A Bible and a Passport: Victory at 35

A Bible and a Passport: Victory at 35

William Murrell—the eldest son of our founding pastor Steve Murrell—talks about how Victory started in the Philippines and why it continues to grow, 35 years later.

 

In June of 1984, Manila’s University Belt was flooded with thousands of students who took to the streets to protest the results of the recent parliamentary elections and to express their growing dissatisfaction with the Marcos regime. While thousands of students marched down Recto Avenue with their fists in the air and their gaze set on Malacañan Palace, a few dozen university students were huddled in the basement of Tandem Cinema, stretching out their hands toward a tattered National Geographic world map.

They were praying for their nation and the nations of the world.

Thirty-five years later, that church—which came to be known as Victory—still meets in the U-Belt (as well as numerous other locations around Metro Manila) and still prays for the nation and the nations of the world. Moreover, since 1984, Victory has planted churches in 100 other Philippine cities and forty-five nations around the world, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Iran, Laos, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. Victory is also one of the founding churches of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, a global family of churches in over eighty nations that exists to honor God by establishing Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, socially responsible churches and campus ministries in every nation.

What happened in that basement on Recto Avenue that caused such a ripple effect in the nation and the nations of the world?

First, university students heard and responded to Jesus’ radical call to discipleship. Second, those students were told that they could change the world.

Jun Escosar, one of the original disciples from 1984, recalls that the mantra in the early days of Victory was “a Bible and a passport.” Every disciple needed a Bible so that they could know God; and every disciple needed a passport so that they could obey God. They learned this lesson from Steve Murrell, the founding pastor of Victory. Steve and his wife, Deborah, had come to the Philippines in June of 1984 with a team of American university students on a one-month summer mission trip that never ended.

When the Marcos regime began to crumble in the early months of 1986, Steve and Deborah could have fled the country like many other missionaries and expatriates living in the Philippines. But that wasn’t really an option—because Deborah was eight months pregnant with me, their first son.

I was born in Makati Medical Center on April 5, 1986, just six weeks after the People Power Revolution (February 22–25) and the subsequent swearing-in of Cory Aquino as the eleventh president of the Philippines. I was born and raised in the Philippines because my parents read their Bible and got passports. And because I was raised in Victory, I have learned to do the same—not just from my parents, but from the men and women in the church who discipled me.

The first discipleship group I attended was in the mid-1990s when I was in elementary school. Every Friday night, a group of over a dozen nine- to twelve-year-olds would meet at McDonald’s in Shangri-La Mall with Pastor Rommel (Omeng) Cervantes—the kids church pastor at Victory. It was in that discipleship group that I was first challenged to read my Bible every day, and first taught how to lead a small group and to see myself not only as a disciple but also as a disciple-maker.

We were all sad the day Pastor Omeng told us that he would no longer be the kids church pastor because he felt called to be a missionary to eastern Europe and to help with a new church plant in the city of Riga, Latvia. After almost two decades of serving and pastoring in Latvia and Russia, Omeng and his family are now serving in an Every Nation congregation near London, England.

His replacement was Pastor Paolo Punzalan, who had just returned from a season as a cross-cultural missionary in St. Petersburg, Russia. Pastor Paolo continued where Pastor Omeng had left off, teaching children at Victory to love the Bible and to see themselves as disciple-makers.

When I was in high school, I joined the discipleship group of our youth pastor, Rico Ricafort. From day one, Pastor Rico instilled in us a passion for purity and a deep sense of calling. Week in and week out, every young man in that discipleship group heard two core truths: God had called us to holiness and God had called us to be leaders, not followers.

We were all sad, but not surprised, the day Pastor Rico told us that he would no longer be our youth pastor because he was moving to serve at an Every Nation church in the United States. After a year in the U.S., Pastor Rico returned to the Philippines to pastor at Victory Ortigas, while always having a heart to go to the nations.

Pastor Rico’s replacement as youth pastor was Pastor Mel Caliñgo, but it wasn’t long before Pastor Mel felt called to the mission field. Today, Mel and his wife, Tanja, are church-planters in Madrid, Spain.

Looking back on my upbringing in the Philippines and my discipleship journey at Victory, I am reminded of why that small church in the U-Belt has continued to grow in size, strength, and influence for the past thirty-five years. We’ve grown because we reach the campus, make disciples, and send them out across the nation and into the nations of the world.

Next month (October), my wife and I will be traveling to Manila with our three young children, and we are currently in the process of getting a passport for our youngest son, George, who is six months old. While getting a passport is usually seen as a mundane and tedious process, I’ve grown to see it as an exciting moment in the life of every follower of Jesus.

I am so thankful that next month George and his older siblings will have the opportunity to travel to Manila to see my home and my church and meet some of my closest friends. And I am hopeful that as my children grow up, they too will learn the lessons I learned at Victory—to love and follow Jesus, to obey His Word, and to go wherever He calls us to go.

 

William Murrell is the launch director of Every Nation Seminary. He and his wife, Rachel, currently live in Nashville, Tennessee with their three young children.

Here and Now Series

Here and Now Series

God’s plan is to bring His kingdom on earth and redeem all of creation. As we celebrate Victory’s 35th anniversary, we will talk about the kingdom of God and the part that our church plays in it—here and now.

Here are the topics for each week:

  • Week 1: The Parable of the Weeds
  • Week 2: The Parables of the Mustard Seed and Leaven
  • Week 3: The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Value
  • Week 4: The Parable of the Net

At the end of this series, we hope to have a clearer grasp of what the kingdom of God is and be inspired to persevere in our faith together.

See you at our worship services across the Philippines!

