A PLACE TO LOVE
Agape Baptist Church
AND BE LOVED
HISTORY OF AGAPE BAPTIST CHURCH
ABC had a humble beginning. She was called then, Filipino Christian Fellowship. Eva had a vision about starting a Bible study among Filipinos worshiping at Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church. She shared her burden with Bro. Jun Diongzon, a deacon of the Church. Together with six ladies, namely: Carol, Betty, Delia, Andressa, Eva and Emilia, they meet with Rev. Cecil Mahendranath who was the interim pastor at that time and discussed the possibility of starting a fellowship among internationals. It was in January 21, 1991 that the group met once a month on a Sunday afternoon for fellowship, singing, prayer, sharing of testimonies and worship.
As the Lord placed in their hearts the burden and vision of reaching Filipinos and internationals with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, some Filipino Christians heard about the on-going activity and joined the group.
But the Lord who is the Giver of life and the source of all blessings had other plans for their leader, Bro. Jun Diongzon. He went “home” to be with the Lord on July 1991. Although the group felt a deep sense of loss, they continued to fellowship with each other knowing that God will never leave them. The Lord in His time called Rev. James C. Martinez to continue the ministry Bro.Jun started.
Pastor James C. Martinez has been the pastor of Agape Baptist Church since 1991. Pastor James was ordained in 1981 at Clark Field Baptist Church in Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines. Clark Field BC is where Pastor James came to know the Lord as Savior & Lord in 1974 and where he also met his wife, Virgie. Pastor James, Virgie, their two daughters, Javee & Verily, migrated to the USA in 1988. In 1998, the family welcomed an addition to their family, a son, Marc Ian.
The group faithfully ministered to each other and reached out to lost souls through Bible study, tract distribution, visitation and fulfilling the “Great Commission” of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord knows the hearts and desires of His children. He knows who are faithful, available and willing to learn of His ways and to be used by Him. God made them instruments to bring others to His fold.
The Fellowship continued to grow. Many became members of WABC and became involved in the different ministries of the Church. As spiritual need grew, it became evident for the group to meet every Sunday. They saw God’s work in their midst and realized that discipleship of members for future leadership was eminent for greater task.
On February 1992, the Filipino Christian Fellowship celebrated its first anniversary with the theme “Press on Toward the Mark.” Indeed, the theme became the goal to which the group was striving for. The second anniversary was on January 16, 1993. The theme was “We Are More Than Conquerors” (Romans 9:37).
In 1993 WABC acknowledged the group as a mission congregation of the Church. The name of the group was changed to Filipino International Baptist Mission with a goal to become the first Filipino-International church in Washington, D.C. The Mission elected its first council composing of: a) secretary & asst. secretary; b. treasurer; c) funds counter; d) outreach & visitation; e) hospitality; f) Sunday school; committees for program/music & prayer warrior. Regular activities/program continued with an approved budget for 1992-1993. On January 3, 1998, FIBM was constituted as Church and changed its name to Agape Baptist Church. The theme for the constituting service was “No Greater Love” (John 15:13).
Pastor James Martinez announced his retirement from full-time ministry on September 10, 2017 with his last day of pulpit ministry on December 31, 2017. Pastor James, along with Sis. Virgie, served Agape for 26 years and we are blessed that they have been faithful to the call. They continue to stay in the Washington, DC area and are still a part of the Agape community.