My wife and I were invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Crawley Bethesda Mission Center. It will be on the grounds of Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary. The plan is for the upper story to be focused on training for cross-cultural missions, while the lower floor involved more in holistic and regional missions (things may change of course).
It is a reminder of how things change. The name Crawley in the center name is for Winston Crawley. He was a Southern Baptist missionary from the United States, among the first to come to the Philippines in the late 1940s. He was instrumental in the founding of the first SB church in the Philippines and served as its first pastor. Other Americans serving as missionaries in the Philippines purchased land in Baguio and set up Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary. For several decades the seminary was foreign owned, and led by foreigners. In the late 1990s things changed with the gradual transfer of property, faculty, and leadership to locals.
The missions center shows a continuation of this change. The Philippines is more and more seeing itself as a missions sending country. The missions center itself is being built with Asian (as opposed to Western) moneys (they are still looking for donors to finish the structure). The ground-breaking has no Americans or “Westerners” in it (a couple of us attended as guests). Among those in the ground-breaking include Dr. Joyce Abugan (President of Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary), Ptr. Lino Caronongan (one of the leaders of One Sending Body, a Philippine-based missionary sending organization), and Dr. Will Kwon (Korean missions professor, and a leader with Asia Vision-STM, another Philippine-based missionary sending organizaiton).
To me, this transfer of power is valuable, and necessary. This is a natural part of what is often called the “Southern Shift” in Christianity. Power and leadership should shift along with the faith and population.
Since we live just a few minutes away from this new missions center, we are excited for what the future holds.