Impact Blog

Journey of Compassion to the Philippines- First Report

As always, each Journey is unique, with its own characteristics, challenges and blessings. After three days, this trip has not been an exception. We are working in a fairly remote part of Samar, an island in the eastern part of the Philippines. It is one of the poorest provinces in the country, and one of the least reached with the Gospel. 

After a day of orientation, our team from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the US headed out to our first barangay (a small town or village). We arrived at about 5pm, and spread out around the community, giving out 3 kg bags of rice and inviting people to come to a celebration. With so little time to prepare, this first meeting was pretty ragged. By 6:15 about 75 people were there. Truthfully, there wasn’t a lot to draw them; the young people who were singing and playing had never done this before and they were quite shy to actually be playing in front of people. As a result the worship was very short (and low-key). When I preached, I thought it was to church members. When I gave the invitation to receive Jesus, almost all of them came forward¬≠––but again, I thought they were all believers who just didn’t want to miss out. After about thirty minutes of healing prayer, the team went back to the hotel. It seemed like a very modest beginning.

The next morning, nine pastors showed up at the hotel. As we talked about he night before, I mentioned how the crowd seemed to be church people; this comment elicited a strong and immediate, “No!” from them all. They told me that they were virtually all first-time decisions. In fact, prior to last night, there had been only about 15 believers in the barangay. This amazed and delighted our whole team. So much for our assumptions.

We then headed out to another village. This one was much more remote, with only about 150 families. In the past two years they had suffered through two major typhoons––Yolanda and Ruby–-that had done terrible damage. The major crop for this village was coconuts; however, after Ruby struck, most of the trees had been knocked down. It takes 10 years for a coconut tree to produce, so the economic impact of the typhoon has been devastating. I met many who were struggling terribly. Many had been trying to make a living by growing rice, but there has been a serious drought and so their crops were failing.

We spent the day going from house to house, providing bags of much needed rich, praying for the people and often, simply listening to their stories. I spoke with a man who had two young children. With losing his coconut crop, then his rice failing, he and his wife came to the painful decision to send her to work as a domestic in Kuwait. His deep sadness was palpable. Another team member met a woman whose husband had, just three days earlier, killed his brother-in-law and was now running from the law. We encountered many who were suffering from chronic sickness and pain. One team member led an entire family of seven to the Lord. As we traveled through the barangay, many were healed, encouraged and saved.

In the evening, we had an outdoor meeting at the crossroads of this small community. This time, the worship band (the same one as the night before, but fortified with two new and very talented members) attracted people from all over the community. The music was terrific; people listened, moved and danced with the beat. After several testimonies from the team––all from the past two days––I preached on how Jesus sees the invisible ones. When I gave an invitation, almost the entire crowd came forward. I guess that there were about 100, which in a village of this size, was a surprisingly large response. Then, as they stood at the front, our team began to lay hands on them, while I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to touch them. He certainly did. Some folks fell down; others bent over under the weight of God’s presence and glory. After that, I began to pray for blessing, health, and prosperity to come to this community. Aware of the impact of the drought, I asked the Lord to soon release rain for the crops. Then we began to pray for the sick and injured. Once again, lots of healing took place. There were people who told us of chronic pain lasting for many years who were instantly and completely healed.

Once again, the local pastor had the band members get the names and contact information of every person. I joked with him about how much work we (and the Lord) had created for him. He smiled and said that it was very good work. A happy and thankful team drove home, aware of the massive impact just one day had had on this community.

The next morning, a gentle, steady rain began. It still hasn't stopped.

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