At its conception, One Challenge has been an organization determined to reach nations for Christ. As part of One Challenge, Philippine Challenge (PC) shares this goal. Their heart in accomplishing this has never changed, but you’ll see their method has as you read here about the spreading of DAWN throughout SE Asia.
A little bit of history
In the 1950s and 60s, Philippine Challenge’s focus on “crusade style” evangelism was seeing little longevity and faith growth. In the Philippines, the joke was, “we’ve evangelized the country six times, and we don’t see a lot of fruit as a result of it.”
Philippine Challenge leaders began to realize the need for local believers to get involved and “Christ the Only Way Movement” began in the Philippines, where local believers would create and lead “in-home” Bible studies. After years of this, the Bible studies proved strong, but no churches grew from them. After a nationwide research project, PC workers realized established churches were not in an easy distance to most Filipinos.
Thus, in 1980, the Discipling A Whole Nation (DAWN) concept was born. In the Philippines, DAWN was successful after a pastor’s conference and research project that showed which barangays (villages) needed a church and encouraging Filipino pastors to “adopt a barangay.”
“We took maps that showed pastors the barangays that had no church. We asked, ‘Would you adopt one of these barangays in one of your areas for church planting?’ That was a big success because that visually helped pastors understand what the challenge was,” says Eric, OC’s global mission strategist.
Once OC worker Dave W. developed the church planter coaching system, the church planting initiative in the Philippines took off. “I think what made that a success was that you weren’t teaching them how to plant the church. It wasn’t a one way communication thing. It was getting them together, and they were holding each other accountable for going through the process. We got a much higher success rate that way in planting churches,” Eric says.
As Filipino leaders began to get a vision for planting a church in every barangay in the Philippines and they now had the tools to do it through the church planting coach training, the nation saw a real increase in churches planted and people coming to Christ.
In 1984, there were 7,000 churches in the Philippines. Today there are 66,000 and Filipino church leaders have set a goal to see at least 120,000 churches planted by the year 2020.
One of the biggest questions on how this disciple making movement would spread in Asia was whether or not the structure would work in a Buddhist, Communist or Hindu nation. Church leaders are beginning to see a vision of how saturated church planting may begin to work in their context.
Cambodia has seen its fair share of turmoil, for example the Killing Fields under communist Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot, which finally came to an end in the late 70s. A Christian man, who Eric met in California nearly 40 years ago, narrowly escaped death under the Pol Pot regime but has recently returned to Cambodia and is the President of Campuchia Bible Institute, which trains pastors.
This man knew of the DAWN movement in the Philippines through correspondence with Eric, and he has been encouraging widespread church planting in his nation. He got in contact with OC through Eric, as well as Encompass World Partners, to help facilitate a movement of church planting throughout Cambodia.
Although not directly connected to the DAWN movement in the Philippines, today the church in Cambodia is striving to plant a church in every village in Cambodia by 2020, an initiative called MK2021. Once the goal what set “then they started asking the question, how do we get all these pastors from these different denominations and theological persuasions together to agree to work together to get a church in every village?” Eric says.
The leader of MK2021 got in contact with the Global Church Planting Network, which is closely connected to OC, and OC’s Philippines mobilization center, Philippine Challenge, answered the need. Dan and Jean Parilla are currently raising money to work in Cambodia helping to facilitate church planting in the region. “Dan is a great church planter. He has planted, I don’t know how many, but dozens of churches in the Philippines. So he knows how to get it done. He knows the coaching system,” Eric says. “So he is going there to work along the side of this director of MK 2021 to build this up and get the church planting network started. Their commitment is for two years.”
To read more on OC involvement in MK2021 in Cambodia visit: Partnering with MK2021 in Cambodia
One of the most exciting developments in One Challenge’s global world is how the Lord is moving in Vietnam. Prior to 1975, OC had a resident team in Vietnam, but they were expelled during the Vietnam War. Since that time, there has been little development in the nation. In the last year, Eric and another OC worker, Dave, were invited to interview church leaders there.
“We didn’t find anybody that knew anything at all about the DAWN Movement. But, when we started talking about what had happened in the Philippines, they were really curious. Their first reaction was it could never happen here, because we are still a communist country,” Eric says. “The second reaction was ‘Why couldn’t it happen?’ Maybe we can find some creative solutions to some of these issues that we have to face.”
There are many difficulties in the nation. Past betrayals and conflicts have made church leaders distrust one another, a large grouping of pastors could never be possible and foreigners leaving big cities would raise governmental red flags. But the Lord is good, and although OC’s relationship with Vietnam’s church leaders is new, OC workers recently signed a memorandum to come alongside leaders and help facilitate their goals. Praise the Lord!
The stirrings of DAWN in Thailand are just beginning; however, the nation has been on OC’s radar for many years, although its physical presence there is small. “We have had an ongoing contact with Thailand since 1980. They had developed a research committee; they had done very through research on the evangelical culture in Thailand,” Eric says. “They discovered they were among the tribal people up in the north and where the true Thai really lived; there were very few churches. Probably in 1980, one of the largest churches in the country had 600 members.”
Nothing has really developed in Thailand, as far as church planting initiatives go, until recently. A vice president of a large rubber company has determined that the company is going to start a church in every village on all their plantations in their country. This would be ministering to true Thai peoples and the mountain people.
“He can get the key leaders in Thailand at any time, and we can have a pastor’s conference where they can establish their own goals if they want to do that,” Eric says. This project is still very much in the developmental stage.
Pray for open doors in Thailand and that this man will be guided by the Holy Spirit in his desire to see churches spread throughout Thailand.
Japan is a nation in Asia that has seen very little growth in the church after World War II. Eric says Japan has always fascinated him; however, OC had to close its doors in the nation many years ago. Many organizations experienced Japan’s resistance to the gospel, and workers were coming home seeing very little fruit.
Cecil O. was one of these workers working with Encompass World Partners. His vision for the country changed when he returned. He believed the Lord would work through Japanese men and women who returned to Japan after living abroad.
In the course of working with Cecil, Eric met Kuni Sano, a young surfer determined to surf every great wave beach in the world. In the late 70s, “He came to faith in Jesus through this ministry in Long Beach and went back to Japan. He started a chain of coffee shops similar to Starbucks,” Eric says. “He started small but eventually grew into 30 stores. He decided he would start a Bible study group on Sundays in every one of the stores that he owned.”
When his stores, and therefore Bible studies, grew to 30 units, Kuni began to worry about leadership. He eventually began a mentor relationship with Eric and Cecil. “We talked him through a system for developing new leaders out of the people who were attending bible study. He has effectively put this good use. He is ready for another round of expansion,” Eric says.
OC prays this house church movement in Japan will grow and eventually have great impact on the nation. Pray with us in this endeavor.
How to Pray
The Lord is one the move in Asia in miraculous ways.
- Pray for continued open lines of communication throughout these partnerships.
- Pray for safety of workers in these tumultuous areas at times.
- Pray the Spirit would continue to bring people to Christ.