PHILIPPINES – When pandemic restrictions hit the Philippines, Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP) President Antonio Reyes and his wife Arlene were caught in Tiaong, Quezon Province—a small town about 100 kms away from the LCP’s main office in Manila. So he did what anyone would do: begin mission work.
Of course, that wasn’t the plan from the beginning. President Reyes had been visiting a property recently acquired by the LCP when the quarantine was instituted. Unable to return to Manila, he organized a local food-distribution ministry, providing free rice to informal settlers living along the Philippine National Railway who were unable to work as a result of pandemic regulations. What began as a service to 12 families would eventually grow to reach 40 families.
That practical assistance led in time to Bible studies with local people, and eventually to regular worship services. Today, the LCP has a new mission congregation in the area with a unique name: “COVID Lutheran Church,” with “COVID” standing for “Christ Our Victorious Infinite Deliverer”—a deliberate reminder that God can use even the most difficult circumstances for good.
“Despite having to face the negative effects of the pandemic, we thank God for His grace and His mercy,” President Reyes says of the situation in the Philippines. “Even in these times, the Church prevails.”
Today, the LCP continues to provide rice to those in need, as funds are available. And the pandemic—which has resulted in job losses as well as an increase in the price of basic food commodities—has left many in need.
The Lutheran Church in the Philippines is a member of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies.