TELL Network offers online biblical instruction to people around the world so that they can tell others about Jesus.
As part of that program, WELS Multi-Language Productions (MLP), which oversees the program, partners with WELS sister churches around the world to expand its reach.
Alvien de Guzman, pastor at Law and Gospel Lutheran Church, WELS’ sister church in the Philippines, is one of those partners. He provides online monthly devotions in English called #TELLtalks for use on social media in Southeast Asia. These devotions complement the TELL program, which consists of self-study courses on the Bible leading to deeper studies with a live online instructor.
“There are many online Christian training programs that are being offered by other churches in the Philippines. I am glad that we’re able to give the people here another option, the best option, that is, since we offer the pure gospel of forgiveness and salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, based on the Scriptures alone,” says de Guzman. “Being a small mission congregation, we can’t possibly do this kind of ministry on our own.”
But he wants to take the program a step further. He is working to translate the English video-based courses into Tagalog, one of the major languages in the Philippines.
“I pray that through TELL, we will be able to establish a strong, online ministry presence in the Philippines and that through it, we’ll be able to reach a large percentage of the population that we are otherwise unable to reach due to limitations of manpower and other factors,” says de Guzman. This online presence is all the more important due to current COVID meeting restrictions in the country as well as the fact that Filipinos rank among the top ten Facebook users in the world.
The eventual goal of TELL is for its students to start churches where WELS does not have a presence—a church multiplying program. This goal also fits for de Guzman in the Philippines. “With TELL’s focus on not only teaching the Bible but also on teaching how to teach the Bible, we will also be able to address our need for more workers, like Bible teachers,” he says.
In fact, de Guzman and TELL Missionary Dan Laitinen are currently meeting with Noel, a TELL student in the Philippines who is interested in declaring fellowship. “I hope Noel will ultimately be able to make the decision to join our fellowship. He will be a huge help for us, especially in terms of reaching the unchurched around the North Luzon area, which is home to more than 10 million people,” says de Guzman. Noel also speaks another of the major languages in the Philippines—Ilocano—and may be able to help with translating Christian materials into that language.
Multi-Language Productions is currently working with eight national pastors and church leaders from Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean to develop culturally-appropriate devotions and promotion for the courses for each region. Nathan Seiltz, MLP director, says that these national church bodies also offer support and can provide a sense of belonging to students living in their area. Future goals in working with national pastors include having these men serve as mentors as well as online teachers for TELL’s students.
Volume 108, Number 12
Issue: December 2021