An interdenominational evangelical movement announced its expansion to the Philippines to help the body of Christ heal from the wounds it suffered during a previous election.
Asian Access, which has worked with churches from 20 Asian countries to help train and equip leaders, has identified the Philippines as the site for its expansion on January 2017 – and the timing couldn’t be better.
Joe Handley, president of Asian Access, said there is a need for churches in the Philippines to be trained in church leadership and church planting, and there is also a need for “healing across the Body of Christ.”
A few years ago, an election caused a rift among the churches in the nation. A “major disagreement” arose such that “half the majority churches in the country were on one side of that election, the other half were on another.”
“And it caused a major rift between these two large movements of churches in the nation,” Handley recounted.
Handley said this could be a major factor that caused the growth of Philippine Christian churches to plateau.
There were only 7,000 to 8,000 churches in the country during the 80s, but church leaders prayed and worked together to reach a goal of having 50,000 churches by the year 2000. And God granted it; 51,000 churches were planted by 2001.
However, this growth slowed down when the rift happened a few years later. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, Philippine churches disagreed about issues like accusations of election manipulation and impeachment investigations regarding the president at the time.
Thankfully, God moved in the midst of the conflict and brought about reconciliation among the churches.
“A few years ago, right as Asian Access was sensing maybe God would be calling us there, just as we were making our first trip into the country, those two movements actually came back together, reconciled and said, ‘We need to be working together again,’” Handley said.
Asian Access believes it can help Philippine churches with many things, such as promoting unity, teaching church planting strategies and training leaders.
One thing they hope to address is to help pastors continue to cultivate their relationship with Christ as they serve others, which is something that many Bible schools do not focus on. Asian Access will also teach leaders “the important aspects of character and walking with Christ and treating each other in respect in honor.”
“Those are the elements treated throughout Asian Access in a way that helps bolster the Church. it strengthens the life of a pastor, it strengthens his walk with God, it strengthens the life of his marriage and in his family, and from that strength, from that deep-rootedness in Christ, his character begins to change,” Handley said.