Rev. Dr. Nestor Bunda was born and lived much of his life in the Philippines. Influenced by the Catholic teachings practiced by his family, he explored becoming a Catholic priest, but was unable to pursue this due to lack of financial support.
It was while Nestor was completing a high school work-study program at the Filamer Christian Institute in the Philippines (established by former IM Global Servants Rev. Joseph and Effie Robbins in 1904, now Filamer Christian University) that he accepted Christ as his Savior. Soon, he became an active member, serving as a Sunday school teacher, singing in the choir, and serving in the youth program of the Capiz Evangelical Church.
To pay for his college expenses at the Institute, Nestor worked as a nurses’ aid at Emmanuel Hospital (started by former IM Global Servant Dr. Peter Lerrigo in 1903). There he learned basic hygiene, health, and healing.
While a college student, Nestor attended a seminar sponsored by the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC). As he listened to IM Global Servant Conrad Browne, founder of the Center for Education and Research (CER), he was impressed by the style of Conrad’s teaching, his understanding of the meaning of developing community, and his wisdom on how people can be organized to solve their own problems. Little did Nestor know that someday he would become the director of CER.
Nestor completed his bachelor’s degree and received a leadership award from the Institute. He worked at the government’s Commission on Population in the Philippines, but his desire to study for the priesthood did not leave him. A friend encouraged him to apply to the College of Theology at Central Philippine University (CPU), founded as Jaro Industrial School and headed by IM Global Servant William Valentine in 1905. With a full scholarship provided by Conrad Browne, he left a high-paying government job to study at this college. “I came to know Jesus more and more every day,” Nestor says. “I committed myself to the mission of Christ, particularly God’s mission as stated in Luke 4:18-19: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’”
Nestor served as a pastor and worked at CER, where he ministered to poor farmers in rural areas and workers in the city slums. This, combined with his work in the Institute of Religion and Culture, helped him to integrate faith with justice, peace, and the fullness of life.
After twelve years in this ministry, Nestor got a full scholarship from Missionsakademie and enrolled at the University of Hamburg, Germany, to study for a doctoral degree in theology. “My studies in Germany introduced me to the Jesus who is the multilingual, multireligious, and multicultural Savior,” Nestor explains. He returned to the Philippines to teach and mentor students at the College of Theology at Central Philippine University, Filamer Christian University, Convention Baptist Bible College, and North Negros Baptist Bible College. Many of those students are now leaders in the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.
After six years of teaching, Nestor studied clinical pastoral education (CPE) at Baylor University Medical Center. He then spent sixteen years at the Center, serving as a mentor and board-certified spiritual care provider. His ministry of mentoring chaplains for board certification and providing spiritual support to the sick, dying, and grieving drew him even closer to God.
As Nestor prepares to return to the Philippines as an IM global servant, he will be working to generate resources for scholarships and partnerships that will equip disciples of Christ to flourish in ministry. He will develop a team-teaching program to mentor pastors and laypersons called to the ministry. This will include mentoring a small group of spiritual care providers toward professional board certification for hospital chaplaincy.
“International Ministries is very pleased to welcome Rev. Dr. Nestor Bunda as a global servant,” says IM Mission Mobilization Director Rev. Dr. Rodney Ragwan. “We are confident that many will be blessed by someone with such a rich lived experience, academic background, skills, and his strong faith in God. It has been a pleasure discerning with Dr. Bunda.”
“I first met Rev. Dr. Bunda through the introduction of a mutual friend,” says IM Area Director for Southeast Asia and Japan Rev. Leslie Turley. “At that time, he was in the discernment process as he sought God’s will for service. As we talked, I recognized that his roots with IM global servants who served in the Philippines and his experiences with CPBC, our partner organization, were deep. Ministry with IM as an IM global servant to the Philippines seemed to be a natural outcome of his many years of experience and service. As I reflect back on his past work there, I look forward to seeing the work God will have in store for him in the future.”
“Nestor is from a full circle of God’s mission ‘from everywhere to everyone.’ It is such a blessing to know of his rich spiritual heritage and community with many other faithful IM servants in the Philippines, and now we are glad to be able to endorse him as an IM global servant,” says IM Executive Director/CEO Rev. Sharon Koh.