Harvest Season?

Filipinos are turning to God, but rapid church growth strains relationships among Christians.
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David Sumrall, a third generation pastor at the Cathedral of Praise in Manila, says the Philippines is experiencing a historic spiritual revival. "It's harvest time," Sumrall says. "Each night we take our service to different parts of Manila, and hundreds are getting saved. Come back in a year's time and you will see our new sanctuary with 8,000 seats full."

But even as Christian leaders embrace optimism for the church's future, they face a complex set of problems and challenges, from societal poverty to interchurch rivalry, all of which threaten to derail revival within one of Asia's most important enclaves of Christianity.

In spite of the difficulties, 25-year missionary Ken Keihlbauch says, "The church is growing through the day-to-day faithfulness of countless local believers. Over the years I've seen a tremendous excitement in the evangelical church as people come to Christ."

The Philippines, an archipelago of 7,000 islands, has 72 million people in a unique mixture of Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and North American cultures. During three hundred years of Spanish rule, not only was the population Christianized, but the economic system was Westernized, creating an elite class of wealthy landowners and an underclass of tenant farmers.

As Christian faith and practice developed in later generations, many churches became a potpourri of myth, folklore, and Roman Catholicism that prevails even today.

SALT AND LIGHT? The Christian gospel has more deeply penetrated the Philippines than any other Asian nation. Neighboring countries are mostly Buddhist, Communist, or Muslim.

Although the Roman Catholic church has been well established for centuries, the growth of the Catholic church is very close to the 2.3 percent annual growth rate of ...

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