Baptist and Reflector
SOMERVILLE — A team of nine missions volunteers serving on the Cross Partners Ministry team recently returned from two weeks in the Republic of the Philippines where they served with about 40 churches in three different Baptist associations.
The team participated in more than 100 evangelistic crusades with Filipino Baptists on Luzon Island and saw 8,663 professions of faith and more than 400 other decisions for Jesus Christ.
The team was led by Charles Pratt, director of missions for Fayette Baptist Association, based in Somerville. Pratt is president and founder of Cross Partners Ministry, Inc.
The Philippines is a nation of 7,100 islands with a land mass equivalent to the state of Arizona. The population of the Philippines is estimated to be more than 105 million people, who are predominately Roman Catholic. Partnership missions work was developed there in 1989 by the Tennessee Baptist Convention and has been continued through the efforts of CPM.
Among the places the team served in Manila was “Smoky Mountain,” the site of the world’s largest garbage dump which is comprised of six mountains of garbage and is home to more than a half million people. Garbage from the entire city of Manila, encompassing 16 million people, is taken to this site. Volunteers worked with churches who are trying to minister to the people who survive in the massive dump.
Latonya Chilcutt of Woodland Baptist Church in Brownsville noted her missions experience, which included the dump, was the best of four trips that she has made to the nation. “Rather than being down in the dumps, this became the most uplifting experience of missions since the people were so open and loving towards us. I have grown so much spiritually by sharing my faith and the gospel with so many people,” she said.
Pastor Randy Crews from Springhill Baptist Church in Dyersburg has made more than 20 trips to the Philippines. “It was so special to see old friends and to make new ones as thousands came to the knowledge of Jesus. What keeps me returning are these wonderful people that are so open to the gospel.”
Pastor Loren Stephens, a veteran volunteer from Southside Baptist Church in Dyersburg, observed that the “hunger of the Filipino people for hearing about Jesus is overwhelming to me. It was a great blessing to get up at 4 a.m. and see so many people attend a time of prayer and Bible study at dawn.
“There are more and more people that are receptive to hearing the gospel that I get to witness to each trip that keeps me returning. I pray that I can keep returning until our Lord Jesus returns,” Stephens said.
The volunteers raised their own support, as well as money for Bibles. The team gave away more than 10,000 Bibles and 13,000 gospel tracts. They shared their faith openly in public high schools, colleges, public town squares, prisons, street crusades, and were able to baptize hundreds of Filipinos awaiting baptism in two different places, including the South China Sea before they returned home.
The volunteers assisted the Filipino pastors in the mass baptism of candidates in the ocean and conducted the other baptism near the garbage dump for many candidates that had been waiting for that special day.
Other team members included Randy Boals, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church, Lavina; Willie Pounds, pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church, Kenton; Donald Williams, member of Beech Grove Baptist Church, Halls; Mike Hopper, mission pastor of the Hope of Glory Church, which is sponsored by Zion Baptist Church in Brownsville; and John Hayes, pastor, Shaw’s Chapel Baptist Church, Brownsville.