The word “replant” means to transfer a tree or plant to a larger site or pot. Of late, when discussing church planting, a new interpretation has emerged—replant!
Overseer Anthony Velasco recently toured the Mindanao Region visiting and encouraging churches in the southern part of the Philippines. Accompanying him on the trip was Edward Navarro, a servant leader of the Church of God through outreach ministry. Their last stop was in Bit-os (one of the barangay, or villages, in Butuan). It is a humble place with close-knit people who have been worshiping together for 33 years. Butuan is the oldest city in the Philippines.
Pastor Anthony felt the unction of the Spirit of the Lord to guide the Bit-os people with leadership from COG-Dasmarinas. He asked Navarro to consider accepting the task. Hesitant at first, but after much prayer, Navarro accepted the challenge to do God’s work in Butuan.
Preparing to begin the undertaking, Pastor Anthony and Navarro called the venture “replanting the COG Bit-os.” Before long, Navarro was traveling to Bit-os every other week, Friday to Monday, to direct the people in their transition from Bit-os to Butuan City. Appointed as itinerant city pastor, Navarro set a timetable for establishing the church in Butuan and the campaign became known as Butuan City for Jesus.
Naturally, the congregation at Bit-os was slow to accept this new direction, but soon declared, “If the Lord said we go to the city, then we go to the city.” Their established culture they had practiced for three decades was literally turned around.
God paved the way and made things possible. The congregation settled at Hotel Oazis, which was supposed to be expensive, but the owner became generous to the church. COG Butuan held its first worship service in October. Ninety attendees came, double the number of their usual attendance, and more importantly, over 20 people were born again on that initial day!
Acknowledging the graciousness of the Lord, the church held a “Thanksgiving Celebration” and 170 people flocked to the service as members invited friends and acquaintances. The leaders never thought this number to be possible. The church now has two services to maximize their allowable time at the hotel, with 40 to 50 young adults regularly attending. With each fellowship, more and more young people are born again, increasing the size of the congregation and giving it a future.
Twelve people from COG Dasmarinas traveled to Butuan to provide technical training and spiritual empowerment for its leaders and members. They are entrusting everything into the hands of the Lord as they move forward in making COG Butuan self-sufficient and ready for the people of Butuan City.
The efforts of the COG Dasmarinas are to continue replanting churches from the rural to the urban area, all enhancing the Send the Light to the Cities project.