by Cindy Lyons
In 1957, God led my parents, Bob and Helen Hughes, to Ceby City. They started the Bible Baptist Church with just a handful of people. Daddy dreamed of not only reaching Cebu, but also the rest of the Philippines. He would go up the hills overlooking the surrounding islands and pray for a harvest of souls. He faced many obstacles with a strong belief that, with God, nothing is impossible!
Dad and Mom opened their home every week for young people to come over. These people became strong leaders in the ministry. Early on, Dr. Armie Jesalva and his wife, Betty, joined the team. My father’s passion for training leaders led him to start the Bible college. This was the beginning of a strong church-planting movement that continues today. We saw God change lives and do amazing things as people came to know Him.
In 1972, the church built a large facility and on opening day they had 5,000 in attendance. At this point, Daddy said, “We must not allow the walls of the building to limit the size of the church.” This began a new strategy to take the church to the people by holding extension services in neighborhoods all around the city. Over 20 of those extensions have now become self-sustaining churches.
In 1976, at the age of 44, my dad went to be with the Lord, but his dream never died. God has continued to bless Bible Baptist Church through Armie Jesalva’s leadership. They have planted over 400 churches and have missionaries serving all over the world. Several years ago, Dr. Jesalva led an evangelistic initiative to reach the Philippines for Christ. Saturation teams have been sent throughout the islands, sharing the Gospel one on one. To date, over six million people have accepted Christ as a result of this initiative. Evangelism and church planting continues to be the strong focus.
The Jesalva’s son, Kent, pastors a church in Metro Cebu and also serves on the leadership team at Bible Baptist Church. This year, his daughter, Arli, and her husband, Curt Motsinger, are returning as missionaries to join the leadership team as they help expand this church planting movement.
As over 6,000 people gathered on the campus of Bible Baptist Church on March 26 to celebrate the church’s 6oth anniversary, we rejoiced to see God’s faithfulness. Extension services throughout the city brought the total combined attendance to over 17,000. Several hundred responded to accept Christ and 45 were baptized.
At just the right time, God raised up Dr. Armie Jesalva, an amazing leader who shares the same heart and passion for souls I saw in my father. God continues to prove that with Him, nothing is impossible. When I think about the many pastors and leaders who are a part of this movement, I am encouraged to know the story is not over … and the next generation will continue what was started 60 years ago.