Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017
Relationship with MB Mission helps make it possible
Friends of Jesus (FOJ), a USMB church plant in Las Vegas, Nev., that targets the city’s Filipino population, is planting a church in the Philippines. A friendship with MB Mission, the Mennonite Brethren global mission and church planting agency, is helping to make it possible.
The new congregation began meeting March 12 in Calatrava, a city of about 85,000 in the Negros Occidental province. Church planters Louella Binolorao and Anle Ferolino are leading the effort under team leader and pastor Lemuel Binolirao. All three are from Bethel Church, a vibrant congregation about 45 minutes north of Calatrava.
While Bethel Church is not Mennonite Brethren, Andy Basilio, pastor of FOJ, says the new church will be solidly Mennonite Brethren. “It is our plan to start and nurture MB congregations,” he says.
Eight adults and 20 children attended the first gathering, which included worship and proclamation of the Gospel, followed by feeding of the children. The church plant plans to meet twice each month.
Friends of Jesus had its start in 2013 when Mission USA and the Pacific District Conference (PDC) partnered with an existing congregation to re-launch as a USMB church. FOJ has a significant Filipino-American makeup and targets the city’s Filipino population.
Gary Wall, PDC district minister, says, “When we began our relationship with Friends of Jesus in Las Vegas, we knew the Lord was uniting us together in a special relationship. Little did we know then that our relationship would extend to support for a church planting partnership emerging in the Philippines.”
When Basilio expressed a desire to plant a church in his home country, Don Morris, then director of USMB church planting, put Basilio in contact with MB Mission. Galen Wiest, MB Mission’s regional mobilizer on the West Coast, says that since most of the attendees of FOJ are Filipino or have family ties in the Philippines, planting a church there was “a natural connection for them.”
MB Mission supports a network of church plants in the Philippines, led by Sam Arcano, by sending short-term teams. Conversations between Basilio and Wiest, Arcano and Bob Davis, of MB Mission’s leadership training team in Southeast Asia, are helping the church plant begin in a healthy way.
Davis says, “We recognize that mission is not merely from here to somewhere else, but is in reality from everywhere to everywhere. The relationship that is emerging between Andy and Leah Basilio and the Friends of Jesus church in Las Vegas and MB Mission's work in the Philippines is a great example.”
He adds, “There is something special about helping people ‘go home’ to reach people with the Gospel.”
Basilio is deeply grateful for the relationships with USMB, PDC and MB Mission that have helped move this project forward. “We are glad that we are able to carry on the work and bless others as we are being blessed,” he says. “This is an example that MB has modeled for us.”
FOJ hopes to launch a second church plant in Cebu City, about 55 miles from Calatrava, by the end of April, and Basilio asks for prayer for both endeavors. “May the Lord supply the needs, because this is His work,” he says.