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2013 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering
PHILADELPHIA (NAMB)—If anyone understands the impact church planting and evangelism can have on someone, it’s Peter Yanes. Together, the two changed his life.
Born and raised in the islands of the Philippines, Yanes grew up in a predominantly Roman Catholic nation with a family deeply devoted to the church. Yanes himself spent much of his youth serving as an altar boy with aspirations of one day becoming a priest.
All that changed with an invitation.
“I was in high school and a friend invited me to a Bible study,” Yanes recalls. “That’s where I came to know Jesus Christ in a personal way. Since then, there’s been no turning back.”
The church that hosted this Bible study was a church plant started by a Filipino planter.
“Church planting is very special and important to me because without it, I wouldn’t be where I am,” Yanes explains.
This heart for church planting makes Yanes the perfect fit for his role as a mobilization missionary for the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey. Based in Philadelphia, Yanes’ work as a mobilizer for the area allows him to identify and support planters and partners as they start and grow new churches. With only 400 SBC congregations serving a population of more than 15 million in the convention, the area needs new churches. For his part, Yanes is working specifically to catalyze ethnic church planters to reach the growing number of people groups in the area.
“My ministry allows me to build great relationships with our ethnic pastors,” Yanes says. “Having relationships and support can be such an asset because their position can be very lonely and very tough at times.”
This is a feeling Yanes knows firsthand. After pastoring a church in the Philippines, he and his wife, Irene, made the move to the United States in 1998 and began the work of church planting in Philadelphia. He has spent the better part of the last 14 years serving the growing ethnic population in Philadelphia. He supported the now thriving Philadelphia Bible Church International in its early years in an effort to provide a place of worship for Filipino transplants living in the city. By taking on his current role, Yanes can share his experiences in ethnic church planting with others like him looking to reach their own diverse communities.
“Philadelphia is a very diverse city with many ethnicities and nationalities,” Yanes explains. “Anything that I can do to help planters build relationships with their people groups and eventually share the message of the Gospel in cities like Philly is important. It takes a great relationship with all of our ethnic pastors around the area to see this happen.”
One such person he is pouring his leadership into and building a relationship with is fellow Filipino church planter Noel Geniza. While serving as both worship leader and deacon at Philadelphia Bible Church International, Geniza’s heart for ministry caught Yanes’ eye.
“Noel has been a faithful member of our church for so long,” Yanes says. “Back home in the Philippines, he was a pastor and it’s clear this is his calling. It was just a matter of time before he stepped back into it here.”
Having settled in Pottstown, a suburb some 50 miles north of Philadelphia, Geniza and his family were traveling every Sunday to attend Philadelphia Bible Church International and worship with a Filipino community. However, the continuous commute proved taxing on the Geniza family and Noel began to see the need for a church like this closer to home.
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