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Over 50 Years of Sharing Good News

by Alex Wilson

Missionary in Manila from 1963-1983

Over 50 Years of Sharing Good News In Manila, the Philippines, and Beyond

May God Most High be praised for the 54 years that He has used and sustained Central Bible Institute/Seminary in Manila. “Great things He has done!”

God planted the vision for such a school in the heart and mind of mission-aries Dennis Allen and Victor Broaddus. In the mid-1950s there were already several evangelical Bible institutes in the Manila area. But most of them, if not all, were on the outskirts of the city. There were two reasons why brothers Allen and Broaddus believed this Bible institute should be in central Manila. There it would be within easy reach of the teeming “university belt” with its hundreds of thou-sands of students from all parts of the Philippines. The school also would straddle both the Chinese and Filipino districts downtown. That was important, for brother Broaddus had already planted both a Cantonese and a Filipino church in the Santa Cruz area.

This was surely a God-given dream. But it had drawbacks too. Being down-town, by and large CBI’s neighborhood was dirty, extremely noisy, and often the air was thick with bus exhaust. The streets frequently were flooded during rainy season, and there was no grassy campus – only an old building which they rented! On the other hand, it was near major bus and “jeepney” routes. And it was near to multitudes of people, especially students.

The dream also was to be non-denominational in emphasis and inter-denominational in fellowship. An old motto summarized this viewpoint: “We are not the only Christians, but we want to be Christians only.” So they tried to build bridges, not walls. This policy attracted students from different religious back-grounds and affiliations to study the Bible together. Anyone who wanted to know more about Christ was welcome (and still is).

For over 30 years, various missionaries from the U.S. went, served and returned home: the Broadduses, Allens, plus the Harold Prestons, Alex Wilsons and Billy Lewters. More important, through their efforts God raised up strong Filipino leaders. A number of them served as teachers, dorm-parents and later on as administrators in CBI. Others also became evangelists, pastors and leaders in the various congregations that were planted through the decades. Here are some of those faithful leaders from the years that U.S. missionaries were still active there: Arsenio Eniego, Rodolfo Mapile, Roberto Abella, Virgilio Torrefiel, Herman Moldez, David Moldez and of course others too. And this is of outstanding importance: Since 1983, when the last American missionaries returned to the U.S., CBI has been entirely under the leadership of Filipinos, and has done very well — by the grace of the Lord.

From 1955-1967 CBI was housed in rather cramped rented quarters. Attend-ance was not large, though it did rise from 9 the first year to about 40. Once I taught a class on the Major Prophets. Only one student enrolled, but she needed the subject in order to graduate that year. Whenever I asked a question in class, she knew who would have to answer it! But when bigger, better facilities were bought in 1967, enrollment grew to 105 in 1975, 150 in 1980 and 177 in 1983. In my last semester at CBI, three different subjects I taught each had 65-75 students enrolled. Grading papers almost killed me that semester! [This semester, fall 2010, the enrollment is about 90.]

As years passed by, CBI’s “new” facilities became terribly worn out. After a long time and many prayers, a campaign led by Francisco and Polly Kwong led to a sturdy new building in 2001.

Goal and Strategies

CBI’s goal was, and is, simple: Lovingly and faithfully Teach God’s Word, the Bible. But that was the means of carrying out a larger, 3-point strategy: (1) To Evangelize the Unsaved. Through the years a number of CBI students became disciples of the Lord Jesus. Maybe you wonder why anyone would even enroll in a Bible institute if they were not already converted? Some simply had a hunger to know the Bible in addition to their university subjects. Others enrolled in order to live in our dormitories, which were inexpensive and well located. Here’s just one example of a “chain” of conversions that occurred mostly among our dorm-residents: Rudy Mapile’s sister, Lydia, enrolled and later received Christ. She then led her classmate in university, Erlinda Tagarino, to CBI, where she was converted. Erlinda later brought Mercy de la Cruz (now Moldez) to CBI, and she too came to Christ. As time went on, two brothers of Lydia, one brother of Erlinda, and the parents and brother of Mercy all professed conversion.

(2) Our second and perhaps main goal was to Train Lay-people to be disciples and witnesses for Christ in their homes, work-places, and communities–and also to be active workers in their congregations. In those days lots of Bible schools mainly sought to turn out preachers. We felt it was important to train others too. So we thank God for alumni who live for Him while working in so-called secular fields — as teachers, housewives, social workers, and in business, the merchant marines, real estate, various government bureaus, etc. They are not second-class citizens in His kingdom.

(3) To Equip those whom God called to be evangelists, church-planters, pastor-teachers and/or cross-cultural missionaries. A number of such leaders have been raised up and trained to serve among congregations of Church of Christ Worldwide. (The 5th paragraph of this article listed several of them.) But CBI also provided help to the wider evangelical community. Through the years a number of CBI alumni have become workers in The Bible League (including a longtime national director), Christian Growth Ministries, Child Evangelism Fellowship (including a longtime national director), Far East Broadcasting Co., Grace Christian Schools, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (including a longtime national director), New Tribes Mission of the Philippines (including a longtime national director), Philippine Missionary Institute, a longtime editor of Evangelical Thrust — the official magazine of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches – and of course leaders and faculty of CBI itself (including a longtime president). Glory to God for answering prayers for workers!

CBI (now Central Bible Seminary) has never had a large income nor a beautiful campus, and in its early decades it had a very small faculty. Yet from its location in central Manila, God through His Word has worked and produced good fruit. To HIM be the glory, and by His Spirit may He keep on working more and more.

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Update in October 2010

Due to the world-wide economic recession, CBS has been facing quite severe financial difficulties this year. The Philippines government requires all businesses to pay their employees a “13-month salary” every year. So in December the employers must pay their workers twice as much as in other months. This deadline is often hard to meet, and all the more in this year of tight budgets. If the Lord leads any churches, classes or individuals to help relieve that situation, you may send funds to Church of Christ World-Wide, P.O. Box 2635, Lexington KY 40555. Designate the funds “for Central Bible Seminary, Manila.” They will forward your donation and also send you a receipt that will allow you to receive tax-credit.




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John 10:10