Studying the Bible has changed hearts in the Philippines
She walked into Bible study and poured her heart out to the group. Her husband was having an affair. Heartbroken, she asked the group to pray for them both. In a culture that loves to gossip, it was a brave thing to confess, and only a loving community like she enjoyed here could be trusted with such a personal request. She was judged by no one; but was offered advice, support and prayer.
This Bible study is part of a fast-growing network of Bible studies and house churches cropping up on the remote island of Catanduanes in the Philippines. While it looks like a tropical paradise, life there is hard. Most people are subsistence farmers and they live in the path of typhoons that wipe out much of the landscape each year.
It’s been more than ten years since a small, Filipino-led missionary team came to the isolated northern town of Payo, one of hundreds of villages on the island that had no evangelical witness. Using weekly Bible studies, evangelistic events and community service activities, a multiplying network of house-sized groups is reaching a significant population.
Team member Bryan describes their approach to the Bible studies this way:
“We want to move people into genuine Christian communities of believers. What does that look like? When people get together and discover God’s truth in His Word, there is a bond that forms. Not so much a bond of knowing things together, like in a classroom at school. But a bond formed as the Holy Spirit moves in each person, applying truth to their lives. It becomes less of an academic exercise and more of a shared experience.”
“As believers journey through life together, guided by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, they bond with each other in ways that are different from any other group setting. This bond serves to encourage and disciple each person as discipleship in community happens.”
On another night, a husband and wife came to Bible study grieving the loss of a son who was killed in a motorcycle accident. Their community gathered around them, providing the prayer and support needed in their time of grief. Of course, dramatic events like this don’t happen every week. These communities are filled with laughter, joy and the strength that comes from learning God’s Word together and living it out in daily life. This is how a Bible study becomes a house church – a living, changing, real community of believers who are a light to those around them.
“It gives us great joy to see the excitement on the faces of our Filipino brothers and sisters as they lead the group, Bryan says. I can’t help but wonder about the countless Christians who have yet to experience the joy of being used by God to bring others close to Him. If anyone is bored in their spiritual life, I encourage them to step out and share their faith with a non-believer, itâ€™s an instant cure for boredom!”