THE CHURCH IN MANILA
Shortly afterwards, the meeting place was transferred to Gandara Street. The meeting place was then called Christian Gospel Hall. From 1930 to 1937, many renowned preachers and revivalists from China and other countries were invited to hold conferences and preach the gospel. However, the number of saved ones did not increase much. The attendance in the regular meeting was about a little over 100.
The first turning point of the church was in June of 1937, when Bro. Watchman Nee passed by Manila on his way to England. He was to hold a conference. The messages he spoke were on “The Overcoming Life of Christians.” In his fellowship, he recommended Bro. Witness Lee, referring to him as a brother who has a bright spiritual future. Only then did the saints start to know and admire Bro. Lee. Before the start of World War II, they invited him to come and help, but before he could even process his travel papers, war broke out, so his coming was delayed.
In 1940, the Philippines fell into the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. The church was prevented from having meetings. Nevertheless, the church still prayed in one accord and was eventually led by the Lord through this dark period of trial.
In 1945, the meeting hall was burned and reduced to ashes before the Americans liberated the Philippines. The church temporarily rented the meeting hall of St. Stephen’s Parish at Magdalena Street for meetings. In the same year, the church purchased a lot at Soler Street where a meeting hall was built. The meeting hall’s name was changed to Christian Gospel Center. After liberation, the brothers toiled for their livelihood and could not concentrate to serve the Lord. Because of this, the Lord’s Word grew scarce. Frequently, they had to ask the pastor in the U.S. Army to give the message on the Lord’s Day meeting. This caused the number of attendees to go down.
In 1950 the church experienced yet another turning point. At the end of the same year, the Lord sent Bro. Witness Lee to Manila and gave the church timely help and supply, leading the church to enter into the flow of His recovery. His visit brought blessing to the church. Many saints were added, bringing vitality to the church.
During his visit, the co-workers, elders and deacons asked Bro. Lee to help the church to move onward. When asked whether they wanted him to help as a guest speaker or to take the lead, the co-workers, the elders, the deacons signified their willingness to hand themselves over for Bro. Lee to take the lead. Around 1951, after Bro. Lee stepped forward to lead the church, the church dropped the name “Christian Gospel Center” and started to meet the local ground as the church In Manila.
In April of 1961, Bro. Lee led a group of young people to Baguio for a training. There they experienced the outpouring of the Spirit Even as they sung, “Spring up, well, with water,” the Spirit greatly poured out Himself upon the saints. While the believers on the mountain were experiencing the outpouring of the Spirit, a storm blew upon the church. While the Spirit was burning on the mountain, rebellious sentiments were brewing below. A few ambitious people, who were envious of the church leadership, often gathered secretly and unscrupulously slandered Bro. Lee, distributing flyers containing the words: Bring down the four elders, and Drive away Witness Lee.
The four elders then wrote a letter to Bro. Weigh Kwang-hsi, requesting him to come to Manila and help. Bro. Weigh came and fellowshipped with the opposing co-workers and pointed out their mistakes. At the same time, he ministered the Word in various kinds of meetings.
In August 22 of the same year, the opposers caused P.C. soldiers to be deployed and, therefore, occupied the meeting hall, barring the entrance of the elders and of any brother or sister, effectively suspending the church meetings.
On August 24, the pure lovers of the Lord rented a meeting hall at No. 543 Juan Luna Street. Bro. Weigh ministered the Word during the meetings, reckoning their being expelled from the meeting hall as the Lord’s sanctifying word. The meeting was filled with the Lord’s presence incidence eventually dissipated.
After the turmoil, the church in Manila was preserved by the Lord to stand on the local ground of oneness, according to the pure revelation of the Bible.
Bro. Lee served and supplied the church starting the end of 1950 until April, 1961 when the rebellion broke out. In these eleven years, he ceaselessly sowed, planted and watered the church in Manila. Every year, he spent around half of his time to serve in the church in Manila, spending his life, time and energy here. His work during this period of time can be categorized as follows: (1) Leading, administrating and shepherding the church; (2) establishing the workers’ house and training full-time young people; (3) ministering the word the messages concerning the 30 points on character were given in Manila); (4) establishing the deacons’ office; (5) visiting the churches in the North and the South; and (6) translating and writing hymns.
Because of the coming of Bros. Lee and Weigh to Manila, Manila and Taiwan started to have fellowship in the Body of Christ by supplying one another materially and spiritually. During that period Bro. Lee led the saints to become one of the following for kinds of persons: (1) A co-worker, (2) an elder, (3) a deacon; or (4) a full-time money-maker for the Lord. One of the brothers received the burden to be a person in the fourth category. At that time, he gave material offerings to Taiwan and helped in the construction of meeting halls in various churches, without knowing the greater spiritual blessings from Taiwan will flow back to the church in Manila in the years to come.
