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Reflections on New Directions, by Dave Johnson

Baguio City, Philippines, November 5, 2013.

Two events happened last week that leave me wondering if, at long last, some demonic strongholds over the Philippines are being broken.

For the last twenty or twenty five years or so, evangelicals in the Philippines have been giving increased attention to ministry to Muslims. However, I believe that history may someday record that recent developments may have opened the floodgates to a renewed and focused emphasis on these unreached peoples.

Last week, Dr. Melba Maggay and her team at the Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture (ISACC) in Manila convened a conference on contextualization (making the gospel understandable within various cultures) in Asia and focused on ministry to Muslims. Some time ago, Dr. Maggay opined in an email that God has been leading her ministry more in the direction of Muslims. Since Dr. Maggay is one of the most well known and respected evangelical leaders in the Philippines, this move toward Muslims is significant. I personally believe that she will undoubtedly lead others on the same journey.

Conference speakers included Dr. Andrew Walls, who spoke by videotape as health issues prevented him from attending and Dr. Miriam Adeney, an internationally known writer and Christian anthropologist, as well as others. Dr. Walls gave us an overview of the history, development and expansion of Islam since its founding in 622 AD. While limited by time restraints, his review was impressive in scope and calls for much reflection on how “Christians” have treated and mostly ignored Muslims throughout the centuries. Dr. Adeney spoke to a number of issues, including some touching stories of some of the eight million Filipinos working abroad whom God is using in some very difficult places.

Prof. Amina Rasul-Bernardo and Attorney Johaira Wahab, both Muslim women from the Magindinao tribe in Mindanao (Southern Philippines) who are involved in the efforts to resolve the “Christian”-Muslim conflict that has raged there for a number of decades, updated us on their perspective on the ongoing efforts to bring peace to the troubled parts of the region. Both women were candid that Muslims as well as “Christians” have contributed to the problem. Rev. Dann Pantoja, a Filipino evangelical who is the founder and director of Peacebuilders, a Mennonite consulting team dedicated to the peace process (see, shared his story about engaging in this work and gave a Christian perspective on the peace process dialogue, particularly noting the unresolved tensions that remain.

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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. Facebook Twitter

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