The Joys and Challenges of House-church Ministry in the Philippines

I worked as a single woman pastor in Japan and then as a
missionary in Cambodia until I met a Filipino evangelist
there. After we got married, we moved to the Philippines
and started a ministry together as evangelists for the Bohol
Gospel Saturation Project (BGSP). BGSP is a churchplanting
movement, started by my husband’s parents, that
aims to plant house churches all over the Bohol Province
of the Philippines and beyond.
I am very excited and overjoyed that God has been using
me in ministry here. It is such a privilege that this little
Japanese woman can go to isolated islands, or even to
tribal people in the mountains, to participate in and conduct
evangelistic events. I found my ministry can go deeper and
a lot of opportunities and friends are given me because I
have a local evangelist partner. Without the hesitation of
bringing in “foreign” things, I am now more confident to
teach and share whatever I have to offer.
Since it is a house-church movement, our pastors and
workers are basically tent-makers: some are fishermen;
some are builders; some have small businesses. They do
struggle financially, but they are so passionate about God’s
work that they use all they have for the ministries. My
husband and I also live simply, like these people, and I am
beginning to understand more about their lives, struggles,
and joys. And our church and the BGSP workers treat me
as a team member as we do evangelistic events or go on
mission trips together. I feel that I am really accepted as
one of them. That is what I wanted!
Basically, my husband and I travel a lot because we are
helping with local churches’ activities, and if anybody
invites us for preaching, training, Bible study, or
workshops, we will go anywhere. When we are at home,
I have a daily Bible study and recorder class for children
and help our church’s free preschool. Actually, all of the
activities take place at our house, since it is a house church
and a house preschool.
Filipino children are so eager to learn. After we held a
Kids’ Camp, those who attended the camp were teaching
their friends all the memory verses, songs, and dances
they had learned. In the end, all the neighborhood children
learned the songs, and they sang them loudly as they
visited us everyday. They are very friendly and sweet.
Often we come home to find by the window some letters
written on a piece of cardboard or toilet paper saying,”We
love you Ate (elder sister) Ayako and Kuya (elder brother)
Jun Jun.” When I see these children eagerly practicing
how to draw, play a recorder, and even write Japanese
characters that they have copied from my broken laptop’s
keyboard, I feel that there are so many needs we can fill
since they lack opportunities. We could open a home
library/art space for children. Or we could set up a library
van to go around Bohol. We could make a park. We could
create some jobs for the parents so that the children can go
to school. We thank God that we have child sponsorships
with the assistance of the Korean church that helps with
schooling. Also, we give children some lectures about how
to protect themselves from crime.
For now, we are making some needed materials, such as
pictures, manga tracts, and children’s books. We are also
preparing to produce songs, films, and later broadcasts for
world-wide evangelism and training, since we have those
creative backgrounds and believe these are callings God
has for us. We are hoping and believing that our church
will plant more house churches and expand their ministries
more and more. Even though it is not a big church, our
members are already well-trained, and everybody is
passionately participating with what they have.
Some families have opened their houses for outreach
ministries, and one family has been praying about
starting a new house church at their house. Every Sunday
afternoon, two youth go to an outreach place to gather and
teach children about Jesus, while people left in the church
handle “Kids’ Super Sunday.” The passion for bringing
the Gospel to struggling people is really the core of our
ministry here. There is not much strategizing, theology,
or theory and not much planning or budgeting. Our only
method is love, passion, and listening to the Holy Spirit’s
The Joys and Challenges of House-church Ministry
in the Philippines
by Ayako Ogawa Beltran, Kyodan missionary
Attentive children in Bohol in the Philippines

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