By God’s grace, I have been sustained as I, along with my other co-missionaries in Companion With the Poor (CWTP) who are situated around the Metro-Manila area and in Cebu City, have been ministering in Montalban, Philippines over these last weeks. And we trust that the Lord will be with us throughout the entirety of this quarantine, and afterwards, as we work to find a new normal. During this time, we have been practicing three disciplines – prayer; care for ourselves, our family, and neighbors; and distribution of relief to those in need. To date, we continue to have a daily 9am prayer with our CWTP missionaries/community through Facebook Messenger, and we have been able to distribute relief to nearly 3,000 families in 50 different communities throughout Metro-Manila and Cebu! And we will continue to be a channel of blessing as long as there are families in need (the majority of our 4,000+ CWTP partner church members throughout the city have lost their jobs – due to the quarantine – and since they are “no work, no pay” employees, they are dependent on the generosity of NGOs, their local churches, and the government during this time).
Amidst the community quarantine, and so much pain and suffering, there are also many stories of hope and rays of light that break through the clouds and darkness that seem to hover over the city (and the world). One story that happened recently took place in Montalban, Rizal (a relocation community with over 100,000 poor families just outside the city). I had lived in Montalban back in 2013 for a year, and became close friends with my host family,my neighbors and church mates from the church we helped plant. My host brother from Montalban (who was just 12 years old back in 2013 when I first met him) recently became a CWTP missionary, and is now helping us plant churches in other parts of the city!
After talking with my host brother there, Johnlee, I heard that three of the families I had become close to on his block (including his aunt and uncle, a family from the church, and the family that had moved into the unit that I used to live in) had little to no food and were in great need. In response, I was able to raise $200 from my ministry partners in the United States to send to these four families (including Johnlee’s family), which I figured (at $12/week) should help these families for at least the next four weeks. After sending the money through a local money sender (since there is a checkpoint between his community and my current community preventing us from visiting one another), I heard back from Johnlee. He said that he had used the $200 to buy food for all 40 families on his block! While I was only seeing the 4 families in need, he was seeing (and continues to see) the 40 families in need on his block! Though the food he bought was only good for a few days, this provision was a sign of hope for those families, and even an extension of the Good News of Jesus given through this humble servant (Johnlee), and coming from my ministry partners back in the United States.
Through this experience, Johnlee was also encouraged to reach out to our CWTP leadership to request more relief for his church members in Montalban, and CWTP was able to raise and send an additional $600 for 50 additional families throughout his community!
May God continue to use us as His hands and feet to provide food for the hungry, and the Good News of the Gospel, to those in need here in the Philippines, back in the United States, and all around the world during this time!