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“DNA” is a molecule that contains the genetic code unique to every individual & the information coded in the DNA is hereditary meaning that it passes from parent to child. 

A century ago, Dr. Raphael Thomas, the first missionary with his mother-in-law Lucy Peabody left the US & brought the Gospel to the Philippines. Dr. Thomas didn’t know what he would do next, but God was planning something amazing. He laid the foundation for bringing people to Jesus Christ.  


“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2 

  • In 1923, Doane Baptist Bible Institute in Iloilo City started training young men & women for the work of the Lord. The emphasis of their work was not only on evangelism but on disciple-making. Pastors, lady workers “Bible Women”, & missionaries were produced as a result. 
  • 10 years later, Baptist Bible Seminary & Institute was born in Manila. The mission work has saturated cities, towns & barangays through the Gospel & many came to know & have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. These Bible schools have made a huge impact in expanding the kingdom of God.  
  • Later, another Bible school started in Leyte called, Leyte Baptist Seminary & the Bukidnon Fundamental Baptist Seminary in Mindanao & other Bible schools which were started by pastors & workers. 

Both my parents studied & graduated from Doane Baptist Bible Institute in Iloilo City in late 1960. Then in 1973, Bethel Baptist Hospital was founded by ABWE by sending missionary nurses & it began to grow in 1949 when the Late D. Lincoln Nelson, a Naval Physician & his wife joined the team. 

After my father pastored several churches, he took the position of chaplain at Bethel Baptist Hospital where I and my sister were born. We, then became members of Bethel Baptist Church of Malaybalay City which was a product of ABWE mission work too. 

In 1984, I became one of the first pioneer students when Bethel Baptist Christian Academy started in the same city. After high school graduation, I went to Baptist Bible Seminary & Institute in Manila until graduation in 1999.  

The ministry of the ABWE in the Philippines through these years has truly impacted my life. It is rooted in my DNA for two reasons. 


This speaks of what Jesus Christ did. He left the splendors of heaven. He came down to earth, lived a sinless life, and ministered to the people regardless of who they were, and what they’ve been through. He gave His life as a ransom, shed His blood on the cross, was buried & rose from the grave. 

In retrospect, ABWE missionaries sacrificed so much by leaving the comforts of their home, the quality of life, and their friends & families to go to a country they’ve never been to before plus the challenges of the culture, environment, the weather in obedience to God’s call. 

They stripped themselves of all these by going to the highways & byways, to the mountains & the valleys bringing hope all for their love to the lost people like me who needed Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. 


As the saying goes, “People will not care what you know until they know how much you care.” As part of the culture embedded in us as Filipinos, when foreigners come and embrace our culture, we begin to break down barriers and start to open up and reciprocate in return. 

Through the years, we have valued the love that ABWE missionaries have shown not only in word but also in deed. As a result, it pointed us to love God & know God more. They didn’t rest in the fact that people are getting saved through their faithful ministry. They made sure that believers were trained, developed to disciple others, and provided us with resources so the ministry continues to live on. 


Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (John 12:24-26) 

I have seen firsthand not only the cost of what it is to sacrifice oneself for the cause of Christ but the fruit their faithful labor has produced over 1000 churches in the entire Philippines and are continuing to start churches, even venturing into cross-cultural ministry without leaving the country. 

Today, we’ve seen vast numbers of migrants from different countries in the U.S. In 1998, I migrated to the U.S. and interned in one of the many churches planted by the Late Geno Lubaton who was a product of ABWE ministry in the Philippines. 

The legacy of ABWE’s ministry lives on as the church where I have been a pastor for the last 26 years is on its eighth church plant and continues to make disciples. A lot of us pastors have been deprived of resources like books & training but, we have taken that step because of what we have seen firsthand among other pastors in the area of church planting. 

Partnering with EveryEthne, an arm of the ABWE has truly fueled our passion to endeavor to sow the seeds through the resources, training, and equipping the church people to do the work of the ministry. The cycle continues.  


The model ABWE showed us in building God’s kingdom has challenged us to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, plant the seeds, and disciple believers until Jesus comes. 

I have learned that the success of the church doesn’t only depend on the church’s seating capacity but on the sending capacity. America to me which was once a vehicle for spreading the Gospel is now a mission field with so many people groups all over the country that need to hear the Gospel. 

We will continue to carry the torch for the Great Commission as the heartbeat of the mission to reach the lost, plant churches, and produce disciple-makers. We will continue the process until all will hear.  

This is my DNA through ABWE. 

Rhyjob Henry “Rj” Cabugwas has served as pastor of First Baptist Church since 1998. He received his bachelor’s degree at Baptist Bible Seminary & Institute in Manila, Philippines & his Master in Divinity at Great Plains Baptist Divinity School & is finishing his graduate studies. Rj and his wife Phebe have three children. Reuben, Sean & Karisse. Aside from ministry work, he likes to play basketball & pickle-ball. Rj’s desire is to continue to make disciples & plant churches until Jesus comes. Matthew 28:19-20;Acts 1:8.

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