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Led by The Spirit: The Early Years in the Philippines

This is an excerpt from Dave Johnson, Led By The Spirit: The History of the American Assemblies of God Missionaries in the Philippines (Pasig City, Philippines: ICI Ministries, 2009)

Caudle recognized that there was a great opportunity for work among the student population. He noted that students came from all over the islands to study in Manila for about ten months of the year. His vision reveals a solid missiology in his communication with the home front:

Can you imagine what a hundred or more students filled with the Holy Ghost would do, during vacation when they go to their home provinces? Can you think how God would bless in these little nipa houses, humble though they be, yet within them human souls, that must be told the precious truth, ere the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ?5

While he recognized the need and tried to raise funds for a mission hall to reach out to students, it is not known to what extent he succeeded.

What is known about the Caudles’ ministry is that they handed out tracts and sold copies of the Pentecostal Evangel in door-to-door evangelism. After about a year of tract distribution and backyard meetings, they had about fifty-five in Sunday School in what appears to have been a church planting effort.6 In less than two years, however, Cordelia’s health broke as a result of Manila’s harsh tropical climate, and they were forced to return permanently to the United States, the ultimate fruit of their work known only to God. Eleven years would pass before the arrival of another missionary, but God was at work in the meantime.

 

Filipino Pioneers

While the story of the history and development of the Philippine General Council of the Assemblies of God (PGCAG) cannot be told here in any great detail, it must be noted that the permanent work of the Assemblies of God in the Philippines actually began with Filipinos, not missionaries. As such, it is appropriate to briefly outline their story, with the hope that the entire story will someday be written. In the 1920s and 1930s, several Filipino men who had gone to the United States to seek a better life were saved, baptized in the Holy Spirit, trained in U.S. Assemblies of God Bible schools, and felt the call of God to return to their homeland.

The first to return was Cris Garsulao, who returned to the province of Antique on Panay Island in the Visayas region in the central part of the Philippines in 1928, the same year that the Caudles were forced to return home. It is not known if he was acquainted with the Caudles. Garsulao began by sharing Christ with the members of his extended family, and many were saved as a result. He planted a church in his hometown, Sibalom, the first Assemblies of God church in the country. A firebrand for Christ, Garsulao ministered wholeheartedly for the Lord. In 1929, he opened a Bible training school, no doubt patterned after Glad Tidings Bible Institute (GTBI) in San Francisco (now Bethany University in Santa Cruz, California) where he had studied, as he saw the need to train workers. Nine enrolled and studied for two years with emphasis also given to practical ministry. That four of them were still in Christian work more than thirty years later bears testimony to the faithfulness of his labors and the legitimacy of his strategy of training workers.7 He became sick, however, and died unexpectedly in 1935, just seven years after beginning his work.

Pedro Collado was saved in San Francisco in 1927. After attending GTBI, he began his ministry in the United States, apparently among Filipinos. It wasn’t long, however, before he too felt the call to return home. First, he went to his family in Bagumbayan, Nueva Ecija, and many of them came to know Christ. After three months, he took over the work that Garsulao had begun. Sometime later, he went with his family to Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines, located in the southern part of the country, and pioneered the Assemblies of God work on that island.

After graduating from GTBI, Eugenio Suede also returned home to Iloilo province in southeastern Panay and pioneered a church there. Later he would also pioneer another church in Dueñas, Iloilo.

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Category: Church History, Fall 2019

About the Author: Dave Johnson, M.Div., D.Miss. (Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines), is an Assemblies of God missionary to the Philippines. Dave and his wife Debbie have been involved in evangelism, church planting, and Bible school and mission leadership. Dave is the Managing Editor of Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, the director of APTS Press in Baguio City, Philippines and coordinator for the Asian Pentecostal Theological Seminary's Master of Theology Program. http://apts.academia.edu/DaveJohnson Facebook Twitter

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