In the years that followed, there were faithful co-workers like Bro. Weigh Kwang-hsi, Bro. Chang Wu-chen, Bro. Hwong Guey-seng with his wife, Bro. Liu Suey and Bro. Liu Chi Cheng with his wife, who came and became blessings to the church. They fully testify that a church in the fellowship of the body is blessed.
In 1969, the church purchased a piece of land in 1007 Ongpin Street, and a meeting hall was built.
The church in Manila is the cradle of the Lord’s recovery in the Philippines. Many churches in Metro Manila have since propagated from Manila. Although the administration of each locality is independent, yet he fellowship of the Body in the spirit is one, receiving in one accord the teaching of the apostles and the leading of the ministry.
In 1970, Bro. Liu Suey received the burden to come to serve in the Philippines. Twenty young brothers and sisters received a one-year training that he conducted in coordination with Bro. Hwong Guey-seng and his wife.
On October 22-26, 1979, Bro. Lee led the Co-workers’
and Elders’ meeting for the Churches in Asia held at the meeting
hall of the church in Quezon City, which has a bigger meeting hall.
During that trip, Bro. Lee appointed five new elders in Manila to coordinate
with the two elderly elders to meet the need of the growing church
In 1979, Bro. Liu Chi Cheng, who was originally propagating in Taiwan, was sent by the ministry to serve the church in Zamboanga and nearby places. Soon afterwards, he was added among the responsible brothers of the church in Manila through Bro. Chang Wu-chen. Together with the brothers, he serves the church to perfect the saints. He also serves other churches in coordination with other co-workers. Bro. Liu with his wife prayed every day on their knees for three years for the church in Manila and for the advance of the Lord’s work in the Philippines. They waited upon the Lord’s move.
In January of 1984, they began to pursue together every day with a group of called saints at the meeting hall of the church in Manila. This was a precursor of the full-time training in the northern part of the Philippines.
In November of 1984, Bro. Witness Lee came to the Philippines and held a conference, calling for more college graduates to be trained. At the same time, he directed Bro. Liu to start a full-time training for the young people. Because of the limitation of space in the meeting hall of the church in Manila, the full-time training was moved to the newly-constructed meeting hall of the church in Malabon. At that time, Bro. Liu had his hands full. With one hand, he carried the full-time training, and with the other hand, he brought the churches onward. He kept the church in Manila in constant fellowship with other Metro Manila churches through the monthly fellowship of elders and co-workers in Metro Manila, the semi-annual fellowship among the churches of Regions 1-VI of the Philippines, and regular annual perfecting trainings.
The worldwide rebellion in the 1980’s started brewing in 1983 and broke the surface from 1988 to 1991. When the winds of rebellion battered the Philippines, the church in Manila was persevered by the Lord and escaped contamination, peacefully sailing through the danger. During these times, the elderly saints in the church, as aged roots, firmly took root downwards, while the younger generation gloriously bore fruit upwards. The church followed the leading of the ministry to take the way, knocking on doors to preach the gospel, begetting, nourishing, perfecting and building…
At present, the number of saints coming and going to the meetings reaches 700. The saints meet in 15 districts in the four halls. Hall 1 has six districts and the meetings use either Mandarin, Fookienese, English or Tagalog. Hall 2, which is adjacent to various Chinese schools, has three districts and meetings are held in either Fookienese, English or Tagalog. The saints of Hall 3 come from the districts of Paco, Sta. Ana and Malate. They also have three district meetings using either Fookienese, English or Tagalog. Hall 4 is near the internationally-renowned University of Santo Tomas. The saints in Hall 4 use either English or Tagalog in the meetings. Recently, the first district meeting held in the house of the saints was established in Hall 4.
In September 1997, Bro. Witness Lu and Sis. Sarah L. Lu were invited to serve in manila t intensify and shepherd the saints, especially the Chinese-speaking.
In 2000, the church started to practice prayer groups from house to house. This caused more saints to have a burden for the church and the work of the ministry. Originally, the total number of saints praying every week in the four halls was around 70. Now the number of saints climbed to an average of 170 praying every week. At present, there are 33 prayer groups in the church and the blessing flows to individuals and to the whole church.
The church in Manila is closely following the learning of the ministry. The church tries its best to send participants to bring home the rich speaking of the ministry during the seven trainings and conferences held annually by the Living Stream Ministry. Together with the churches in Metro Manila, the saints are led to enjoy the morning revival on the messages and dive into the burden of the conferences and trainings. More and more saints are now attending the video training of the Summer and Winter Trainings. We thank the Lord for sending more and more workers who frequently come to the Philippines to supply the churches
More and more young people were sent to attend the full-time training in Malabon, Taipei, and even in Anaheim. This training has produced a new crop of serving young people visit to the moving on of the church in Manila.
The church in Manila keeps the teaching of the apostles and follows the leading of the ministry. She stands upon the ground of oneness of the local church and is always open to the university fellowship. All the saints and the churches are welcome to come and fellowship with us.
(Source: Profile of the churches, handout during the International Blending Conference in the Philippines, Oct. 14, 200, Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City, Philippines, pp. 18-21.)