Our story

Called to the Philippines

10620049_10154876424170157_7881839711633687528_o (1)Ashley and Paula were married in 1985 and have 5 children (one of which has passed away) and 8 grandchildren. They have been a part of the family at Centro Church, Ipswich QLD Australia, since 1996. Ashley went on his first mission trip to the Philippines in 1995 and by 1997 both Ashley & Paula knew they were called to the Philippines as full time missionaries. They both had been on many short term trips to the Philippines since that time. Although they knew in 1997 that they were to go to the Philippines full time, it was not until 2012 when all the doors that had been tightly closed began to miraculously open.

Their passion and a love for the Filipino people was very evident to those around them. They had a deep desire to empower those who have been marginalised & outcast by economic, physical and social circumstances, to transform their own communities through hope in Jesus. Ashley & Paula are both credentialed Pastors with Australian Christian Churches (formerly Assemblies of God in Australia) and their mission sending organisation is ACCI Missions & Relief, Melbourne Australia.

Ashley & Paula first left for the full time mission field in the Philippines in July 2014. Sadly after a very tragic set of circumstances Ashley passed away on the mission field on the 6th January 2015. He had unfortunately been misdiagnosed with Pneumonia & Tuberculosis. On returning his body to Australia his family were able to have an autopsy performed on Ashley. This revealed that he in fact had Cancer throughout much of his body.

After Ashley’s death Paula returned to Australia on extended leave with her family. She spent the time healing and seeking God for what He would have her do next. The vision and the love for the Filipino people continued to burn like a fire in her belly and she felt God’s call to continue the work that she and Ashley started in the Philippines. On seeking God, the council of friends and ACCI Missions & Relief (Paula’s mission organisation) she decided to return to the Mission field in the Philippines.

Ashley and Paula Varga have served here in Centro Church for the best part of 18 years. Their call to the Philippines has been with them during all that time. Their heart has always been to serve the vision of the house and get on with the work of the ministry, which they have done with a high level of fruitfulness. The conclusion is that it is now time to go and relocate to the Philippines. We here at Centro Church endorse this decision and will support it in every way possible.
Pastor John Hunt (ACC QLD State President) | Centro Church | Ipswich QLD Australia
Growing up Dad and Mum’s burden for the Philippines only grew stronger the older I got. When I think back, God had also placed a burden in their hearts for the least of these. It’s this burden that has driven them to love. Love the Philippines, love on the poor, the forgotten and the hurting. They were putting into practice what they would be involved with in the Philippines long before they knew they were going. I remember from a little girl till now and all the way in-between Dad and Mum were always helping and reaching out to people that nobody else could be bothered with, people who everyone else had forgotten about and people that everyone else wanted nothing to do with. Whether it was the drunken lady across the road that scared me because as a little girl I thought she looked like a witch. Or the family that couldn’t afford food that they had heard about. Or the young man addicted to drugs that smelt. It didn’t matter – they loved them. For many people, they think that missionaries have to be preaching the gospel 24/7 but it’s not the case. It’s about loving. Loving unconditionally, loving with no boundaries, loving til it hurts, plus more and then expecting nothing in return. That’s the gospel. That’s what they have been doing my whole life and will be continuing to do once they step into the place God has been preparing them for.
Emma Cumming (daughter of Ashley & Paula) | Australia
Ashley and Paula are faithful followers of Christ who have sown greatly into their own local church. They have had it on their hearts for many years to serve the cause of Christ in the Philippines. Now that the doors of opportunity have opened for them both, I highly recommend pastors and churches in our ACC movement to support them in their journey. Their ministry is vibrant, purpose filled and kingdom focussed and we will see great fruit from their work!
Pastor Jeremy Greening | Vineyard Christian Church | Stanthorpe QLD Australia
Ashley & Paula are a passionate, fun-loving couple who are teachable, submissive and dedicated to the Cause of the Gospel.They are passionate about preaching the whole Gospel to the whole man and are committed to whatever it takes to achieve the calling God has placed on their lives. In the time we have known them we have found them to be people of integrity as well as being very caring for others. Their willingness to serve another in their initial time in the Philippines shows their capacity for servanthood and the love they have for the underprivileged people they will be ministering to.
Pastors Patrick & Gina Deller | Brisbane Valley Christian Church | Esk QLD Australia
We have known Ashley and Paula for 5 years. They are a great couple with a heart for God and a passion for soul winning. We are convinced that a special grace and calling of God is upon their life and they have a sincere passion for people and they love genuinely. Over the last many years the Lord has been preparing them for the mission field and they have been actively involved in short term mission trips. We believe God has equipped and commissioned them for full time mission work in the Philippines. They have been sent to the unreached, to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of prison to them that are bound in the Philippines. We trust that the Lord who has called them will be faithful to perfect that which he has started in them.
Dr Michael Ifesanwo | MBChB, FRACGP, DFM, DSCM, DCH, DIP DERM, DIP HIV MGT | Bukky Ifesanwo (Wife)