The Filipino and American Bible Baptist Church was founded in 1983 by a veteran Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI) missionary, Fred Null. Brother Null and his wife, Lorene, were approved in 1952. Called “one of (the) Fellowship’s outstanding pastors” by Fred Donnelson, he left for the Philippines in 1953. The next three decades’ work yielded a seminary and 52 churches in the Pacific Rim nation. Then, Brother Null’s health began to fail. He suffered a stroke. Dave Hardy of Eastland Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma recalls his first meeting with Null at a mission conference. He says “his body was half dead. He dragged a leg and had to use one hand to lift the other hand. Just watching him struggle to the pulpit was a sermon in itself.” Though he tried to continue the work and had a heart for it, he simply could not go on in the Philippines.
Pastor Hardy became an enthusiastic supporter of the Null’s work, and then, when they finally were forced to come back to the U.S., Brother Null visited with Pastor Hardy in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There he shared his burden. The stricken preacher wept as he said, “I have given my life to the Filipino people. I am called to the Filipino people. I have discovered there are 70,000 Filipinos living in San Diego. What do you think about me going there to start a church?”
Other pastors, including Pastor Bob Henson, believed in Null’s vision of a Filipino work in Southern California. Henson allowed a growing Filipino Bible study to meet in an office building in his church, the Calvary Baptist Church in National City. Soon the group outgrew the offices and relocated to Calvary’s older auditorium. Though some churches had by this time stopped supporting the missionary who was no longer a “missionary”, others increased their support allowing the Null’s to continue working full time. The church was officially organized on April 10, 1983, and Fred Null, crippled and of retirement age, was the pastor for the 50 charter members.
Pastor Larry Obero was among the early visitors to the infant church in 1982. He had been saved and later called to preach while serving in the U.S. Navy. Brother Obero was impressed to join the work and was among the 50 charter members. He remembers his impression of Fred Null, “here is a man who is crippled and half dead, yet is still preaching Jesus Christ and trying to reach Filipinos. And here I am, healthy and surrendered to preach. If God can use him, he can use me, too.”
Null began training the young Filipino for the ministry. He eventually graduated from Baptist Christian College (now Louisiana Baptist University) but his training was primarily on the job with Fred Null. Soon, Brother Obero left the military and ordained to become pastor of the Filipino Bible Baptist Church. By 1986, all pastoral duties were carried by him.
In 1992, Grace Baptist Temple of Chula Vista, founded and pastored by Brother Ken Johnson for 25 years, merged with the Filipino church. The combined congregation was called the Filipino and American Bible Baptist Church, continued in their new facility. The church grew not only spiritually but also in numbers. Through the Holy Spirit and the obedient work of the church members, souls were added to the church. Because of limited space, the church held double services on Sunday mornings in order to accommodate its members. It was evident that the church needed a bigger facility. The people prayed and asked God for a bigger place.
In May of 2003, God answered the prayer. Pastor Henson and the members of Calvary Baptist Church (where the Church originally started) offered to swap properties with the Filipino and American Bible Baptist Church. At the same time, Pastor Obero was burdened not only to seek the souls of the Filipino people but also the souls of all mankind; therefore the name was changed to BIBLE BAPTIST CHURCH. Brother Fred Null passed away in 1992, just seven weeks after losing his wife, but his work on both sides of the Pacific Ocean is still making an impact on Filipinos.