Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The Light of Asia

MANILA The Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia. But is that just a part of this nations history or part of a divine calling? Many Christian leaders say the Philippines is strategically located to take the light of the gospel to the populous Muslim and communist regions of Asia.

"I believe that the mantle of missions which was on America at the turn of the century, which was the result of the Great Awakening during the 19th century, is now upon the Philippines," said historian Dr. Sonia Zaide.

In her book, The Filipinos as Apostles for the Last Days, Dr. Zaide says the Philippines has been described as the "light of Asia," the "key to the 10/40 window" which makes up the least evangelized group of countries in the world.

She says missionaries have described visions of the Philippines as a "flaming sword" of the Holy Spirit touching nearby Asian countries, or as an erupting volcano spewing forth, not lava but men and women armed with Bibles going to the closed countries of Asia and the Middle East.

Christian leaders here in the Philippines say it is not a coincidence that they are the only Christian nation in Asia. In fact, many believe it is their divine calling, that they, not westerners, are the ones to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the closed countries of Asia.

Ray Corpus, head of the Philippines Missions Alliance, believes the Philippines must shine the light of Christ because, "Theres so much darkness in Asia."

The Philippines Missions Alliance oversees more than 100 missions agencies, and Corpus believes God is preparing to use the Philippines as a missionary launching pad to the rest of Asia.

Corpus believes the flexibility of Filipinos will enable them to spread the Gospel under many different conditions. "I believe the Philippines can play a major role because we are multi-lingual, we can sleep on the floor, sleep on the couch, we can stay in 5-star hotels," he said.

"I believe God is going to manifest His tremendous power through this nation, our economy is going to turn around because how else can God finance His own mission work in the Philippines if we're not going to be blessed," Corpus continued. "We're not going to ask money from America or other countries, God is going to bless us here so we can become a blessing."

Zaide feels that the seeds of the Gospel that America planted in the Philippines will now bear fruit throughout neighboring lands. "I believe the coming of the Americans here was a part of the Great Awakening and we have put it in our books. I believe that when the Americans started the distribution of the Bibles in the Philippines it was not an accident," she said.

Dr. Zaide calls it "remarkable" how God has used the Philippines unique cultural heritage to prepare them to be "apostles for the last days." She cites the Spaniards who brought Catholicism to the mostly animist nation in the 15th century, and Americans who brought education in the last century.

"The freedom of religion was brought by the Americans here, they were the first to distribute the Bibles," she said. "And as a result of that, many Filipinos came to the Lord, including the family of the former President Fidel Ramos who was our first Protestant president, and they introduced free and popular education for all Filipinos for which we are still eternally grateful."

So Corpus offers this challenge to believers, not just in the Philippines but worldwide: "God has never given the church such a tremendous time to expand our borders more than ever, and this is the time. And I believe, as the United States stages a war against terrorism, we are also staging a war against the heavenlies. And God's going to open doors of opportunities for Christians, and it takes believers who are serious to say, Yes Lord, I'm gonna be a witness! Yes Lord, I'm gonna be a light of the world."

Dr. Zaide says even the name "Philippines" is prophetic. The Philippines was named in honor of Crown Prince Philip of Asturia, who later became the greatest missionary king of Spain in the 16th century.

There are nearly 3,000 Filipino missionaries today, of which about 900 are serving in other countries. But the Philippine Missions Association says more are needed to reach the closed countries of Asia. They are hoping for 5,000 new missionaries by the year 2020.

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