Ten years ago a bomb planted at a Philippine airport by a Muslim rebel group killed 23 people. One of the dead was Bill Hyde, a Southern Baptist missionary.
It’s ironic that Hyde, 59, died at the little airport in Davao City where he’d walked countless times — a place considered safe. He had made a habit of going into some of the most dangerous places in the Philippines. Places where you could get kidnapped, shot at, or worse, especially if you were a foreigner. He’d just returned from such a place that day.
The key to his church-planting strategy was simple: like the Apostle Paul, he multiplied himself in other faithful men, who could in turn multiply themselves in others. He started by training a core group of seven Filipino men committed to church planting. As they became trainers, the circle widened into a network of hundreds.
He never went anywhere alone. He always took at least one young Filipino or missionary — and usually as many as he could pack into his vehicle — on his trips into the hinterlands. He trained Filipinos to start churches, then let them take the lead while he observed and encouraged. Most important, he flatly refused to do anything in ministry leadership that Filipino believers could do themselves.
One of those Filipino men was Eddie Palingcod, a member of Hyde’s original core group. Palingcod became the leading Baptist church-planting trainer for an entire province in the Philippines.
Hyde’s approach departed from the traditional idea of starting one church at a time. “He said to me, ‘Eddie, you need to train others to plant churches. It’s not that you’re doing the wrong thing now, but you need to multiply,’” Palingcod recalled after Hyde’s death. “It was hard for me to understand at first, but when I applied it, I got excited.
“Even though he is now living in heaven,” said Palingcod, “I told Bill, ‘It works!’”
Today Hyde’s legacy lives on in the hundreds of churches started through his ministry of multiplication. In the thousands of Filipinos won to Christ. In the ongoing ministries of missionaries he mentored and encouraged. In the ministry of his life partner, Lyn, who courageously returned to the Philippines in early 2004 and continued her work until retiring in 2009. In the lives of his sons, who followed in his mission footsteps.
Perhaps most of all, it lives on in the hundreds of Filipino men like Eddie Palingcod, who continue to live out the passion for church multiplying Hyde instilled in them.