Mentoring Enlivens Filipino Pastors and Churches

Nine years ago, Pastor James Ramos was about to give up being a minister.

One Degree Ministry leaders

His church in Binmaley, Pangasinan, the Philippines, had only 15 to 20 members and seemed to be stagnant.

Meanwhile, he was experiencing personal struggles and felt buried by regret, denial, bitterness, and depression.

Then, Ramos says, he found new life through One Degree Ministries, a biblical worldview mentorship program begun several years ago by Bob Harris, a Christian Reformed World Missions missionary in the Philippines.

Harris started the program because he noticed that many Filipino pastors had an underdeveloped biblical view of themselves and of the world.

“Filipino pastors have been taught or inherited a gospel that is primarily understood as a series of doctrines or spiritual beliefs,” says Bob.

“One is judged to be a good Christian or pastor if he or she knows and can systematically line up certain theological ducks in a row.”

Many Filipino pastors have understood the focus of Christianity as a mandate to act morally while waiting for the return of Christ.

The challenge comes when church leaders make mistakes. Pastors know they’ve sinned, but they won’t admit it, believing that they are beyond help. Fearing gossip and condemnation, they try to keep up appearances, but cracks emerge, hinting at what lies beneath.

“Because God’s nourishing sap of life isn’t able to freely flow into us, we begin to dry up and wither. And thus, our ministry becomes void of God’s enabling power,” says Harris.

One Degree Ministries brings small groups of church leaders together to dig deep into the Bible. Leaders also pray for each other, confess their sins to one another, and discuss how to apply the Scriptures to their lives.

In the process, they draw nearer to God, recognizing that they have already been saved by grace and forgiven for whatever they have done, and their faith compels them into further service for God.

As pastors have allowed God to work in every part of their lives, they have found renewed joy in ministry—and their churches have started to grow.

One Degree Ministries, begun by Harris with one group, now has 13 leaders working with pastors from over 100 churches.

Pastor Ramos says One Degree Ministries helped him to discover his value and forgiveness in Christ. It has given him a new outlook on life.

Ramos’s faith has moved him into action in his community. He now works with over 250 government officials in his city on values transformation trainings.

Among other things, the group has started a scholarship fund for deserving students to attend the university of their choice.

“When a pastor and his leaders start to understand God’s biblical worldview, then amazing things start to occur in their lives, ministries, and local communities,” says Harris.

“We take no credit for making these things happen. We are not the ones doing them. They are occurring because God is honoring their commitment, their faith, their prayers.”

About the Author

Sarah Van Stempvoort is a writer with Christian Reformed World Missions.
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