BLESS Japan 2018 Mission Seminar & Workshops
Something of a phenomenon has happened in the Philippines.
The following is a story of how the International Teams Philippines began and how God is continually using her to bless the nations.
International Teams Philippines (ITP) was born in the 1980's when foreign missionaries from United States, Australia, and Canada came to pioneer a ministry for the urban poor. During those times, they were exposed and immersed in the squatter's area of Manila. As they pursued a long-term ministry, their partnership with the Filipinos brought forth learning experiences that ignited and incubated the vision for compassionate evangelism which was subsequently embraced by International Teams worldwide. That opened the door wide for more foreign missionaries desiring to serve among the poor, elevating the country to a much favored mission field by the west.
In the later stages of the ministry, more Filipinos joined the urban poor work but at the same time conflicts in ministry brought about an exodus of foreign missionaries out of the Philippines. They all went back to their respective countries and the Filipinos were left to fend on their own. The absence of western workers and funding weakened the work. It pushed ministries to a very fast decline. ITP was at that point faced with the dire possibility of closing her doors completely.
In 1999, Pastor Gani Sison became the National Director of ITP. It was a big turning point with all the difficulties and pressing concerns that were present in the organization. Surprisingly, he did not work out a survival plan instead he brought in a vision of a new ITP. This time the focus is not on small urban poor communities but on a scale of unimaginable proportion though. He presented a dream of sending Filipinos to the whole world to bring the gospel of salvation to all. It was a vision that aligns with prophecy given to their nation ..."The Philippines will become a missionary sending nation!" He passionately led the organization towards that dream.
Year 2000 ... by the grace of God, what seemed to be the most trying times of ITP gave birth to a completely new organization which was then called IT East Asia (ITEA). ITEA pursued a strategy which at that time was considered a revolutionary approach to mission work ...Pure Faith. Without funding from the west, he challenged his fellow Filipinos to focus all their hope and trust in GOD alone. This was the year of the “new wineskin” as ITEA ventured into mobilizing believers for global missions ... and deploying them not just across the Philippines but to the nations of the world.
PHENOMENAL BLESSINGS & MIRACLES
From then on miracle after miracle began to unfold. In answer to prayers and as God had promised, “THEY WILL COME,” men and women indeed came to heed God's call ... through "word of mouth". What a great inspiration it is to recall those treasured moments when excitement and anticipation were capturing the hearts of everyone and inspiring them to take their flights of faith and leave their comfort zones. ITEA believed that the fulfillment of God’s promise has begun! It was a foretaste of the massive missionary movement in the Philippines that was to come. The growth even of local Philippine ministries led to the a decision favoring the change of ITEA corporate name back to IT Philippines (ITP).
In a span of two years, ITP was able to send out more than a hundred missionaries creating a significant presence in many Asian countries. They managed to get there by boat, by plane, by whatever it took to reach their God- assigned mission field. The faith of everyone was raised to a higher level and one after another, each one was able to go and serve in foreign lands - - even those coming from tribal and underprivileged communities. Sometime 2008, Kevin Dyer, the founder of International Teams, wrote in his newsletter," ...ITP has become the fastest growing entity in our global ministry. In fact, today nearly half of all ITeams missionaries worldwide are Filipinos!" It was not just an affirmation for the Philippine ministry but more so for FAITH.
The same pattern continues now. Filipinos are cross-culturally immersed, sustained and growing in faith and service to God! The greatest miracle has been that all these are funded mostly by Filipinos. As Pastor Gani would say, “It is obvious that we have a special favor from God." The miracles that we continue to see have opened the doors for the young and old, educated and uneducated whose only qualification is their having bold faith to fulfill God's plan in their lives even if they have very meager financial resources.
My wife and I have been with the International Teams Philippines since May 2001. Our first foray into overseas missions brought us to Japan. Since then, five more missionary families came and took residence in both west and central Japan. Moreover, God has spurred more mission activities in the Kanto region, Chiba and Kawasaki in particular.
The Assembly Kyoto Church is set to host a group of ITP missionaries-in-training from October 22~24, 2018. Mission seminars and workshops will be held as they look into the future on how to BLESS Japan even more.