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Philippine Bible Seminars Seek Donations

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As part of his outreach to the Philippines, missionary Doug Nichols is requesting $19 donations to provide Life Application Study Bibles—and seminars on how to use them—to 41,000 untrained and undertrained pastors in the country.

It’s common for fundraising appeals—even those for worthy causes—to be stingy on details some donors may wish to know before deciding to contribute. MinistryWatch sought out the details in this instance.

Nichols, a missionary under the umbrella of Commission to Every Nation (CTEN), explained to MinistryWatch that the $19 donation would be broken down into parts: $13 to purchase and ship a Life Application Study Bible (LASB) and $6 to Christian Growth Ministries, the group that developed the LASB seminars, to help cover expenses for the pastors teaching the half-day seminars, such as travel, rental costs, and food.

The seminar lasts anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, and the pastors only receive the LASB after attending, Nichols explained. The pastors are taught “how to use the concordance, the study notes, the dictionary, and references in their personal study of the Word, for teaching, and preaching.” He has been helping host LASB seminars in the Philippines for approximately 15 years.

He said the pastors love and value the bibles so much they often cry with joy, hold the Bible to their chest, smell the Bible, turn the pages slowly, and look up their favorite verse. The usual attendance at these seminars is between 30 and 60 pastors.

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The number of untrained and undertrained pastors is an estimate reached by several ministries geared to pastors in the Philippines, Nichols said. The country has over 105 million people.

“[The number] is probably higher now as there have been more little churches established and pastored by the most mature Christian in the assembly, but who is poor and not trained,” Nichols explained.

“An exact number is hard to come by,” he continued. “For example, a pastor we work with in north Philippines (who also works with needy pastors) constantly meets needy poor pastors in villages who have no training at all. He writes of 5 there, another 10 he met last week, then 6 who showed up at his place for emergency food during the pandemic. Some of these pastors only have a New Testament.”

CTEN is the interdenominational mission organization that supports Nichols by helping with fundraising, newsletters, and pastoral care.

Bill Barthelemy, executive director of CTEN, explained the nonprofit provides oversight of the ministry to its missionaries by conducting field visits to check on the health and work of the missionaries.

“It helps the missionaries be accountable. It also helps reassure donors of the work being done,” Barthelemy told MinistryWatch. He added that missionaries submit annual reports to CTEN outlining how they use the funds they’ve received.

But when we asked for more details about the LASB seminar donations sought by Nichols, CTEN was unable to provide answers and directed us to Nichols himself.

Because of IRS regulations, donors can designate a preference for donations they submit and CTEN will consider them, but sole discretion for the use of funds must remain with the leadership of CTEN, Barthelemy added.

Nichols indicated that CTEN uses 7 percent of funds donated to him for administrative costs.

CTEN asks each missionary to prayerfully consider what percentage it wants to give back to the organization for the services it provides, Barthelemy mentioned, adding that CTEN is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.