Editor’s note: October is Cooperative Program Emphasis Month in the Southern Baptist Convention.
NASHVILLE (BP) – Peter Yanes began serving as the executive director of Asian American relations and mobilization for the Executive Committee in late 2019, but his Christian testimony showcases the impact of Southern Baptist missions in his life long before that.
Originally from Lingayen, Philippines, Yanes said he was always interested in religion as he grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family.
After serving as an altar boy at his local parish as a child, Yanes said his “constant desire for eternal truth” led him as an adult to study under Mormon missionaries who had come from the U.S.
But the yearlong study left him “with more questions than answers,” he said.
That all changed when he finally heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yanes said a friend invited him to a Bible study through Grace Baptist Church in Lingayen. It was there that he heard the Gospel message for the first time and would later accept Christ as his Lord and Savior.
He was discipled for a full year by one of the pastors at Grace before surrendering to a call to full-time ministry and attending seminary. His decision was not well received by his family.
“Being a devout Roman Catholic family, changing religion is a disgrace to your family and dishonors the tenets of the Catholic faith,” Yanes said. “But I went to seminary in obedience to God without my family’s blessings and support, knowing that He had called me to full-time ministry.”
After finishing his seminary education, Yanes would eventually become one of the pastors of Grace Baptist, the church where he was discipled.
Through his pastoral ministry there, all of his family members would eventually become Christians, and he was able to baptize and personally disciple many of them. Five of his immediate family members now serve in full-time ministry.
Even before Yanes ever set foot in Grace Baptist, the church reflected a legacy of the Cooperative Program and Southern Baptist missions that Yanes now carries on through his role with the Executive Committee.
Edward and Audrey Gordon were among the first Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) missionaries to arrive in the Province of Pangasinan in the Philippines in 1953.
They played a major part in planting a Baptist church in Pangasinan and many other churches throughout the Philippines.
A member of one of those churches was the Quiratman family, who were originally from Lingayen, Philippines.
The family’s oldest son, Ferdinand Quiratman, would return to his hometown of Lingayen to start a local church called Grace Baptist Church in 1972.
Ferdinand was the very one who ministered to and mentored Yanes at Grace Baptist, where he would accept Christ and then begin a life of ministry all over the world.
“I’m forever grateful that the Lord has saved me and my entire family,” Yanes said. “I was privileged to serve Him from the Philippines to Philadelphia and now here in Nashville, serving alongside our Asian churches in advancing the Gospel to our community and beyond.”
Reflecting on his personal testimony, Yanes expressed his thankfulness for the impact of the Cooperative Program as it enabled the sending of the missionaries who would start the spiritual chain reaction leading to his conversion. He encouraged Southern Baptist churches to continue to support the CP and work together to impact the world with the Gospel.
“Many of us, directly and indirectly, have benefited from the Cooperative Program,” Yanes said. “If it worked then, it’s still working now and will always work as a way to come together for Great Commission cooperation to reach all nations for Jesus Christ. Together, we can do more than apart.”