Tagbilaran is a 3rd class City in the province of Bohol, Philippines. It is the capital and a component City of the Island of Bohol. Situated some 72 kilometers south of Cebu City, Tagbilaran is the center for business, education and transportation in Bohol province. It is also famous for beautiful scenic spots and tourist attractions – especially in Panglao Island, where white sandy beaches and dive spots can be found. Generally, Boholanos (as the locals are called) are friendly and peace loving. Roman Catholicism remains their dominant belief and is still very strong among the people of Tagbilaran, Bohol.
Evangel-Tagbilaran (EFC-Tabilaran) was planted on April 29, 1997 by Pastor Bene Cabase, a young church planter sent out from Evangel Cebu. The following year he got married to Pastor Leah Abi-Abi from Davao Region. As a husband and wife team they have continued to spread God’s Word to the Boholanos in Tagbilaran, Bohol and beyond over the last 10 years.
The first 2 years of their ministry were spent laying the foundation – knowing the people, introducing themselves, promoting the church, inviting people to the service through tract distribution, house to house evangelism and conducting home bible studies. Initially, there were some who showed interest and responded positively, but they did not last. As in the parable of the sower, they were the seed that fell on the rocky ground. At first, they were very excited to come to church, but after a while, their enthusiasm was gone and so they withered.
Pastor Bene and his wife refused to give up. They continued to share and labor in love among the Boholanos. God knew their hearts and saw their labor. The following 3 to 7 years God blessed them with genuine converts. Decisions for Christ were turned into disciples of Christ. These converts went on to become committed members of Evangel Tagbilaran even up to today.
Over the next 3 years between the eighth and the tenth year of their ministry God raised up a good number of faithful members and regular tithers in Evangel Tagbilaran. They became very supportive to their Pastors in the work of God. Some of them became bible study leaders and very reliable workers. Others got involved in planting churches under the supervision of Pastor Bene, who also serves as the Section Leader covering the Bohol Island and Siquijor Island. Four new churches under EFC Tagbilaran were started in Cortes, Tiptip, Maribojoc and Dampas. Through an interest free loan from the JECPP Development Fund and JECPP Cebu Fund, Pastor Bene was able to buy a brand new Kawasaki motorbike. The vehicle really enhanced his effectiveness in the ministry of Evangel Tagbilaran and in supervising outstation churches, including the works in Tubigon and Clarin under Pastor Deo.
During this period of expansion the devil really worked very hard to disrupt the momentum of the ministry and Pastor Bene’s family. His marriage almost broke up and some members became rebellious, even spreading lies among church members. Burdened by the weight of the problems the thoughts of giving up surfaced and became very real. But God is faithful and His grace is always sufficient. He carried them through the hard times and they overcame the enemy with God’s strength.
Pastor Bene and Pastor Leah emerged from their trials stronger than ever. Their marriage was saved and secured. Their love for one another was rekindled. They also learned as pastors to be more open and transparent with their leaders and members. God, then opened their eyes and sharpened their vision. They began to share it with the leadership and the rest of the congregation. As a result, the leadership became stronger and more united. The congregation also became more supportive and committed. They felt closer to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. They really belong to one big family – God’s Family!
The blessings of God began to flow and manifest marvelously. Church tithes and offerings experienced a breakthrough. Many members began to avail themselves for God’s use in the ministry. Some got involved in the feeding ministry of the church. Others took care of the teaching ministry like Sunday School for children and adult as well as home Bible studies. Some members donated keyboards, electric fans, karaoke and sound system. The church even raised funds to acquire their own air-conditioner. God is really good!
Last April 29, 2007, Evangel Family Church Tagbilaran celebrated their 10th Church Anniversary in their new place of worship with 70 people in attendance.
Today, Pastor Bene and his dear wife Pastor Leah are supervising 13 churches. 7 works are on Bohol Island and 6 are located in Siquijor Island – a mystical island, full of witches and other supernatural phenomena. God has given to them faithful, committed workers and loyal, reliable church leaders. Even when they are busy traveling, these leaders and workers are taking good care of the different ministries in the church. They are forever grateful to God for everything He has done in their lives and ministry. The journey has not always been easy. But as they hold on to Jesus’ presence, His provision, protection and power never fail to strengthen and encourage them in good times and bad. God is unchangeable, unshakable and unstoppable. He is always seated on the throne. Truly, our labor in the Lord is never in vain. If only we will learn to persevere and never give up.