Listening to God’s Word and the World

If you’re looking to find Langham Scholar Dr. Rolex Cailing, a biblical leader trained with support from Langham in the Philippines, you’re going to have to look in some unusual places.

Many Filipinos would expect to find him tucked away in his office all day. But Rolex is more likely to be found engaged in a game of basketball with local youth. Or sitting shoulder to shoulder with a recently displaced family, or teaching homeless families the art of urban gardening.

Rolex, following the ethos established by Langham’s founder, John Stott, is fully engaged with his community. He used his PhD to integrate the Bible with culture. And in his Filipino context, where some with academic degrees might be confined to the “ivory tower,” it’s all the more powerful.

Context and community

When Rolex returned to the Philippines after completing his PhD studies, he says God opened up bigger opportunities for him to share his heart for community immersion with pastors and church leaders.

Through his teaching and mentoring, Rolex helps prepare future ministry leaders who bring hope to the Philippines.

“I love mentoring,” Rolex shares. “I have been mentoring pastors and most of them are my former students in the seminary.”

One of the principles Rolex is eager to pass on is how important it is for preachers to be engaged with their communities—taking context into consideration.

A transformational experience

Community immersion is not a popular ministry model in the Philippines, according to Rolex. Instead, he says, some pastors are too quick to tell people in tragic situations that “It’s OK, God has a plan.”

“You can’t just jump in and say ‘God has a purpose for this tragedy’ – and you’re talking to someone who just lost three kids? But, by being there, living with them and listening to their cries, you are sending a message that God is alive and in control,” Rolex emphasises. “For a theologian like me, it is transformational to be immersed in the community of the dispersed and displaced. . . it is [also] transformational for the people observing your ministry.”

The “dispersed and displaced people” Rolex refers to are the survivors of typhoon Haiyan, a superstorm that smashed into the Philippines in November 2013. Thousands of people died and millions lost their homes. At least 2,000 of those homeless people relocated in the province of Rizal, where Rolex and his family live. Through Rolex’s support and leadership as senior pastor and founder of Life Reach Ministries, many of the resettled families have found hope and are growing in their relationship with God.

By partnering with other organisations, Rolex created opportunities to help the displaced community meet critical needs. He set up a feeding programme for children and taught parents how to recycle and make money from trash. He organised basketball teams to connect with the youth and men in the community. And, because there were no schools in the resettlement area, Rolex started one tailored to the needs of local children.

Church growth vision

Pastor Jonathan Cion was mentored by Rolex and helps pastor at Life Reach. “What he taught me is the importance of [knowing] the Word of God.”

While Rolex’s initial goal was to help the displaced families rebuild their lives, eventually he was able to start a church in the community. Now with three churches under his leadership, Rolex hopes to see two more church plants by 2020. He advocates a teamwork approach to church multiplication and ministry—unusual in Filipino culture, where a church normally has just one pastor. Today, Rolex is mentoring five pastors at Life Reach.

He says, “I can be their coach, but I can also be their playing coach because I involve myself.”

In the end, Rolex says ministry is about creating opportunities and transforming lives. “I see the Gospel of the Lord as holistic,” he explains. “I think the Gospel, if you truly have it, penetrates the transformation of society.”

Thank you for your faithful support of Langham Partnership which helps to multiply trained leaders like Rolex who build bridges between God’s Word and the world around them.

Please pray for Rolex, as he seeks to plan to more churches by next year. Pray that the Gospel will penetrate the lives of displaced families in the Philippines.

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