I think the student themselves feel the same.
With all these unprecedented developments taking place in the church, I can’t help but feel excited about the “returns” or the “harvests” these past and present missionary mobilizations would bring to our church’s overall growth as well as expansion. Jesus himself alluded to this abundance of harvests when he said, ”I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor” – Matthew 4:38.
So I say, let these winds of change blow hard and strong! And like boats, may we all catch the wind with the sail of our partnership in order to take us to new shores of evangelistic discoveries!