Philippines 2014: Another Opportunity

IMG_0190Some of my longer-term blog readers may remember that I traveled to the Philippines in 2012 to teach worship and the arts at a Bible training center associated with the the North American Baptist Conference (NAB). Specifically, I made a personal long-term commitment to provide teaching and support to the Bicol Center for Christian Leadership (BCCL), which provides theological, Biblical and pastoral training for pastors, evangelists and church planters in the least-churched, non-Muslim region of the Philippines. My personal commitment to them extends every other year, so I am excited that I get to go back again during the first half of June to minister with my BCCL friends in Bicol.

Here is what Director Gregg Evans has to say about it:

“The students are a mix of full-time Christian workers, active church members and college students from a dozen different churches, most getting their first systematic instruction in theology and Biblical studies.   With a growing reputation for solid Bible teaching, the Center is quickly becoming the hub of Evangelical Christianity in Albay Province, and what it is doing in Albay is spreading to other provinces.  BCCL has the potential to become the single most influential Christian institution in the region in the years ahead, impacting hundreds, and eventually thousands, of pastors, evangelists, church planters and rank-and-file members.”

IMG_0285During my last trip, I discovered that the Filipinos of the Albay Province are passionate and talented, but are under-resourced and generally need training. Also, worship is one of the ways in which we can bring together the many different churches in the area in a spirit of mutuality and cooperation. It is my hope to continue the work of providing theologically-based teaching and musical training to the dozens of churches in that area.  Specifically, they have asked me to do the following this summer:

• Provide a series of music/worship workshops with different church worship teams. This will include vocal and musical training, as well as worship leader training and teaching on worship and the arts. We may also do a weekend worship workshop as well.

• Lead worship and/or speak at various churches during their Sunday services, as requested.

• Provide more focused songwriter training for those interested in writing original songs.

• In addition, I hope to bring a “care package” of strings, drumsticks, tuners, cords, mics, etc. to help the different under-resourced churches there, depending on the amount of support raised.

• All this will culminate in an Inter-Church Worship Concert that I will lead and speak at, scheduled for June 12, Philippine Independence Day, which is a national holiday.

IMG_3505From a personal standpoint, I feel uniquely qualified to answer this calling. While I am fully American (born and raised in California), I am a full-blooded Filipino, and the people there seem to relate to me at some deep and unspoken level. While I am a working musician, songwriter, and studio artist, I am also a theologically-trained worship pastor and book author. Although I have been affiliated with NAB for decades (i.e., I’m a Baptist), I am very comfortable in many faith traditions, from my background in Catholicism to charismatic to traditional to emergent. Finally, my professional background as a former aerospace engineer gives me a bit of a mythical credibility with the many university students that hang out and take classes at BCCL. (I suspect that I may be a walking, talking enigma for some of the Filipinos there!)

My home fellowship,  Oak Hills Church, is firmly behind this trip and is the sending organization. But I will need to raise financial and prayer support, including air fare and other travel, meals, and musical instrument resources. If you’re interested in helping me, please contact me at manuel@manuelluz.com. Thanks!

[Top Photo: Leading an all-day Worship Workshop with about a dozen churches in 2012. Middle Photo: BCCL sits in the shadow of the Mayon Volcano, an overwhelmingly beautiful sight. Bottom Photo: Teaching a class on Worship and the Arts at BCCL.]

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