My service to The Foursquare Church spanned many years and callings. But the first 15 years my late wife, Sally, and I spent as missionaries to the Philippines remain a highlight.
The lessons we learned can be applied in a modern context. For example, I believe one reason we enjoyed such a fruitful ministry from 1958-1972 was because we worked hard to relate to the Filipino people, embracing their lifestyle and being careful to not act superior to them.
After arriving, we were placed in charge of the Foursquare Bible institute in Manila, which soon became a college. I also created the office of district supervisor for Luzon, the nation’s largest island. Calvary Foursquare, the Manila Christian day school and the Bible school shared the same property. All grew rapidly until we had no more room to expand. In 1968, we purchased property in nearby Quezon City, and built new facilities for another church, the Bible school and national church offices.
This was all part of a team effort. Foursquare had a wonderful team of five missionary couples spread across the islands. We worked and prayed together, sharing the same vision and strategies. This cooperation produced such dramatic growth in the 1960s that it caught the attention of author Jim Montgomery.
After attending a church growth institute in Eugene, Ore., Jim decided to study Foursquare churches. In his book, New Testament Fire in the Philippines, Jim described how his investigation pulled aside a veil and allowed him to see the natural results of the infilling power of the Holy Spirit.
“They had developed an effective missionary strategy not because they had studied church growth but because they … followed the leading of the Holy Spirit,” Jim wrote. “Since they were scattered over five areas of the Philippines and were growing rapidly in these areas, they were forced to depend on local leadership, training others into doing the work.”
To summarize what happened, we didn’t try to “equip the saints” on our own. We equipped the saints and taught them how to equip more saints. Young leaders went out, filled with the Holy Spirit and a passion to obey the call of Christ to go into all the world. With no modern communication tools, the gospel went forth from person to person. Believers led individuals to Christ and then families, which led to church starts. Sometimes whole villages were saved. There were constant, miraculous healings and demonic deliverances, and some were even raised from the dead.
A key to our service came from the close relationships we developed—one of the same purposes and rewards in missions now. We treated the Filipinos as family and remain in touch with some to this day. In the early years, at least 10 Bible school students lived with us or in a small house in the backyard. Our garage became the student kitchen and dining hall. Along with our three children, we played sports together in the backyard. Sally and I taught these young Filipinos many practical life skills and paid them for their work.
When traveling, we stayed in simple Filipino homes and ate whatever they set before us. I took countless trips into the interior jungles and other primitive conditions, always careful to not complain but to appreciate this unique country. This kind of loving outlook should characterize any outreach, near or far.
Young leaders went out, filled with the Holy Spirit and a passion to obey the call of Christ to go into all the world. With no modern communication tools, the gospel went forth from person to person. Believers led individuals to Christ and then families, which led to church starts.
Missions begins on our doorstep. We don’t have to go only overseas; people are flocking from other countries to the U.S. We are living in a huge harvest field, and it is ripe. Our universities are full of lonely young people from around the world who are longing for friendships with Americans. We have neighbors from other countries, seeking welcome and acceptance.
If there’s one thing a bygone era can teach us, it’s the value of preparation, including studying the Bible and memorizing Scripture. Prove yourself faithful in small things at home before you leave for other tasks. Make sure your character and personal life are under the control of the Holy Spirit. A life of holiness is essential, whether that is purity as a single or a strong marriage, if part of a couple.
Don’t go to any mission field, down the street or across the world, unless you are already seeing spiritual fruitfulness at home. Always have the scriptural mindset of making disciples who will disciple others.
In addition, you need strong accountability partners and a humble submission to elders, because a prideful spirit will bring downfall. Be prepared for huge spiritual battles, too, by relying on the power of the Spirit. If you go in your own strength, you will be a sitting duck for the enemy.
Remember, there is always a need for missionaries. After World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur asked Americans to “send 10,000 missionaries now.”
Unfortunately, only a relative handful responded. Let’s not make the same mistake today.
Read more here. Don McGregor shares the miraculous journey of serving as a missionary in the Philippines.