Spreading The Message In The Philippines

The Country

The Philippines consist of 7,107 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. They cover an area of 1,150 miles from north to south and 700 miles west to east. All together, they have a land area of over 115,000 square miles or an area slightly larger than the state of Arizona, with an estimated population of 91 million.

Considering that there are at least 77 major languages and dialects in the Philippine islands, it is interesting to note that the Philippines is the third largest English-speaking country in the world, which is why so much English material is sent into this country.

The famous Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, was the first European to explore the Philippines. His expedition was sponsored by Spain, who then settled the islands in 1565. Along with the settlers came the Roman Catholic missionaries, and today Philippines is over 80% Catholic.

Protestantism was first introduced by Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries, who arrived with the American soldiers in 1899 during the Spanish-American war. The Protestant denominations, mainly Presbyterians and Methodists, gained a foothold, and later the Pentecostals also came to the Philippines.

Most of the progress made by religions in the Philippines were the result of wars. The invading Spanish brought in Catholicism. The Americans, after the Spanish American War brought in Protestants, and the U.S. influence (often Pentecostals) came after World War II.

Over the years, the people of the Philippines have endured tremendous hardships. Between 200,000 and 600,000 Filipinos died in the war against the United States from 1899 to 1903. Most of them were civilians, killed more often by famine and disease brought on by warfare than by actual fighting. The war destroyed livestock and interrupted farming activity, thus seriously reducing agricultural output and creating food shortages.

During World War II, the Filipinos suffered brutally at the hands of the Japanese invaders. One million Filipinos, out of a wartime population of 17 million, were killed during that war. The capital city of Manila was, after Warsaw, the most destroyed Allied city of World War II, and the war destroyed 80% of the Philippine economy.

With the different occupying countries over the years, as well as the deep-rooted native population, there are many different languages and dialects spoken in the Philippines. The three principal indigenous languages are Cebuano, Tagalog, and Ilocano.

Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the national language, Filipino, which is based on Tagalog. Filipino is taught in all schools and is gaining widespread acceptance across the country. Many use English, Fukienese, or Mandarin as second languages. Nearly all professionals, academics, and government workers speak some English.

After World War II, the Philippines enjoyed rapid economic growth. This growth slowed over time, and today the country suffers from severe poverty.

The Work

With the millions of English-speaking Filipinos, the Message was quick to take hold in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of these believers spoke other languages and dialects which enabled them to tell others who did not speak English about Brother Branham and his Message to the Bride of Christ.

English The Spoken Word books have been sent to individuals in the Philippines since the late 1960’s, but larger shipments were not possible, as even the $1.00 duty that Customs placed on just a 20” x 30” canvas mailing bag of books was beyond the financial capability of most believers to pay. Also, the majority of Filipinos do not live in the cities where English is spoken.

Distribution was also often a problem, for the only way to reach some island villages was by horse or boat. In the late 1960’s a horse had been purchased by believers for one local pastor, and in the late 1980’s a boat was provided by the William Branham Evangelistic Association to bring the Message to villages reached only by rivers.

Because of the duty charges, we were extremely limited in what we could send into the country. In 1991, when one small shipment that was inadvertently declared and sent through Customs cleared with almost no duty charges, we felt that the Lord allowed this as a trial shipment and was opening a door for us to get large quantities of books and tapes into the Philippines.

Banking that the precedent established by that shipment would now also enable us to send material to the Philippines without large duty charges, we prepared the largest shipment of English tapes ever sent out from VGR at that time. This shipment of 11 complete tape libraries, 50 “Seed Libraries,” and 100 solar recorders went through customs without any difficulty and virtually without duty charges, opening the door for us to provide the Filipino people with the Word of the Lord.

As the Gospel spread, there was an increasing need to translate the Message into languages such as Tagalog and Cebuano for the believers throughout the islands. In 1996, we began translating the Message into Tagalog, the most commonly spoken language in that country. Other languages soon followed.

The Message continued to grow over the years, and today there are upwards of 600 Message churches with congregations ranging from a handful of believers to several hundred.

With the great need for material in the Philippines came the need for a new office, recording studio, and most importantly, a man of God to oversee the ever-growing amount of material coming from our Jeffersonville office.

In the next update on the Philippines, we will meet Brother Jeremiah Villagracia. Brother Jeremiah shares his testimony of how he came from extreme poverty to be the manager of the Voice Of God Recordings office in Manila. He tells the story of himself as a young boy waking in the dim, early-morning light to see his mother on her knees crying out to the Lord in prayer. Brother Jeremiah shares his mother’s dream of a dark cloud and then a voice commanding her to be baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will read his testimony of being awaken by the Holy Spirit at 3:30AM and being held in prayer for the next two hours unable to speak.

The Lord is doing a great work among the Bride of Christ in the Philippines. Over the next few weeks, we will explore more of the work of the Lord in that country.

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