Making Disciples in the Philippines

December 3, 2018 • Philippines
Members of a village in the Philippines gather for Bible study led by Marcelino Yongson. Marcelino and his wife Tess learned how to disciple believers and how to start small groups through a Samaritan's Purse training.
Members of a village in the Philippines gather for Bible study led by Marcelino Yongson. Marcelino and his wife Tess learned how to disciple believers and how to start small groups through a Samaritan's Purse training.

A Bible study in an impoverished Filipino community has resulted in hundreds of children, youth, and adults growing in their faith in Jesus Christ.

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Tess and Marcelino serve together in the Philippines.

Tess and Marcelino serve God together in the Philippines.

Every medical test indicated that Tess had cancer. Doctors told her that the tumor was large and should be removed as soon as possible.

Yet, on the day of her surgery, the tumor was gone. None of the doctors could explain what had happened—but Tess knew.

“God took it out,” she said. “God gave me a second chance.”

Tess committed to serving God the rest of her life, and that passion led her and her husband Marcelino back to their hometown in the Philippines to start a ministry among children and young adults.

When she moved, she could hardly have expected the tremendous fruit she’s seen after participating in a Samaritan’s Purse evangelism training. The small Bible study she held in her home has now multiplied many fold, reaching hundreds of people in dozens of groups across the community.

Committed to Christ

Tess and Marcelino Yongson had only been Christians for a few months when Tess received the cancer diagnosis. They came to faith during a church retreat in Texas.

Adults and children are coming to faith through the Bible study started by Tess and Marcelino.

Adults and children are coming to faith through the Bible study started by Tess and Marcelino.

“When I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, everything changed,” Tess explained. “There was more to life than money and work.”

Tess realized that everything she was working for in life was “all vanity.”

The Yongsons had moved to the United States from the Philippines years earlier to start a restaurant and although they worked hard, their business was failing and they were in debt. Yet, Tess knew that dreams of success no longer compared to her desire to serve God.

After they returned to the Philippines, Tess began reaching out to children in her village displaced by deadly Typhoon Haiyan, which had recently hit the country. She prayed with them and provided food and clothing.

She also invited children and youth to her home to study the Bible. “They were hungry for the Word of God,” Tess said.

Spreading the Gospel

Tess was excited about having a Bible study in her home, but the group wasn’t increasing in attendance. Tess had never been discipled, and she didn’t know how to share her faith with others or how to start more Bible studies.

“We didn’t know where to go for training,” Tess said. “We were praying for the Lord to help us.”

  • Women and children in the Philippines
    Many people in the village earn a living by growing vegetables.

That’s when the Yongsons connected with Samaritan’s Purse, through our local ministry project that trains church and community leaders in the biblical foundations of Christian leadership, community outreach, and Christian counseling. They learned how to teach God’s Word, disciple new believers, share the Gospel, and equip others to start small groups.

Before long, the spiritual impact was unlike anything they ever anticipated. Members of their group began sharing their faith and starting Bible studies in their own homes. Now, nearly 350 people are meeting in 40 Bible studies in the Yongsons’ community and in neighboring villages.

“I’m very grateful for Samaritan’s Purse,” Tess said. “We are growing fast. We want to see a small group in every home. Our prayer is for leaders to rise up.”

A Life of Faith

Mylyn lives in the same village as Tess and Marcelino. Most people are farmers or travel outside the village for work in construction, as does Mylyn’s husband. Construction jobs are physically demanding and the work is inconsistent, making it difficult for Mylyn and her family to sustain a stable income.

Mylyn was one of the first to participate in the village Bible study.

Mylyn was one of the first to participate in the village Bible study.

Mylyn was one of the first to join the Yongsons’ Bible study. Although at the time she didn’t know anything about the Bible, her heart was quickly overwhelmed by the Gospel and she prayed to receive Jesus Christ as her Savior.

“I changed,” Mylyn said. “Before, I was always angry. It was hard for me to accept my faults and I argued with my family.”

Life is very different now that Mylyn has a personal relationship with Jesus. She is joyful and her family experiences more peace.

“Every morning, I read my Bible. Before we go to sleep, we listen to worship songs,” Mylyn said. “We have a happy family.”

Her daughter has also come to faith in Christ, and Mylyn is praying that the rest of her family will soon become Christians.

“Faith is the most important thing,” Mylyn said. “All of my life is about faith.”

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Philippines Projects Samaritan's Purse is working to improve the quality of life for impoverished families in both rural and urban areas of the Philippines. We are training women and expectant mothers on best feeding practices for infants and young children. Our teams are providing clean water, latrines, and hygiene education. We’re also supporting families through livelihood projects such as community gardening and pig raising, as well as vocational skills and microenterprise training. Most importantly, our staff are sharing the Gospel. We partner with local churches to offer evangelism and discipleship courses so that they can reach their communities with the hope of Jesus Christ.

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