The coronavirus pandemic shut down churches in the Philippines. Still, it sparked the beginning of a Bible study among Philippine senators and an outreach online reaching millions of people.
GO 2020 Spokesman and Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao to start a bible study with six senators. The pandemic caused government leaders to seek out Christian leaders for advice and prayer with an unprecedented call for prayer from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. "The president of the Philippines called for a national week of prayer for the Philippines," said Bishop Noel Pantoja, national director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches. "Coupled with all this, our relief operations, Philippine Relief and Development services reached 30,000 homes with the Gospel through tracts and bibles distributed through the Philippine Bible Society. There is a massive sowing seed of the Gospel."
Bishop Pantoja said Pacquiao, Chairman of the Board of the National Bible Day Foundation, invited five or six senators to attend his Bible study group. "He said, 'But my fellow senators are asking questions about God, and what God is telling us during this crisis.' So we converted this bible study into an evangelistic event and invited senators," said Pantoja. One of the most influential senators, Christopher Bon Go, who served as special assistant to President Duterte, heard the Gospel and professed to receive Christ during one of those meetings.
"We are seeing thousands upon thousands of new house churches that are being started and 120,000 established local churches," said Pantoja. Global Outreach Day leaders had set a goal of mobilizing five million believers to share the Gospel with five people between January and May. "We had 40 days of prayer and fasting in March and April, then covid19 happened," he said. "Churches were shut down, and we were shocked, wondering what would happen to our campaign."
The pandemic increased reach with a dramatic surge in online evangelism. "God opened new doors for evangelism through online worship services," said Pantoja. "Our goal is just 120,000, but right now, we are seeing more than 1 million homes in the Philippines, which is a conservative estimate. Imagine one million homes worshipping together. Doing family devotions, families with online services, prayer meetings, doing evangelism through online and text messages."
Plans are underway for a massive baptism week from October 20 – 25, 2020, at baptismal pools and swimming pools at churches, prisons, schools, hotels, resorts, and more. "By God's grace, we're still pursuing this with plans to baptize 500,000 new believers," he said.