One Challenge is thankful to celebrate alongside Philippine Challenge (PC) for its faithful service to the Lord for 65 years. Many current OC workers spent time in the Philippines, and for many it was their first overseas mission experience.
To celebrate this milestone, here’s a little history of how the Lord has used PC to accomplish his purpose in the islands of the Philippines and beyond.
The Philippines was the second nation of ministry for OC, the first being Taiwan. Bishop Enrique Sobrepena from the Philippines took note of the ministry happening in Taiwan through OC. He approached Dick Hillis and his team to request a similar ministry to be brought to the Philippines. Along with this request, Bishop Sobrepena asked for a Venture for Victory team (now Sports Ambassadors) to come.
God orchestrated both things to happen in the next few years. In addition to these ministries, the team established a new evangelistic opportunity through a traveling quartet. Ells Culver headed the projects in the nation and soon the ministry began to grow.
In the early years, the ministry looked like impact ministry. Ells hoped to establish a resident team as soon as a leader could be found.
Chuck and Betty Holsinger became the first team leaders in Manila and worked alongside Navigators mission workers Gene and Mary Denler in a Bible correspondence course ministry.
Apart from the evangelism ministry of sports and music, the team saw opportunity to reach and disciple young people. The country was devastated from World War II and many lives were lost. The young people needed to be the building blocks of the nation. So PC focused its emphasis on the youth to reach the future leaders of the Philippine church. Often schools were more open to hosting concerts, basketball games, and other events.
In the late 50s, God grew the ministry and soon teachers like Tine and Jan Hardeman joined the team to serve at Faith Academy. In the upcoming decade, the ministry shifted from evangelism to church multiplication.
Discipling Whole Nations
In the late 60s, James H. Montgomery introduced the idea of training Filipinos and planting churches. He gave leadership positions to Filipinos and provided leadership and strategy to the ministries run by Filipinos. This was a realization of Dick Hillis’s vision, that whole nations would be discipled when men and women were equipped to reach their own nation for Christ.
At this time, it was deemed necessary to concentrate on church growth and church planting and give leadership and strategy to local churches to achieve a national goal. Although this was the goal, sports ministry and MK ministry at Faith Academy remained staples in the nation.
James’s mantra became “only Filipinos can make the Philippine church grow and foreigners should be willing to take the supporting roles.” A vision developed to plant a church in every barangay (village) in the 42,000 villages in the country. The team began to train Filipinos to not only plant churches but also train others to do the same.
In the 70s the PC teams opened a new office in the southern island of Mindanao. The office diversified many of its ministries including reaching out into the Muslim communities of the southern islands.
In the 1970s, it was estimated there were 5,000 evangelical churches in the nation. Philippine Challenge and its network of Filipino leaders set a goal to get that number to 50,000. In 2001, a new research project showed 52,000 churches in the nation! But the work was not yet done. The team determined that although the target number of churches was met, there were still 20,000 villages without a church.
This vision of a church in every barangay remains today, with many working to help realize this goal.
In 2012, God opened a way for PC to send trainers for church planting to Myanmar in partnership with OC Singapore. The idea formed to recreate the process that proved successful in the Philippine context and translated it into a Buddhist context. The ministry of the OC Global Alliance continues in Myanmar and many new churches have been planted and local trainers developed.
In 2016, in partnership with OC Singapore and One Challenge U.S., Philippine Challenge expanded the ministry model to Thailand. Today, networks are growing in Thailand resulting in new churches and many disciples. Six second generation networks have been started and are being led by local Thai trainers.
In addition to the impact ministries in Southeast Asia, Philippine Challenge sends Filipino mission workers all over the world, most often to areas Western workers could not have access or a platform for ministry.