October 12, 2012 by
Categories: International | Philippines
In September, Lynn Baird and Tony Walsh took a trip to the Philippines to serve pastors and churches Sovereign Grace has relationships with. Before the trip, Lynn posted prayer requests for their time. Today, Tony shares a recap of their time in the Philippines.
Lynn Baird and I have had the privilege of serving together in the Philippines on behalf of Sovereign Grace Ministries since 2005. It has been an honor for us to build friendship and partnership with pastor Fernando Impang, whom God has used to introduce us to many pastors and ministries throughout the Visayas region of the Philippines as well as lead us to an opportunity for ministry among the Bajao tribe on Bohol, a Muslim people that is on the list of unreached people groups.
Over the years, as we traveled to various islands, God has graciously answered our prayer that he would lead us to men with whom we could partner. We have been able to partner with pastors such as Fernando Impang, Pete Valdez, and Brian Baluca on Bohol and Cornelio (Nilo) Ebo of Cebu City, Cebu. These are men who would share our values and passion to see the gospel advance through planting churches with called, gifted, and trained local pastors. One of our joys has been to see these men grow in applying the gospel in their lives as husbands, fathers, and pastors and to see the fruit of this in their families and churches.
Our Time in Cebu
Among the things that made our recent trip in September of this year so timely was that Nilo and his family had recently returned home after Nilo had completed a year at the SGM Pastors College. It was wonderful to hear from Nilo and his wife, Nadine, about how their marriage, parenting, and paradigm for gospel-centered ministry were impacted by their time at the PC.
What made his year at the PC challenging was that Nilo was the lead pastor of an established church in Cebu, called His Dwelling Church, from which he had planted and cared for around 20 churches on different islands in the region. One of our top priorities for this trip was to spend time with his church and the pastors in their family of churches, and encourage and serve them with the Gospel.
During our time in Cebu, Nilo asked us to do a regional pastors conference on The Glorious Grace of God (essentially the doctrines of grace). Over 160 pastors and wives from the city and nearby islands attended. The pastors were very responsive, as was evident during our Q&A sessions. Many had never heard these truths taught before, and we heard many wonderful reports of pastors who now joyfully believe in the sovereign grace of God.
Nilo took us to see a new rental space that God has provided for them in an old mall in central Cebu City. This full-time space will open up many opportunities for ministry and training of pastors, but it will require some funds to clean up, paint, and remodel before it’s ready for use. Lynn and I would appeal to SGM churches to prayerfully consider raising some funds to help this church and family of churches get into this facility soon. Nilo also took us to the mountain village of Bon Bon, an hour’s drive from Cebu which can only be accessed when the river is low enough since there is no bridge. An elderly woman in their Bon Bon church plant has donated some acreage to the church. They see this as a possible future home of a full-blown Filipino Pastors College with dorms and classrooms.
Another kindness from God is the small role Lynn and I played in serving Matt and Lee Dwenells as they established an orphanage called Street Kids Philippines Mission and connecting them with Nilo. They have taken in around 20 children, who were all rescued off the streets of Cebu and live in one relatively small house with Matt and Lee. Lynn and I were able to travel with them to Bohol to see the land that God has graciously provided them for the future home of the orphanage. Sometime within the next year, there will be many opportunities to serve them by raising funds and sending teams to help with building and land development. They could also benefit from anyone the Lord might call to come and serve alongside them, whether for short or longer term periods of time. Lynn and I would highly commend them and this ministry.
Ministry in Bohol
On the Island of Bohol, we were able to meet with our good friends and partners in the gospel Pete Valdez, Brian Baluca, Rey Rodriquez, and Chester Impang (the son of Fernando Impang). The Sovereign Grace Church of Tagbilaran, led by Pete and Brian, invited Lynn and I to speak at a seminar for pastors and worship leaders they hosted in the city, attended by over 60 people. We were also asked to share at a well-attended dinner meeting for married couples in their church. But among the highlights of our time on Bohol was seeing how the gospel has taken root and grown in these men and their church.
A final highlight for us was having a ministry time with the church among the Bajao Tribe on Bohol. Pastor Johnny, who leads this humble church, was once the tribal witch doctor and his wife was demon-possessed. What an amazing work of God’s grace to see them now serving God and his people in this community. We worshiped together in their meeting place, located within the village which is built on stilts over the water. It’s always humbling to preach the gospel to this precious group who joyfully live for Jesus in such humble, difficult circumstances! On behalf of our SGM family of churches, we were able to help them financially so that they can make some much-needed repairs to their meeting space which is beginning to sag towards the water.
