Word of Life Philippines has a rich testimony of God’s faithfulness! From the very beginning the team’s purpose has been evangelism and discipleship of Filipino youth and that focus continues to drive them on today as they strive to meet the changing needs of young people with the truth from God’s Word that never changes.
1973 marked the beginning of Word of Life in the Philippines as evangelist, Rev. Ernie Hautala, arrived from the United States with his family. The first few years were spent developing Bible Clubs on a small scale and an evangelistic Bible Basketball program. Their motto became: “No Bible, No Basketball”. God was at work, and in 1975 the first Filipino staff joined the team.
As the team looked to expand their camping ministry, God provided a beautiful piece of jungle property in September of 1977. It was a miracle; the team had no money to buy a piece of land, but no money was needed! The property was entrusted to Word of Life Philippines for free with a 25-year lease. Construction on the camp began immediately and on April 22, 1978 the new camp was dedicated to the Lord.
Young people started attending camps at Word of Life and many came to know the Lord as their personal Savior. This resulted in the start of many office Bible studies around Manila as young professionals desired to grow in their new relationship with Jesus Christ. For a time, there were more than 25 evangelistic office Bible studies around Manila, including some on college campuses.
1981 saw the start of the Word of Life Bible Institute program. Nine students attended the school the first year under the leadership of Rev. Joe Mauk. This 1-year Bible training and discipleship program continued to grow under the leadership of Dr. Gerry Tolentino and Rev. John Fogle. Today, the Word of Life Bible Institute trains an average of 30 students each year. The program has also expanded into an optional second, third- or fourth-year extension for those desiring to go into full time ministry.
Rev. Mike Foster arrived with his family in 1983 and under his leadership the Word of Life Philippines Bible Club ministry officially began. This ministry continued to grow under the leadership of Rev. Tom Dennison and is blossoming today with the name of Local Church Ministries under the leadership of Rev. Jonel Arcedera. Today, the Local Church Ministries team is partnering with over 20 local churches and schools around the country providing discipleship, curriculum, and leadership training.
In 1991, Word of Life’s camping ministry began to expand as they were given a beautiful seaside property just outside Cagayan De Oro City, Mindanao under the leadership of Rev. Keith Ebrahim. Again, God provided in miraculous ways and Seaside Bible Camp began to expand and blossom. Today, this southern camp holds an average of 15,000 campers each year!
As the camping program continued to grow it came time for the 25-year property lease to expire. Again, the team looked to the Lord, asking Him what He would have them to do. The decision was made to purchase a new piece of property and in August of 2000 God provided, not only the place, but the finances to purchase the property as well! On March 3, 2001 an official property dedication was held, and construction on “Project New Beginning” was begun. More than 40 work teams from the US and other countries, in addition to the staff and local laborers, made it possible to transfer the entire Camp/BI ministry (plus the then 22 staff families) from the old camp to the new Calauan site by the deadline.
Under the leadership of Rev. Mike Foster beginning in 1997, Word of Life Philippines expanded to over 75 staff located in all three geographical regions of the Philippines (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao). Between the two Word of Life Camps in Laguna and Mindanao over 30,000 campers were hearing the good news about Jesus.
In May of 2015, the directorship of the ministry was passed on to Rev. Mike VanProoyen. The future of Word of Life is exciting as we seek to expand our ministry into more areas of the Philippines while also catching the vision to expand into South East Asian Countries.
Our ministry is currently made up of a Camping ministry in 2 locations, Bible Institute led by Dr. Gerry Tolentino, Local Church ministries division led by Rev. Jonel Arcedera and an ongoing Campus Ministry at University of the Philippines in Los Baños under the leadership of Rev. Bing Echem;
2018 was an exciting year in the camping ministry. Between our two camp properties and multiple Island camps, we set a record for Word of Life by ministering to more than 37,000 campers in one year!
The glory goes to God alone! By His grace, the Word of Life Philippines team is looking forward to continuing to reach young people around the Philippines and Asia with God’s message of hope and Salvation.
In February 1973, Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Hautala arrived in the Philippines with their family to begin to reach youth with the Gospel through the ministry of Word of Life. The first few years were spent in language study, camps on rented facilities, Bible clubs on a small scale, and the beginning of the Bible Basketball program. They also began a ministry to businessmen in Manila.
Ernie started the first Word of Life Camps from 1974 to 1979 on rented facilities in Batangas and Laguna. The first camp had 8 campers & 8 counselors.
In 1977, a pastor in Manila introduced Ernie to Mr. Cristobal Conducto, who owned a 10-hectare coconut plantation in Rizal, Laguna. Word of Life tried to buy the property for the camp, but Mr. Conducto would not sell. Instead, he offered to lease the property to WOL for free for 25 years.
