Lea’s Salvation Leads to a New Church Plant - Lea’s Story, Part 3
Lea had moved three to four hours away from her family and home to Lipa City of the Philippines for work. In 2016, she was befriended by a co-worker, Mitch, who invited her to a study of The Story of Hope that Mitch and Steve Deal, the missionary who started the local church, were teaching during the Sunday School hour.
Though a Roman Catholic, Lea had never studied the Bible. Later that year her work contract was not renewed, and she had to move back home to Tayabas in the Quezan province of the Philippines, but not before understanding God’s plan for salvation and making a faith response to accept Jesus as Savior.
Lea was anxious to share her faith with family and friends. Though a new believer, she began a weekly children’s meeting teaching them the stories she had learned from The Story of Hope. The church in Lipa City sent a mission’s team to help introduce The Story of Hope to others and the weekly study grew to include teens and adults. One of the first to put his faith in Jesus for salvation was Lea’s own husband Arnel, who would play the guitar for her during her children’s meetings.
Lea and Arnel began to grow together. Along with Arnel’s friend Jeffery, who also became a believer, they made the trip back to Lipa City to be baptized and discipled. They attended training for Good Soil Evangelism & Discipleship and Storytelling. For two years Lea faithfully taught the Bible’s big story in her home. The group grew to about 40 people and they saw others understand God’s plan for redemption and trust in Christ as their Savior.
During this time, Lea looked for a local church near her to be a part of but was unsuccessful and disappointed. She told Mitch and Steve that none of them taught the Bible the way she had learned from them. Steve believed the Lord was leading his church in Lipa City to plant a new church in Tayabas out of Lea and Arnel’s home. A team of leaders from the church, led by associate pastor Jeselou, began making the trip every Sunday afternoon to conduct Bible studies. With their own finances, Lea and Arnel began to extend the tin roof from their bamboo house and concrete the floor to provide a meeting space for the growing group.
On November 18, 2018, the new church held its first service with over 60 attending. The group from Lipa City continues to sacrificially make the weekly trip to the Quezon province to hold services for this new congregation. They are praying that God will soon raise up a young pastor to continue the work. Storytelling remains an integral part of each service, as Lea and others continue to tell several Bible stories each week.
The children continue to learn the stories in Sunday School and are encouraged to retell them to their family and friends. Lea, Arnel and others seek to initiate conversations with others of their town to form redemptive relationships as Mitch did with Lea. What a beautiful way to see the church in this manner reproduce and grow.