Although we don’t know what the future might hold, opportunities abound for ministry teams and partnership with the ministries of Nilo and the other men in order to establish a pastors college and plant churches, help these men reach more unreached people groups in the Philippines, and help build and support the Street Kids Orphanage. Exciting times are ahead!
September 13, 2012 by
Categories: International | Philippines
On September 20th, Tony Walsh and I will leave for the Philippines, specifically the islands of Cebu and Bohol, where we have the privilege to serve a growing number of churches led by Cornelio "Nilo" Ebo . We have been able to partner with these churches since 2003. This came about after Fernando Impang, a pastor on Bohol, contacted us expressing interest to know more about Sovereign Grace Ministries. He was invited to the Pastors Conference in 2003, and that summer we made our first trip to the area. This began a long-term commitment to work with these pastors and churches through seminars, personal ministry, and financial assistance.
One thing we have sought to do during these trips is to find the key leaders/pastors that we can build with for the purpose of helping to further equip them through seminars hosted by Nilo and the churches he’s been privileged to plant. Previous seminar titles have been: Gospel-Centered Parenting, Gospel-Centered Pastoring, Gospel-Centered Marriages, etc.. We are always seeking to keep our instruction centered around the main thing, the gospel. (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Over the last nine years, we have built primarily with five key pastors – Nilo Ebo, Fernando Impang , Pete Valdez, Rey Rodriguez, and Brian Baluca. We have brought all these men to the Pastors Conference at one time or another. We have also been developing relationships with some men on the island of Mindanao which we hope to see grow into a service opportunity in the future. Beyond that, we are seeking to develop inroads to the island of Siargao ,which has a world-class surf break. Of course, we would then have to test out the surf so we can relate well with the locals (you know...all things to all people).
What excites us most about this coming trip is reuniting with Nilo Ebo and his family. They came last year to our Pastors College and recently returned home. This has been the culmination of years of effort as we sought to identify a man who could go through our Pastors College and return to continue to build strong, healthy churches, as well as provide a base of operations for continued outreach to other parts of the Philippines. Nilo currently has 20-25 churches that he has either planted or who look to him for counsel and care. When we go, we bring these pastors in from many different islands to help equip and prepare them to return to their churches further trained and refreshed for gospel ministry. On this upcoming visit, we plan to lead a seminar with these men and other visiting pastors on God-Centered Theology. Nilo said he expects around 90 pastors to attend.
Here are some of the other things we will be doing during this visit:
- Exploring various options of reaching an unreached people group in the surrounding islands.
- Meeting with Matt and Lee Dwinells who run a ministry for homeless/orphaned street kids (connected with Nilo's church). They are currently in the process of buying land so that they can build a permanent home for the ministry. (a possible e-team endeavor!)
- Meeting with the Mayor of Cebu City (a population of 2 million)
- Developing future plans for visiting all the pastors related to Nilo
- Of course, ministering at Nilo's church on Sunday morning
While on Bohol, we will meet with the key pastors there: Fernando,Pete, Rey, and Brian. We will lead a seminar on worship as well. We typically have between 40 and 70 pastors come to these seminars. We will also likely meet with a small church that has been established among the Badjao, a people group still listed by missions agencies as unreached. We've already had the opportunity to help them build a meeting place for the church and finance the installation of a water supply system.
Would you please partner with us in prayer for this upcoming trip? Please pray for the following categories:
- The worship seminar we will host
- Our time with the Badjao (if that works out)
- Our relational time with the key pastors, as we spend time equipping and planning.
- Our combined Sunday service with these churches gathering together
- And, as you can imagine, please also pray for our health and safety as we travel.
Thank you for praying! It is a wonderful privilege to be able to go and minister to our Filipino brothers and sisters, and a joy to go representing you all in Sovereign Grace Ministries as we labor together in the mission of planting and building churches with the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Lynn Baird has pastored for 30 years in both Arizona and California. He serves as the associate pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Pasadena (CA). In the mid ’70s he was involved in planting a church near Phoenix, Arizona. Then in 1986 Lynn planted another church in Tempe, Arizona as a part of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Lynn moved out to California to serve on the staff of SGCP in 1991. He and his wife Terri have four children (three of whom are married).