By JANETTE JEFFRESS
Forty-three-year-old John Quinlin has been serving a mission in the Philippines for 20 years, and she plans to continue serving.
Quinlin, a Baptist missionary, said the Independent Baptist Church views missionary work as a lifetime occupation.
“We spend our lives in the field where we are called to go,” he said.
Quinlin said his religion believes members receive personal revelation as to where and when to serve a mission.
“It doesn’t matter where missionaries go, because they go to the place where the Lord leads them,” he said.
His exposure to missionary work began when he was a young child. During a recent Independent Baptist church service, he recounted his experiences when his parents took him with them as they went on a mission to the Philippines.
Although his parents served a 33-year mission beginning in 1958, Quinlin returned to the United States in 1978 to receive training for his own mission. Because he grew up in a missionary home, he said he was accepted early to start on his own mission to the Philippines.
“I was 23 when I was approved for my own mission. The age limit is usually 25, but since I had a lot of experience, I was able to go early,” he said.
Unlike LDS missionaries, Baptist missionaries are usually married before they are accepted to serve, and they take their families with them; Quinlin has a wife and three children who are with him in the Philippines.
The Independent Baptist Church formerly did not accept single men, especially in Quinlin’s area, because they could be distracted. Many Filipino women wanted to marry an American so they ccould go to the U.S., Quinlin said. Now, however, the policy has changed, and the church accepts a few single men, he said.
Before the missionaries leave the U.S., they receive some training at a Bible college and then serve an internship in the U.S.
The internship lasts one year and may include starting a branch of the Independent Baptist Church, being a pastor in an established church or working as an assistant to a pastor, Quinlin said.
“I worked in a church as an assistant pastor where I had some opportunities to preach sermons and conduct some missionary activities before I went to the Philippines,” he said.
During the internship, prospective missionaries need to develop contacts who can help them to finance their efforts overseas, Quinlin said.
As a missionary, he has had to travel around the U.S. every fifth year and ask for contributions to fund his mission. The usual cycle for a Baptist missionary is four years in the field and then one year in the U.S. raising funds for the mission program.
“Even though other churches don’t do this, I like it because congregations can see the missionaries and see the progress in other countries. They know that every penny they contribute is spent on the missions,” Quinlin said.
Pastor Rick Roberson, pastor of the Independent Baptist church where Quinlin spoke, said his congregation contributes $356 a month to the missions. “We think it’s a church’s responsibility to carry the gospel to countries who don’t have it,” Roberson said.
Language training is done in the country of the mission, Quinlin said. The missionaries go to school to learn the language.
Quinlin said the usual language-training schedule is studying the language in a classroom four to five hours a day, then spending another four or five hours talking with the native people.
In the Philippines, however, many people like to practice their English, making it hard to learn the language, Quinlin said.
Since 1961, both Baptist and LDS missionaries have been in the Philippines teaching the people and experiencing great success.
Lowell Leishman, former LDS president of the Philippines, Visyan Islands Mission, said Filipino LDS membership has gone from 15,000 in 1975 to over 400,000 in 1998.
In the same amount of time, three Baptist churches have been founded and built by Filipino natives, five more congregations have been started by missionaries and 30 Filipinos have become pastors or pastor’s wives, Quinlin said. The first 10 native Baptist missionaries also are starting their missions in 1998.
Quinlin has now returned to his family in the Philippines after his recent fund-raising efforts in the U.S. As Pastor Roberson said, Quinlin is a “dear brother who shares his heart with the people.”