The Philippines, a 7,100-islands republic, is inhabited by over 97 million people. Her people are multi-racial (Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and more) and multi-lingual (speaking several dialects of eight major languages, plus 171 additional dialects). These factors make the Philippines a very challenging country in which to conduct ministry, but Teody and Evelyn Pajaron don’t shy away from the task.
When Teody was finishing his doctoral studies at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon before heading back to the Philippines, a missionary friend sponsored them to attend a Weekend to Remember® getaway in 1991. Teody had just stepped down as National Director of Philippines Campus Crusade for Christ prior to his studies, and he and Evelyn had been praying, “Lord, what ministry do you want us to do that we could be doing for the rest of our lives?” The conviction and passion in their hearts for families began to take root and grow. They attended the first FamilyLife International Speakers/Administrators’ training and returned to the Philippines ready to put into practice what they had learned.
One of their first steps was to start a HomeBuilders group consisting of key denominational leaders in their city. God ministered so greatly to these couples that they eventually attended training themselves and became the core of the FamilyLife Philippines team. Together they established the first citywide Weekend to Remember in Davao, and over 500 people attended.
God continued to open doors through former disciples who were now pastoring churches, and FamilyLife seminars spread to new places. The team also adapted an interactive, one-day seminar called “I Still Do” which became very popular.
One person they ministered to was a pastor named Tony. He was having problems in his marriage but latched on to the biblical teaching presented by FamilyLife. He was so eager to help other couples that he and his wife became volunteers, trained eight other couples to conduct FamilyLife in their area, and within a year sponsored 11 seminars with 559 people in attendance, 84 of whom prayed to receive Christ. They also helped start 15 HomeBuilders groups. The seminar and HomeBuilders groups are part of their church-planting efforts to this day.
“It’s like this many times,” explains Teody. Many of their key volunteers are couples who were greatly ministered to in their own marriages and family life, and began finding ways to share that with others. “God raised up couples who have a vision of using FamilyLife strategy in their areas and established a core team in their city or province. God has grown both the team and the ministry, blessing us with people who are very passionate in transforming families. We just went along with Him.”
The Pajarons and their team have found creative ways to stretch their ministry further, including partnerships with businesses and denominations. They also minister in tribal areas through an oral presentation for those who can’t read. In addition, they planted the seed for ministry and help resource other countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Indonesia.
Ministry in the Philippines can be challenging, but God’s blessing on the ministry makes it worthwhile. Chris and Grace are a couple who have been married over 16 years and were leading two HomeBuilders groups, yet their own marriage was crumbling. Chris was considering leaving his wife, while Grace was considering taking her life. Through prayers and the steady reminders of God’s plan for their marriage, they were able to face their problems and recommit themselves “for better or for worse” through God’s power.
Whatever difficulties they may face, the Pajarons know that God is passionate about changing the fate of marriages and drawing couples and families to Him. And they are more than happy to join Him in His work!