God is indeed an overwhelming God. Everything He does just surpasses finite human capabilities and comprehension. His ways, not totally mysterious to those who know Him through His Word, defy man’s imaginations and expectations – they are past finding out! He is truly the God of impossibilities, Who alone turns men’s hearts, set up and brings down kings and their dominions. Nothing can stop Him from choosing and blessing whom He will and will not.
Having established that, it becomes easier to understand how in 1975 a church started by a Filipino, grown and enriched of the Filipino by the richness of their liberality and love for God and His Word came to being, what God did to, for and through the small work started in a nearly derelict apartment completely confounds everyone who knew how the METROPOLITAN BIBLE BAPTIST CHURCH OF STA. ANA, MANILA came into existence. Her human “founder,” a young man who would do anything in his life at his own sweet time, and attempted to escape God’s calling is himself a great study of character. DR. BIENVENIDO MIRANDO ABANTE, JR. defied traditional church growth strategies and methods, therefore his maverick ways incurred not so many die-hard cheerers, but a lot of mockers and jeerers, sadly. He did not follow “conventional norms” of his time to make his church – the MBBE – to grow into what it has become today, 37 years after. He did not look for greener pastures to realize his vision for Church, but instead put his wholehearted trust in God who called him to the ministry. Pastor Benny as he is fondly called by fellow Pastors just believed God, no ifs and buts, and no more turning back. And this is where that unshakable trust has led the MBBE to where she is now. God has indeed “enlarged her coasts” from that little corner in Sta. Ana. MBBC has started multiple growing Congregations and Care Stations in and out of Metro Manila. She also has at least 20 Congregations in the Middle East and other parts of the globe and for the love of God and His Work, the church is supporting hundreds of local and foreign missions with an average of 10million pesos pegged for her annual missions giving. A church steered and taught to be modest in all her ways but liberal in giving, MBBE has for many years blazed the trail in the area of cheerful giving, faithfully and fearlessly mentored by her Senior Pastor who has been rightly dubbed the “Father of Cheerful Giving.” Straight from the inexhaustible treasures of God’s Word, MBBE is known not only as a soul-winning church, but also a cheerful giving church, molded and trained how to truthfully and generously give to God and His work. From that, MBBC has also been marvelously blessed by the Lord with at least 250M worth of properties, which include, but are not limited to, prime real estate and church buildings.
Truly, MBBE has for many years made dedicated service as her heartbeat, instep with her Senior Pastor who has passionately served the Lord, in season and out of season, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, through deepest valleys and high mountains. Such unswerving commitment springs out of Bible truth, as the Church is deemed to be the Bride of Christ. MBBE has taken that role on seriously and consistently, and has as well obediently marched on through the years to the bidding of her Master, Who in all power commanded the Church to “go and preach the Gospel.” Thus, MBBE has stood her ground amidst the assaults of Hell, and it cannot prevail against His called out people who closely follow their Lord and Savior.
Many things have indeed happened to MBBE since that fateful day in 1975, when Pastor Abante, then a 24-year old one-track minded young man finally gave his life to the Lord to heed his call to establish His Church right in the heart of the country’s capital, Manila. The rustic and historic town of Sta. Ana, home to the oldest churches of other denominations saw the birth and the birth pains of a pioneering work started and led by this doggedly determined young man, who was no novice to the ins and outs of the ministry, as he grew up in the biblical culture of unquestioning faith in God and hard work while still in his tender age. His training from a very strict disciplinarian-father who was one of the earliest Baptist converts in the 1940’s bore its fruits when he began to realize a dream that he himself never imagined to realize in his lifetime. And God has blessed his servant to even reach the halls of power to make His voice heard amidst the din and dirt of traditional politics. The Lord has also allowed MBBE to reach out to her neighbors and showed what it means to be believers of the Lord. For many years up to the present, she has been actively engaged in humanitarian services like medical missions, feeding programs, relief and rescue operations.