Victory Naga Celebrates First Anniversary

Victory Naga Celebrates First Anniversary

Victory Naga Victory Naga celebrated their first anniversary last October 23!

With the theme, “We Are One: Together Stronger,” our year-old church in Bicol has grown so much since it was first started, and by God’s grace, it continues to grow in number as more Bicolanos hear the preaching of God’s word.

Naga City is considered the heart of Bicol, due to its location right at the center of the province of Camarines Sur. It is the Bicol region’s center for trade and business; the hub for religious, cultural, industrial, and commercial activity. It is also home to the six largest universities in the Bicol region, making it South Luzon’s educational center. Apart from being the hub of activity, Naga is also strategically located to give way to more church plants in neighboring towns such as Iriga and Nabua.

Church planting efforts in this city began in 2002. In 2014, with the help of Victory Legazpi and through the leadership of Pastor Al Bantayan, monthly gatherings were held, which made an impact in the creation of more Victory groups. On April 2015, Pastor Jason Calara graduated from the School of Church Planting and was an answered prayer to the church. Finally, on July 2015, the Victory Naga church plant transferred to their own center at Nagaland E-Mall, holding their soft launch there.Victory Naga 2

Through the power of prayer, discipleship, and fellowship, Victory Naga held their grand launch last October 2015. This year, we witnessed their heart to engage culture and community, establish biblical foundations, equip believers to minister, and empower disciples to make more disciples, as they celebrated their first anniversary, stronger and better than before.

Let us continue to pray for open doors and open hearts, so that more disciples and leaders will be raised for God’s glory in Bicol. Together, let us intercede for this young church’s leadership team, volunteers and staff as they continue to advance God’s kingdom in this part of the Philippines.

Victory Lipa: Ten Years of God’s Faithfulness

Victory Lipa: Ten Years of God’s Faithfulness

Victory Lipa is celebrating ten years of God’s faithfulness! Join us on Sunday, September 23 for our tenth year anniversary services. We are also launching our new and improved Victory Lipa center!

Starting Small
Victory Lipa started ten years ago when leaders from Victory Los Baños and Victory Alabang spearheaded a campus outreach at De La Salle Lipa and Lipa City Colleges. This two-day outreach paved the way to a weekly Saturday youth gathering at one of the fast food establishments in the area.

Volunteers from Victory Los Baños trained and followed up many faithful attendees to prepare them to make a difference for Jesus in Lipa City. After almost a year of regular weekend gatherings, the Saturday meetings were moved to an office space at the CAP Building, a facility situated in the heart of Lipa.

Victory Lipa life group
Conducting LIFE groups in different campuses across Lipa City

No way to go but up
Growth became inevitable. While the Saturday gatherings were happening at the CAP Building, the Sunday services were held at the residence of the church’s senior pastor. When the church attendance grew to a significant level, God provided the leaders with a warehouse that soon became the Victory Lipa center. Today, the new Victory Lipa facility houses the offices of the pastors and staff, a main auditorium that seats hundreds, and a KIDS Church facility.

With the steady growth of Victory Lipa comes a bigger facility to accommodate the growth, and in turn make more disciples to reach more families, businesses, and campuses for Jesus!

Victory Lipa ONE 2 ONE 

Celebrate with us!
You are welcome to join us on Sunday, September 23, at 10 AM, 4 PM, and 6 PM. Our new Victory Lipa center is located at the JP Laurel National Highway, Mataas na Lupa, Lipa City. Invite your family and friends in Batangas to join us on this special occasion!

Victory Lipa is just one of Victory’s provincial churches all over the Philippines! We are  one church meeting in fifteen different locations in Metro Manila. See you at our services!

Victory Tarlac: Going Strong at 20!

Victory Tarlac: Going Strong at 20!

From a handful of students to a church tremendously growing in numbers, Victory Tarlac is celebrating exponential growth over the past two decades!

 

It all started when a group of church planters, led by Pastor Jun Escosar, began meeting with some students at the Diwa ng Tarlac Convention Center in November 1991. From Bible studies to rock ‘n roll seminars, the team used various strategies to build relationships with the students in the vicinity. Edwin Mejia, one of their pastors, got to know Christ during these outreach activities.

A Victory Tarlac leader, ministering to students at the school grounds

In 2009, after strategically moving its location near campuses and the main road, Victory Tarlac reached a milestone, hitting a fivefold increase in number from its founding year to the present time. Currently, the church is composed of 68 Victory groups from all walks of life–students, single professionals, and families.
Victory Tarlac single professionals at a singles event
On November 27, 2011, Victory Tarlac is commemorating 20 years of honoring God and making disciples. Entitled “Dalawang Dekadang Saya: Going Strong,” the church is taking a walk down memory lane by celebrating God’s faithfulness for the past twenty years. Together, they will recount twenty fulfilled faith goals and look to the future with much expectation.
Victory Tarlac kids, in Christmas costumes

Let’s celebrate with Victory Tarlac! If you have family or friends in the area, invite them to the anniversary celebration on Sunday, November 27, 3 PM. It will held at the Victory Tarlac Center, at Unit 3, Alison Commercial Building, Zamora St., Cutcut, Tarlac City. See you there!

 

Victory Tarlac is one of our many locations meeting in various parts of the country. Get updates on Victory via Facebook and Twitter.

Victory QC at 16 on the 17th!

Victory QC at 16 on the 17th!

Victory Quezon City is celebrating sixteen years of honoring God and making disciples. Join us on Sunday, April 17, at the Cinema 5 of Gateway Mall, Cubao. They’ll be having services at 9 AM, 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, and 5 PM. See you there!

qc-16

Visit Victory Quezon City’s website for more information, or add them up on Facebook.