by Arlene Zerna Reyes

In 2020, amid the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP) began a mission at Tiaong, in the primarily agricultural area of Quezon Province, south-east of Manila.

LCP had plans to begin its Biblical Vocational Lay Institute (BVLI) there, but a mission congregation arose first after Rev Antonio del Rio Reyes, the president of the church, and I were locked down and found people in need living nearby. After a year of faithful teaching, this mission is bearing fruit.

One of those whose lives have been changed by this mission is Jerwin Casayuran. Jerwin is 20 years old and had previously been a member of other churches, including the non-trinitarian Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), a local cult with an estimated 6 million members across the Philippines.

In May 2021, this young man was confirmed by Rev Reyes, who was serving as pastor to the mission congregation. Jerwin was one of the first students enrolled in the BVLI and was hoping to become a lay missionary.

After completing Grade 9, he decided to continue studying at the BVLI. During his biblical studies, he has learnt the truth about who Jesus is and what he has done and is still doing for our salvation.

According to Jerwin, the INC did not allow members to read the Bible, which is why he is so thankful to now have full access to God’s word – a ‘lamp unto his feet and a light to his path’ (Psalm 119:105).

‘I used to believe that Jesus Christ is only a man and not God’, Jerwin says. ‘But now, because of the word of God, particularly the gospel, the Holy Spirit opened my heart and mind that I may know and truly believe that Jesus is true God and true man and my only Saviour.’

He has also learnt that doing good works or obedience to the law does not save us. Instead, saving faith produces good works in a Christian’s life.

One of seven siblings, Jerwin is very active in inviting his family, friends and neighbours to attend our worship services and Bible studies. He also continues with his vocational course in driving and hopes to get a driver’s licence. He leads morning devotions at BVLI and is still praying for guidance for a career path – sometimes he considers becoming a pastor. When he is asked where he will go when he dies, he says he is sure he will go to heaven because of his saving faith in Christ who gave his life on the cross and rose from the grave for him.

Through the experience of this mission, we are reminded that God’s mission is not only about reaching those who do not believe, but also bringing the true gospel to those who have false beliefs.

Arlene Zerna Reyes is a member of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines and the wife of President Rev Antonio del Rio Reyes.

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