Philippines, Asia

PHI04 - ECPM - Personal Support of Ella Santos: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: March 25, 2024

Report from BHW Philippines Partnership Facilitator Following Visit 29 Feb - 3 March

Recent Events

Role with ECPM

busy ladyElla holds an official role in training church planters and as Campus Youth Coordinator with Empowered Christians in Partnership and Ministries (ECPM). At ECPM, Ella is part of the training staff and is responsible for preparing the curriculum, conducting training and retreats, and mediating conflicts among team members. She coordinates the youth campus work, preparing young people for church planting missions and helping them discover how to create a budget for mission trips. In addition to this, Ella also takes care of the administration work at ECPM, where she prepares updates and designs posters and letters. Despite some initial hesitation, Ella has found joy in her work and has been able to use her counselling skills in the youth campus work.

Ella is involved in various ministries, including seminary communications, administrative work, youth ministry, church planting, media, counselling, and church leadership. She is also employed with the Asian Theological Seminary (ATS) and is part of the communications team that helps with partnerships, fundraising, and donor relations. At her church, she is the secretary of the leaders and assists with administrative work, media training, and counselling. She previously helped with media for the youth ministry but has passed that role on to a young disciple. 

Ella studied counselling and architecture and worked as an architect for six years before joining the ministry. She teaches counselling and child development in various settings and attends seminars to improve ECPM's processes. Ella emphasized the importance of collaboration and not imposing their doctrines or culture on others. As a dynamic mission worker for church planting, Ella collaborates with different denominations to help them develop their church planting and youth programmes. 

Curriculum Development

very involvedDuring the youth campus ministry training, Ella (in pink shirt) explained the five stages young people go through. The first stage is preparation, which involves teaching the youth about God's word and spiritual gifts. The second stage is gathering information about the campus to identify the primary needs of the youth. The third stage is reaching, which involves evangelizing. The fourth stage is building, which focuses on strengthening the Bible study groups. Finally, the fifth stage is channelling with the local church and developing a good youth ministry programme. This stage also involves follow-up, which consists of graduating and evangelizing. Ella has also produced four workbooks that compress the five stages and has trained young people committed to church planting. 

ECPM Board

The ECPM team has a group of board members who are friends and supporters. According to Ella, these individuals help the team teach and enhance ECPM. There are eight members on the board. Although some are no longer active, five members remain committed and involved. As ECPM reaches different cultures and communities, the board selects individuals to join their team. Even though the board members do not meet frequently, they remain active in teaching and aiding church planters. 

Celebrating 20 Years of Church Planting

Ella organized a gathering in November 2023 to celebrate 20 years of church planting in Palawan. Over 65 church planters were mentored for two days, and they were treated to various services, including haircuts, manicures, pedicures, and massages, to show appreciation for their work.  

Ella asked local residents to offer pedicures and manicures and invited blind individuals to give massages. Ella's husband set up a coffee bar where the church planters could order different types of coffee to enjoy. The celebration also involved a special dinner and a testimony-sharing session.  

The event aimed to build community and foster relationships between church planters of different denominations, and it was a great success. Church planters from various regions had the opportunity to meet and network, and they were happy to have the chance to connect and encouraged to visit each other in their respective locations. 



good teamElla shared her love for her job, which keeps her young and active while allowing her to interact with people from diverse cultures. She also spoke about her pandemic experience, which helped her realize the significance of balancing work and personal life. She emphasized the importance of listening to and learning from older individuals.

Ella's husband (on left) is also involved in ministry work as a board member of ECPM. He joined through the youth mission’s engagement programme and occasionally teaches. Ella and her husband make it a point to attend events together to nurture their relationship. Her husband is also a deacon in their church, and their church leaders commend her husband and Ella as a deacon's wife in ministry. 

Ella and her husband met in the youth ministry and are passionate about serving the Lord. They currently reside in Quezon City, near Manila, and travel to their church in Bulacan. Ella's husband is a licensed nurse who works for an insurance company. He loves coffee and dreams of planting coffee trees to raise support for the ministry, which he hopes will provide a source of income. Ella and her husband pray for high-altitude land to grow coffee, which they believe will produce good-quality coffee. They are thankful for their income sources, the support provided by ECPM for their ministry, and Ella's work with ATS.


Current Issues and Challenges

Personal Challenges 

Ella spoke about her experiences with campus work and youth training. She shared some difficulties she faced when some teams dissolved, and young leaders suddenly changed their minds about ministry. Despite these challenges, Ella did not quit and found a way to continue the youth training work. She developed a curriculum for the training based on the core values of ECPM and other courses she attended. She also received encouragement and support from her mentors and church leaders. 

Ella also mentioned that personal finances were a challenge and that she wanted to devote herself to full-time ministry. However, despite these challenges, she remains faithful to God's plan and believes that the Lord is her provider. Ella had considered giving up her role in the seminary to focus on the ministry, but the Lord showed her that His will was happening, not hers. Ella also expressed concerns about retirement and aging, but she rests on the assurance that the Lord will take care of her.

Organisational Challenges

During the pandemic, the biggest challenge for ECPM was teaching people how to use technology such as Zoom and Messenger on laptops since they were unfamiliar with it. ECPM had to develop new strategies and innovative ideas to overcome these challenges. Ella also highlighted that preparing for the lessons took a lot of time, and they needed to keep innovating to keep up with the changing environment. Finally, a partner funded a new projector to improve the quality of visual aids during lessons. 

Currently, ECPM needs help raising supporters from the Philippines since they have to compete with other organisations for funds. They are relying on God's blessings to meet their daily needs. ECPM is also praying to increase support for church planters as the cost of living has increased due to inflation. They continue to maintain five church planting teams at a time and rely on the Lord's guidance to help them navigate these challenges.



Ella has a bright personality and is very good up the front leading and teaching. She has a lovely sense of humour, is fun and is very likeable. She is an integral part of the team, in fact I would say, she is the one that shapes it most, largely because of her theological background. It is great that her husband is involved as well and that they go together on the training trips.