What began as a moment of realization in the young Abante’s life become an amazing turnaround for this former ambitious, goal-driven young man who once dreamed of becoming a highly sought after lawyer. MBBE’s mentor and human founder testifies to his burden-turned-to-blessing story that no one can dispute. Starting with almost nothing in a work where he felt many has turned their backs against him, he doggedly labored, geared with a renewed vigor for the work, and a generous dose of faith in God. On September 22, 1975, he surrendered his life full-time for the pastoral ministry without any promise of support from anyone. But the Lord never failed his servant ever since. That day, the Bible Baptist Mission in Sta. Ana, Manila also saw her first light of day.
The Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church of Sta. Ana officially held its first Sunday services at 2444 La Torre Street inside a nearly derelict apartment. Ninety-six (96) people, including twenty-four (24) adults attended that first ever Sunday service in the infantile mission. Looking at the vast MBBE ministries at present, it seems incredible that it all started in an almost derelict apartment with a handful youthful believers.
Seven of these trusted Christ as their Savior, while four were baptized the same day. A non-stop string of evangelistic gatherings were conducted after, and God blessed with many people coming in and getting saved. This paved the way for a more spacious place of worship. On December 5, 1975, the Lord gave the mission a benefactor by the name of Missionary Art Sims, who did not hesitate to pour in good money to buy a property and started construction of the church building right away.
On July 5, 1976, less than a year after the work was started, a groundbreaking celebration was held and was witnessed by more than 200 people. As the mission house burst to the seams, the charter members eagerly worked and gave to transfer to the new building. On December 5, 1976, the new edifice, called by the Pastor “The Monument of God’s Grace,” was joyously dedicated to the Lord.
Year after year, members, community folks and fellowship churches around the metropolis and the country witnessed the phenomenal growth of the MBBC ministries. She has not only grown numerically but spiritually, more so in the area of cheerful giving for which her Undershepherd has been famous for as the Father of First Fruits Giving. She has, through the able leadership of Pastor Abante, consistently met, yet survived through many unwarranted criticism and skepticism in almost all the innovations the Pastor has initiated to chart the growth of MBBC to even greater heights. His exemplary stewardship of God’s finances, his God-given talents and administrative abilities, however, cannot be denied, as the Church dramatically grew. People began to see the big difference in his vibrant and thriving ministry. Though he suffered alienation and persecution among his peers and seniors in the ministry due to his maverick ways, Pastor Abante, however never lost his compassion for fellow workers and ministries that he believes can thrive even without any foreign support. So much so that he has always been wiling to share the secrets that he has unlocked through his tireless study of God’s Word, especially in the area of being blessed financially. MBBE exemplified the astonishing results of applying the awesome truth of Firstfruits giving. From an initial Firstfruits offering of Ph11,157.31 in 1979, it has never gone down as the years passed. In 2010, it has even reached the 21 million-mark, enabling the church to purchase a pricey 4-storey ancestral house of a famous historical figure in Sta. Ana. In 2011 and 2012 respectively, MBBE gave 24.7M and 31.7M in her Firstfruits Offerings.
At the close of 1997, MBBC dedicated BMA Tower 1, a five-storey building with an auditorium that can sit about 1,000 people. Not bad for a work that was initially housed in a rented, dilapidated bungalow, and presently worth more than 100 million-peso in properties and buildings. Four years ago, BMA Tower 2 fronting Sta. Ana Rotunda was dedicated after years of unceasing prayers and generous giving of God’s people. Truly, “greater works” are possible when one has unwavering faith in the One who has promised, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20).
The incredible annals of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist Ekklesia (MBBE) cannot at all be written without seeing God’s amazing grace all over it! The young maverick who answered God’s call and set his face to trek that rough and lonely road of service has never had any tinge of regret after that unforgettable face-to-face with his Savior. The “unashamed” Gospel preacher enjoys and continues to bask in the rare privilege of seeing that heavy burden in his heart 37 years ago turned into showcases of God’s unimaginable blessings. And as her Pastor, MBBE will remain to be a Church of the Unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “for it is the power of God unto salvation.”