Spotlight on Filipino Pastor and Church Planter Jake Bolotano

Jake Bolotano is a church planter and the pastor of Filipino-American Friendship Ministry of Christ Church in Columbia. He also works with ethnic pastors and churches around the state through the SC Baptist Convention. This humble leader is a special member of the Columbia Metro Family of Churches, a network where he is working to build relationships to collaborate in sharing the life-giving hope of the gospel.

“God is moving people so they can hear the gospel. It’s no accident that Filipino immigrants are coming to Columbia – it’s because God want them to know Him, to hear the gospel, and be saved,” Bolotano says.

“We are honored to have a leader of Jake’s caliber in our area,” says Associational Missions Strategist Jamie Rogers. “He is faithfully serving God’s kingdom, attends our monthly pastors’ gatherings, and currently is working with Timothy Murr at Hope Church with an outreach opportunity there on Thursdays.”

Bolotano reports significant growth through his church “because of an influx of teachers and nurses and their families” throughout the Midlands, and notes the teachers are serving in Richland School Districts One and Two. Bolotano has organized six small group Bible studies to better reach the Filipino community, including one created just for teachers. He finds this is an “effective approach to growing our church because small groups offer a more relaxed and personalized environment where Filipinos can communicate and share their feelings.” He is also in the process of planting a church in the Lexington area from one of these small groups.

Bolotano works closely with First Baptist Internationals Minister Ryan Dupree, who also serves as the multiethnic ministry specialist with the SC Baptist Convention. The two stay connected to multiethnic pastors around the state with Bolotano occasionally preaching in these churches and offering pastors personal encouragement. At a recent ethnic pastors’ retreat, Dupree said Bolotano shared the evangelism method he uses for reaching Filipino immigrants so they might use it in their contexts as well.

“Jake does a very good job of preaching, teaching, and engaging the Filipino community, and always offers help and services to other ethnic churches that need help,” Dupree says, adding he’s also “raising up a new leader for the Lexington church plant, so he’s a great mentor and coach in that way. Jake has a heart for seeing his church multiply and for planting Filipino churches around the state, including in Greenville and Charleston.”

Bolotano says Filipino immigrants are arriving in the United States longing for relationships, and God is using this need to make it easy to create connections that lead to the opportunity to share the gospel. He welcomes CMBA churches to partner with ethnic pastors and churches to better reach these people groups living in the greater Columbia area. He also reminds church leaders that ethnic pastors long for encouragement and opportunities to build personal relationships, too.

“Ethnic pastors struggle under the same concerns and long for partners who are willing and able to help, and teach us new skills and adaptations to things like technology that we need to be more effective in ministering to our people,” Bolotano says. “A phone call or a personal touch means so much to ethnic pastors.”

Another way CMBA churches can partner with sister ethnic churches is to offer facilities as places for these groups to fellowship. According to Bolotano, because of work schedules, “Filipinos need to gather on the weekends. They love to play basketball and other games, so we want to offer things like picnics and karaoke to invite immigrants to come and meet and then share the gospel with them.”

Contact Ryan Dupree at 803.467.0122 if your church is interested in partnering with Bolotano’s church or other local ethnic churches and is open to offering space in the church facility for them to meet.

About the author 

Julia Bell