I just had an interesting chat today with Pastor Fred Panis, a young (late 20s) Bible Baptist mission (church-planting) pastor. He has been working for two years now at Bogo town (two hours north of Cebu City), preaching the gospel and establishing a church there. He is married, with four kids.
Pastor Fred asked me where my church holds Sunday meetings. I smugly answered him that we’re meeting at a hotel in Cebu City, paying about P10,000.00 ($ 230) monthly, which is quite expensive already for most churches in the Philippines.
He then showed me a picture pasted at the back of his Bible. It was a picture of his church meeting in a tent, literally. The tent was placed on flat, hard soil that could get muddy when there’s rain. Inside the tent were plastic chairs and a small pulpit in front and center. He said it’s a tent for now, because funds are just enough for a tent. In the background is a little house, more like a shack. “That’s where we live,” he said.
I asked him how much monthly support his mother church gives him. Pastor Fred replied that the money is of no consequence. I got the impression that it was relatively small for his family of six. Then he said, “It’s not about the money. What matters is the heart. I’m targeting the hearts of people, hearts that will worship the Lord even in a tent.”
“Lord, forgive us for doing ministry according to our materialistic measurements. While we look at the clothes and cars of people, admire the aircon churches, and envy the cars and big rented houses of white missionaries, You look at the heart.
Lord, transform our eyes so that we will only look at the hearts of people and see the transformation of their hearts with the power of the Gospel.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen!”