Tragedy threatened to keep Filipino couple Raj and Dea Buo from their dream to study at a Bible college, but they knew they needed greater equipping for their work with their home churches.
Since realising their dream at SPBC, they say life will never be the same.
“We were supposed to start our studies at SPBC in 2011 but a strong typhoon hit our region and caused a devastating flood. It destroyed many houses and thousands died in the floodwater,” said the pair.
Raj and Dea had been working with a church in Cainta, which was badly affected by the typhoon.
So they put their study plans on hold, instead prioritising food distribution, relief works, and medical missions in the affected areas. It also gave them more time to prepare for the practical and financial needs of studying.
“We waited and prepared the congregation in Cainta for one more year and then in 2012 we began our studies at SPBC,” they said.
United in their desire to learn, the married duo were prompted by different motivations.
“For me, it was the desire to upgrade, sharpen the axe, to be relevant, and to learn ways to effectively work the works of Him,” said Raj.
Dea described it as her “earnest and unspoken dream” to go to a Bible College.
“I had a need to be educated in God’s word in a deeper sense. The lack of Church of Christ training schools in the Philippines for ladies ministries led me to SPBC,” she said.
It was just what they had hoped for.
“The Bible College offered the curriculum we needed for advanced biblical learning and we are grateful that we had competent and patient teachers in each subject,” they said.
“Our studies were intense, but enjoyable and engaging, and our time there stretched us, grew us, and challenged our worldview and way of thinking.”
Since returning to the Philippines, Raj and Dea have been primarily dedicated to building up and growing the Church of Christ in Pecsonville, located in a province northeast of Manila.
They say their ministry—and all aspects of their life and faith—underwent lasting changes, as a result of the three years of study that earned them both the Diploma of Advanced Biblical Studies and the Diploma of Christian Ministry.
“Our life can never be the same after our studies at SPBC,” they said.
“Our worldview has changed and grown bigger. We think and act differently.
“We experienced, were exposed to, and were immersed in things that many people may never understand—pertaining to ministry, mission, discipleship, and sharing the Good News. We are more bold now, more careful and sure of what we are teaching and more compassionate and caring to family and to others.”
In addition to the work at Peconsville, Raj and Dea have taken multiple teaching engagements with surrounding churches to speak at worship assemblies, youth fellowships, camps, seminars and lectures, even travelling to Hong Kong and Thailand to speak.
The pair have regular commitments with two nearby congregations where Raj preaches and leads in worship, and Dea supports the ladies’ and children’s ministries.
In addition, they have served in multiple M.A.R.C.H. for Christ missions (Medical Action for Relief, Counseling and Healing)—a ministry that provides free medical and dental health care to those in need.
Their roles have included helping with the shipment of medical supplies to areas in need, assisting with logistics and registration, managing devotionals, and teaching children.
Raj and Dea said their time at SPBC equipped them with both the academic and compassionate capability needed to be effective in their various ministries.
“We are thankful for the discipline developed in us in knowing the context (background, cultural, social setting, history, etc.) of the Scripture that we use in teaching and Bible studies with others,” they said.
Classes of conflict resolution, counselling, and ministry during grief and loss have also proved helpful.
“One of the things our third year supervisor Mike Austin always told us was to ‘remember the little people’. These words will always remind us to be sensitive for those who are in real need of help, encouragement, and support and to be intentional about making time for people.”
During what they describe as the “roller coaster ride” of their life as missionaries, navigating both ups and downs, Raj and Dea say they thank God for strength and His abiding presence.
“We thank Him for bringing us to places where we are needed and useful; where we can be a blessing to our family; and where we can grow in our relationship with Him,” they said.
“Looking back from the time that we finished our Bible education with SPBC, we see God faithfully working in our lives, causing all things to work together for the good of those in Christ.
“Studying there fortified our faith, transformed us, and instilled in us spiritual disciplines.”
To those considering starting a similar journey at SPBC, their message is simple: “Come and see.”