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Photo: Southern-Asian Pacific Division News

2,000 Baptized in the Philippines, 500 of them former rebels

Thousands were recently baptized in the Philippines following an AWR four-year TIM project.

2,000 Baptized in the Philippines, 500 of them former rebels

Andreas Mazza, EUDnews, Adventist Review.

The President of the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Ted N.C. Wilson, and his wife, Nancy, are traveling for three weeks in the Philippines as part of their first international trip since COVID-19 struck in March 2020.

Dubbed as “Earth's Final Countdown”, the first leg of this integrated evangelism series culminated at Philippine International Church on November 6, 2021.

"It is a great privilege to be in this country of the Philippines. I've been here several times, but this time is a unique, a special time to give God the glory for what He's doing in ‘Earth's Final Countdown’ series,” he emphasized.

Wilson Prays for Philippine President

On November 10, president Wilson prayed for the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, during a meeting at the president’s residence in Manila. The meeting was expected to be brief but lasted for 36 minutes as Duterte spoke about his faith and Wilson addressed the issue of serving leadership.

Wilson, who led an Adventist delegation to Malacañan Palace, also expressed appreciation to Duterte for supporting religious liberty, promoting healthy lifestyle choices, and granting amnesty to former rebels who have laid down their arms after hearing the gospel through Adventist World Radio (AWR). “I want to thank you for providing amnesty to the former rebels, who now have had their hearts changed by the powerful broadcasts of Adventist World Radio,” Wilson said at the meeting on the evening of November 10.

With Duterte’s consent, Wilson opened the Bible and read the text of Micah 6:8, which says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (NKJV).

New Center of Influence inaugurated

The following day, on November 11, 2021, president Wilson, together with the Adventist World Radio president, Duane McKey, and the Southern Asia-Pacific Division president, Samuel Saw, led the inauguration of the new Center of Influence. Hurdled by the challenges brought on by the pandemic, after almost two years of untiring construction, the Life Hope Impact Center finally stood firm as a new Center of Influence located in Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

President Wilson opened the ceremony by noting the importance of establishing facilities and buildings that will serve as centers of influence to banner various Adventist messages to the world. He noted the value of attending to the community’s needs holistically, physically, mentally, spiritually, and in all other aspects of life.

“This massive complex of influence, this building, will be a center of digital evangelism not only in the city of Silang but also around the world,” President Wilson said.

A Radio Miracle

Adventist World Radio (AWR) began broadcasting over local radio airwaves in Mindoro in 2017 as part of an Adventist world church initiative known as TMI evangelism. TMI stands for Total Member Involvement, a program that encourages every church member to bring someone to Jesus.

AWR leased time on local radio stations for sermons and Bible studies ahead of evangelistic meetings that year. The broadcasts were a smashing success, with each daily program offering a question of the day to which listeners could call in answers and receive prizes such as religious literature. About 1,400 people were baptized after the June 2017 meetings, and the broadcasts have continued until today.

Since 1969, the Philippines has been mired in conflict with rebels in Mindoro. A seemingly endless cycle of ambushes and counterattacks has killed 40,000 people. A number of rebels began listening to Adventist World Radio (AWR) in 2019 and, as COVID-19 swept the world in 2020, they decided to surrender to Jesus, according to the AWR president, Duane McKey.

Former Rebels Baptized in the Philippines after Listening to the Radio

After so many years of conflict, the rebels, holed up in the lush green mountains of Mindoro, began listening to Adventist World Radio (AWR). Then,  November 13, approximately 500 former rebels, including their leader, Ka Martin, laid down their weapons and gave their hearts to Jesus in baptism. In all, more than 2,000 people were baptized at the conclusion of island-wide evangelistic meetings.

“This is the amazing work of the Holy Spirit through Adventist World Radio,” said Wilson, who baptized the former rebel leader and others at a mass baptism.

A Warm Welcome

The AWR president, Duane McKey, described the day as historic and he warmly welcomed the former rebels into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “With that welcome comes a responsibility to fulfill the Gospel Commission in which Jesus said, ‘Go, preach, and baptize in all the world,’” he said, standing near president Wilson on the stage. He called attention to the blue shirts that the former rebels and other baptismal candidates were wearing.

“Your shirts say, ‘I will go!’” McKey said. “So that is the commission you are accepting from Jesus. ‘I will go!’ … Today, leaving the past behind, we accept that commission, that charge, of Jesus to go to your friends and neighbors and tell them about Jesus, that He is coming soon.”