Chris Hindal, director of Regular Baptist International, and his wife, Deb, left Oct. 30 for Asia on a three-week trip that included stops in Shanghai, China; Tagaytay City, Philippines; and Hong Kong. (Read news from various days of the Hindals’ trip.)
On the Hindals’ itinerary was the All-Partners Conference in Tagaytay City, Philippines. This conference of the International Partnership of Fundamental Baptist Ministries, a ministry of Regular Baptist International, occurs every four years. This year it took place Nov. 6–10 at the Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center, a Christian ministry that rents its beautiful facilities to Christian groups for retreats and conferences. The staff joyfully served the conferees and the food was excellent.
Seventy guests representing IPFBM partnerships from nine countries attended, learning from the church-planting theme “Global Construction Zone.” A banner across the front of the auditorium highlighted the four goals of the conference: (1) to strengthen relationships among IPFBM partners, (2) to provide instruction in church planting strategies, (3) to find ways to supply pastors and associations with resources, and (4) to encourage the IPFBM partners to work together.
When ministry leaders from around the globe discover counterparts from another continent who share the same values and do similar ministries, they are all encouraged. Face-to-face fellowship and hand-in-hand prayer times empower them as fellow soldiers of the cross. Chris Hindal, director of Regular Baptist International and the primary organizer of the conference, observes, “Since some of these men have never been out of their country, the interaction they experience is like a taste of Heaven. What a joy for me to see our Indian brothers praying with Africans, and the Burmese and Bangladeshis leading the Americans to the throne of grace. It is a foretaste of the celebration of praise in Revelation 7.”
Council of Eight
At each conference, guests elect men to serve on the IPFBM Council of Eight. The newly elected council members include men from four continents. Council members are Reuel Lumilang (chairman), a Filipino missionary serving in Thailand; Chris Hindal (vice chairman); Cyrus Wanyoni of Kenya; Paulo Bondezan of Brazil; Prasad Sakile of India; Ajoy Mitra of Bangladesh; Jesse Quapourle of Liberia; and Timothy Mang of Myanmar. (Reuel, Cyrus, and Chris also served the previous term.) Each council member expressed humility and excitement with the responsibility of serving.
The first order of business for the new council will be reviewing and vetting two IPFBM applications. An association of 500 Baptist churches in Zambia, Africa, is pending review, and an association in Malawi, Africa, has submitted an application. To join the partnership, an association must submit an application, along with the doctrinal statement and an overview of the history of the association. Each council member reviews the documents and submits their responses to the chairman.
Keeping in mind that the IPFBM is a network of independent Baptist church associations, the council makes its decision for accepting an association based on that association’s doctrinal compatibility, separation from charismatic or liberal organizations, and commitment to the Great Commission. While an association may receive a preliminary acceptance, the council’s final decision requires a visit and recommendation from a council member. Chris Hindal admits, “Early in the partnership’s formation, a visit was not required. However, we learned a couple of times that documents don’t tell the whole story. Subsequent to a visit, the council has dismissed associations for practices not consistent with the application.”
Preaching and Workshops
This year’s conference faced some unusual challenges. Surprisingly, the Philippine Embassy rejected any visa that indicated the person’s intention to attend a religious conference. Several people from India and Bangladesh who had planned to attend were refused. Though the embassy’s reason was not clear, it appeared that the religious war in the southern island of Mindanao caused the embassy to be more restrictive. In addition, the dates of the conference followed closely behind the provincial conferences of the Association of Fundamental Baptist Churches in the Philippines. And though the number of guests attending the conference was lower than anticipated, their evaluations showed they were not at all disappointed in the event.
The daily program included preaching sessions, a three-part doctrinal overview, workshops on specialty topics, and a track of instruction. Dr. Jim Vogel, executive director of the Northeast Fellowship and editor of The Pastor: A Guide for
God’s Faithful Servant, taught a track on practical helps for pastors and a three-part doctrinal series. Clare Jewel, national church planting coordinator for Regular Baptist Churches, offered a track on church planting and a three-part series on the dynamics of cross-cultural outreach. The ladies met six times with Jim’s wife, Jeannie (author of Accepting the Challenge: Leadership Lessons from the Life of Moses, Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John, and Our Sovereign God: The Book of Ezra), to consider meaningful issues that ladies face.
In addition to Chris Hindal, Clare Jewel, and the Vogels, those who preached or led workshops included Dr. H. C. Stephen of India, Philip Fernandez of the Philippines, Hoi Cung Tum of Myanmar, Cyrus Wanyoni of Kenya, Joshua Abedu-Kennedy of Ghana, and Chris Brown of the United States. One speaker, J. D. Enosh of Bangalore, India, had been refused a visa, so Kirk Wesselink, pastor of Desert Hills Baptist Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico, capably stepped up to speak in his place. In addition, Prasad Sakile of Andhra Pradesh, India, had been scheduled to lead a workshop, but his visa application was also rejected.
Essential to any conference, especially one overseas, is a local committee led by a logistics chairman. Maymon Sarnicula, pastor of a Baptist church in Dasmarinas, Philippines, proved to be an extraordinary chairman. He faced incredible challenges in providing transportation from three disconnected international terminals to the venue about two hours away. And with conferees converging from different countries bringing their own currencies, the registrars had to be competent. The local committee also printed the conference materials, created large banners, and promoted the conference on social media and through representatives at other conferences. Pastor Maymon drew upon local church musicians to lead worship and coordinated a post-conference two-day visit of tourist spots in Tagaytay and Manila for 21 conferees.