I’m posting something I wrote for one of our discussion forums in Asbury Seminary. (I’m in seminary, by the way.) I just wanted to archive it for personal use and to share with some friends and colleagues. But if you’re subscribed, you’ll get a notification. This is the kind of thing that is guaranteed to excite and sober me up at the same time.
The forum discussion asked us to think about unique cultural gifts that our context has that contributes to integration and holism in the world.
This was a fun exercise, but also one that makes me very passionate. It’s these kinds of thoughts that make me passionate about campus ministry, church growth, and national transformation in the Philippines. More than just seeing a large church movement or even a prosperous nation, we want to see this nation fulfill its purpose, which I believe has to do with helping other nations fulfill their purpose.
I see at least three distinct ways that the Philippines provides integration and contributes to holism globally.
First of all, like many Asian nations, the Philippines has a very strong community and family feel. We are very aware of how members of the community feel and how we feel is determined by our connection to the community. This can have obvious drawbacks, but when it is redeemed it is a very powerful tool for infusing communities with warmth, joy, caring, and unity. Filipinos have often become the relational glue in churches, companies, families, and other organizations in different parts of the world. I believe God has given us this characteristic to serve the world with.
Secondly, Filipinos have a natural propensity for service. In its unredeemed form, this is seen the vast number of Oversees Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are in service roles all over the world, varying from being maids, nannies, nurses, doctors, physical therapists, and more. There is a high demand for Filipino service around the world. But even these people who have to leave the country because of poverty are used by God to bring the Gospel into some of the most inaccessible locations – from oil rigs in the middle of the sea to Arab sheikh households. Besides this, the act of serving our fellow man and woman is a reflection of our Lord Himself. Many Filipino hospice nurses double as ministers to their patients.
Thirdly, Filipinos have a unique global position because of the cultural mix of East and West. This allows the Philippines to serve almost as a bridge between East and West. Many anthropologists and sociologists have remarked on how Filipinos aren’t “as Asian” as the rest of their neighbors and often sometimes bear similarities with the Western nations. This can be attributed to over 300 years of Spanish colonization, over 50 years of direct American colonization, and more than 50 years of indirect American cultural production that still has Filipinos aspiring for all things American.
Because of this, we can bridge the gap between continents. In the church world, it makes the Filipinos great missionaries because we have no history of aggression or long standing feuds against other nations. Translating to another culture isn’t difficult since all Filipinos do this regularly. Our Filipinos missionaries have planted churches in almost every nation in Asia now.
In our movement, Every Nation, God has given us a breakthrough church in the Philippines. But we see our role as being a bridge to serving the rest of the nations of the world. In our campus ministry, for example, we’ve adopted many systems and processes from the United States that have been very effective for us when contextualized properly. Now, our campus ministry in the Philippines is in a position to serve the other campus ministries in China, Japan, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Vietnam, etc. We share the very systems we adopted and teach them to contextualize things the way we did. What a marvelous thing to think that such a small and powerless nation politically could be a conduit for transforming other nations through the Gospel!
All of this put together – strong relational ties, propensity for service, and a unique global position – tells me that a significant part of the Philippines’ purpose is to serve other nations and help them know God and take their place in the roster of redeemed nations. It would our joy, our honor, and our privilege to know that God used our small efforts to bring other nations into His Kingdom.