Word of Life had no facilities or money for a camp, but that became a miracle in God’s hands. The property was a lovely 10-hectare coconut plantation set with Mt. Banahaw in the background. The camp was dedicated to the Lord April 22, 1978.
We had no money but it cost no money! Ernie liked to say, 0+0 = a miracle.
1974 - 1977
In 1976, the Lord began to grow a desire in Ernie’s heart to begin a Biblical Leadership Institute to answer the need for Christians of all backgrounds to be grounded in the Word of God. Ernie invited Joe Mauk, then Academic Dean of the Word of Life Bible Institute in Sydney, Australia, to come to the Philippines and help start the program. Joe & Ruth Mauk arrived in the Philippines with their family, and in July 1981, the dream became a reality. From 1984 to 1993, the Schedule for Advanced Studies was offered to provide further study and specialization in Missions, Pastoral Studies, Biblical Languages and Christian Education.
As a result of some professionals being saved at camp, WOL began an office Bible study in Manila at the Development Bank of the Philippines. This soon expanded to evangelistic Bible studies in more that 25 offices around Manila.
Word of Life began a university ministry at the University of the East (UE) and Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) campuses under the leadership of John Fogle.
The Word of Life Biblical Leadership Institute began under the direction of Rev. Joe Mauk. The first year began with 18 students. The program included a Bible survey from Genesis to Revelation, Bible exposition and Systematic Theology. In addition to academics, students were given practical training through work assignments and weekend ministries in local churches.
An annual missions conference, weekend retreats, summer camps, and weekend ministries gave the students exposure and practice in various areas of gospel ministry. The program was designed as an intenstive ten-month post-college course at the Word of Life Camp facility in Rizal, Laguna.
1982 - 1984
Radio ministry became a reality with a 15-minute broadcast going out weekly on DWWW, a 50,000-watt station every Sunday at 6:00pm on the FM and 6:30pm on the AM dial. This ministry was primarily an evangelistic endeavor to present the Gospel to those who had never heard it. Those who wrote in were encouraged to enroll in a Bible Correspondence Course in the Gospel of John. Many came to know the Lord through radio and corrospondence.
WOLBI added the Schedule for Advanced Studies (SAS) program to cater the further studies of Bible School graduates.
Local Church Ministries or Bible Clubs as it was originally known, began under the direction of Rev. Mike Foster. The program uses the lay leaders in local church to produce godly habits in the lives of young people. Important ingredients are Quiet Time, Scripture Memory, Doctrinal Study, and Evangelism.
Rev. Joe Mauk became the director of Word of Life Philippines.
Tom Dennison arrived with his family to become the Executive Dean of the Bible Institute.
Word of Life Philippines’ ministry expanded to the island of Mindanao through the acquisition of Seaside Bible Camp.
Rev. Keith Ebrahim became the director of Word of Life Philippines.
Youth Reach Out Team visits the Philippines under the leadership of Lou & Thelma Nicholes, Roy & Barbara Davoll, and Dave Kelly.
Rev. Gerry Tolentino became the Executive Dean of the Word of Life Bible Institute.
Rev. John Fogle became the Academic Dean of the Word of Life Bible Institute.
Rev. Mike Foster became the director of Word of Life Philippines.
Word of Life Philippines celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The School of Ministerial Studies program was added to the Bible Institute.
2000 - 2002
As the lease on the Rizal camp property came to a close, God miraculously provided for the purchase of a beautiful, riverside camp property in Calauan, Laguna. The property was discovered December 1999, purchased July 2000, and dedicated to the Lord March 2001. Over 50 work-teams came to help with the new camp development. By God’s grace, camps continued without interruption when the ministry moved in September 2002.
2000 - 2002
As a staff, we unanimously decided not to borrow any money to build the new camp and BI. If the Lord did not supply, we would not build. WOL Philippines Director at the time, Mike Foster, then challenged the staff that the sacrificial giving to accomplish this project must start with us. As we watched and prayed, God stirred the hearts of the people from all different places: to pray, to give, and to come help us build. A number of local workers and 2 work team members were saved during the camp development.
Campus Ministry at the University of the Philippines Los Baños began.
When Typhoon Milenyo hit the Philippines in September 2006, the river rose over 40 feet and flooded the Bible Institute classroom and library which was then located in the lower part of the auditorium building. Almost all the books in the library were destroyed and equipment was damaged. There was great loss, but blessings overflowed at the same time! God in His grace used this event as an instrument to move the Bible Institute to an area of its own. Construction began on the first, main Bible Institute building in 2007. Books were donated from all different sources and the library is now even better equipped than before.
2007 - 2009
As God provided funds, construction of the new BI building began. We broke ground on March 1, 2008 and classes were held in it for the first time in June 2009!
Thew new Bible Institute building was dedicated to the Lord by the former Word of Life Fellowship Executive Director, George Theis. We now have over 700 graduates from the Word of Life Philippines Bible Institute! To God be the glory!