Marie and I went with Lesley and Peter to the Philippines for 4 weeks in July and August. We worked with International Teams – who work in many different countries round the world.
The local project in Manila is called IT Tender which is made up of 6 local Philippinos and led by a Canadian. They have a heart to share Jesus and bring education to the very poorest communities who live in shanty towns in Manila. We joined in with their work with preschool children and older children – IT Tender seek to equip them educationally – this is the only way out of the desperate poverty in which they live. 41 children are sponsored and the whole family benefits from this sponsorship.
We were taken round some of the shanty towns – very small often with the whole family living in one room. No running water or toilets – often families had to look for food on local rubbish dumps. We led nightlife for the youth – sharing songs and parables with them, and led the ladies bible study for four weeks. We also led a training day on counselling, and did some counselling sessions with most of the team. We also spent a few days in the country working with pastor Ariel and his wife Marlyn. They run feeding programmes in schools and have set up little groups of Christians in some of the country villages.
We saw at first hand the devastation that a typhoon had caused – flattening rice and destroying homes. We heard that they have recently bought a plot of land for their dream of a training centre and church. They have erected 6 posts as a foundation – and are now trying to raise money for a roof so that they can start using it for the communities they work with. So like us – they are church planting – among the rice fields of Philippines.
It was a hard trip in many ways – it was heart breaking to see so much desperate poverty, and we all struggled with the heat, sometimes sleeping on the floor, trying to cope with Manila’s noisy, crazy traffic, and each of us at different times suffering from bad tummies.
However as I reflected on the trip I am so glad I went – the people we met were so friendly and welcoming and I don’t think I will ever forget them. They have touched my heart. I also had a sense of hope for the people and sensed God working in many lives. I remember a girl from one of the poorest communities living her dream to train as a policewoman – thanks to child sponsorship. One of the mums from the Bible study started reading the Bible after we prayed with her – and another said that her husband had started working again after suffering from severe kidney problems. These mums from the Bible study – all came from a very poor area – yet they had such pride and hope for their children. They made us flowers and wrote personal cards when we left – I will never forget these precious Christian mummies.
While in the country we stayed at a Christian conference centre – lots of pastors being trained in church planting – a sense of hope for the whole country as they go off to share Jesus with people all over the Philippines.
We worked with a dynamic team – most of whom had made great sacrifices to serve God among the poor.
I have memories of lovely people full of warmth, love and generosity who love Jesus and are serving Him – and a sense of real hope in the face of great poverty in a very fragile country. Please pray for the work of IT Tender among the poor in Manila and for Pastor Ariel and Marlyn who work with the poor in the villages– and also for the country – which faces typhoons, tornedos, active volcanoes in parts of the country, flooding during the rainy season – and the threat of a big earthquake which is forecast to hit the centre of Manila sometime this year.
Thanks you so much for your prayers for us – I had a sense of real peace – even in the crazy traffic – normally I would have been terrified! I would love to go back one day – these people have touched my heart.
If God is stirring you about serving Him cross-culturally we want to know about it!