Monday, February 19, 2007

The Proclaimer

A friend of ours who has been involved with ministry in the Philippines for many years was visiting from the States. He gave me what is basically a solar powered MP3 player equipped with its own speakers. It best thing about it is that it has the entire New Testament in Tagalog on it (It is called the Proclaimer). I thought, “This would be great for my friends at the bridge because they have no electricity. When I gave them the proclaimer last Thursday I couldn’t tell if they understood what it is because looked puzzled as I demonstrated it to them. When I returned the next morning to pick up a young man named Jerwin for a doctors appointment I had a surprise. I walked down the path leading to the common area where they hang out, but didn’t find any one there. The usual site of smiling faces greeting me and little ones running up to me calling out, “Kuya Sean” was absent. I thought that maybe it was because I was there earlier than usual. When I turned the corner I to Kuya Edwin’s home I found a group of them huddled around the proclaimer listening to the Word of God. What a joy that was to see. I encouraged them to listen to it together as a group, but I didn’t think they would do it early the next morning. I hope that this becomes a tradition for the whole community. Pray that they will grow to love God’s Word and through it, they will fall in love with Him and become like Him.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sometimes the blind can see better than the sighted

Jerwin is a 19 year old junior in High School. I meet him under Manalo Bridge where he and his five siblings live with their mother. His father died 5 years ago from a heart condition. His mom is supporting the family by selling skewers of barbequed meat at an out door market. Two of her six children live many hours away with their Lola (grandmother). I suspect that they live apart from their mom and the rest of the siblings because their mom simply can’t afford to take care of them all.

When I first met Jerwin I noticed that he is blind in one eye one. He appears to have no retina at all as his right eye is solid white. I suspect that it is just covered by a film. He is a quite young man and my oldest son Kian started a friendship when he discovered that Jerwin plays the guitar.

Today I'm writing this blog at the East Avenue Medical Center with Jerwin. I brought him to the hospital to see if they there can do anything for him. After the initial consultation with the doctor we learned that his damaged eye cannot be saved.

With my limited Tagalog and Jerwin's limited English I learned that when he was about three months old, he somehow cut or scratched his eye. Then he got some kind of infection that virtually killed his eye. The doctor told me that Jerwin’s left eye is good, but he can't even detect light with his right eye.

The doctor went on to tell me that they would do a painful procedure (she said that in English so I hope he didn't understand that part) to remove his damaged eye, perhaps just the top layers of it, and then install a prosthetic one. Most of the cost is covered through a ministry called Resources for the Blind, and a few other organizations. Jessica and I will just cover the cost of the medicines and travel expanses.

Jerwin has been floating in and out of the bible study at the bridge or listening from a distance. I'm praying that between the Lord meeting this need, the teaching of the Word, and an up coming youth camp that he is planning on attending, that God will touch his heart and that he will receive Jesus as both Lord and savior. This situation reminds of Bartimaeus. He is a man in the bible who serves as a good example that sometimes the blind can see better than the sighted.

In Mark 10:47 we can see that although he was physically blind, he had 20/20 spiritual sight. It says that:

"When Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Without function eyes he was able to see what most men and women in the world miss; That Jesus is the Son of David, the promised messiah, the savior that God had promised to send into the world. He also knew that his only hope was to cry out to God for mercy. I hope that Jerwing will SEE this as well. Pray that even though he is blind in one eye, that he would not be blind in any way to the gospel. Also pray with me that God will not only work in Jerwins's heart, but also in the hearts of his family as He uses me to minister to them.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pastors to the Bridge

With the ministry at the bridge growing, I see that my friends there need more attention and training than a one hour bible study each week. I want someone who can be at the bridge several days a week teaching the families about God and training them to serve Him. I asked my friend Pastor Noel if he was willing to let one of the men he has been training and who has been working with him minister at the bridge. He liked the idea because he has a heart for the poor, God being glorified through the preaching of the gospel, and it gives opportunities for more training. He suggested that instead of sending one man that he send two.

After talking with some of his men, he found two men who are willing to move near the bridge to shepherd God’s people there and to reach out to the neighboring communities with the gospel. Pastor Rick has been minister for over a decade and Pastor Robert is a student in Bible College. However, I am faced with two difficulties. Pastor Noel’s church is barely able to pay its own bills and is unable to help out these men financially. Jessica and I decided that we will scrape together enough money to pay their rent and we might be able to contribute towards their food each month, but we can’t afford much. We found a small room in a house for these men to live in. It is about 12’ x 7’ and goes for $50 a month including water, electricity, and a bathroom. Food will cost about another $100 a month. For now, their serving the bridge is on hold till we can find people willing to help us support them and their ministry. For now they will come each Sunday to help Pastor Sonny teach the bible study.

The second difficulty is the human tendency to struggle with change. My friends at the bridge have grown fond of Pastor Sonny and some are struggling with his inevitable moving on, (he is working on a few other church plants in other cities) and some are struggling with embracing the new guys. Having been apart of situations like this several times in the past has helped me in dealing with this. This is why I have Pastors Rick and Robert working with Pastor Sonny and slowly transition in over a period of several months. My hope is that the will eventually be accepted, respected, and loved as they build relationships and lovingly minister to the people at the bridge.

Join me in praying for all of these pastors as they serve the Lord. Pray that God will provide all there needs and also consider being a part of the means that God uses to do this.