April 17, 2020
Jacob’s Trip to the Philippines

Making A Difference in the Philippines

On January 11, 2020, I took a trip to the Philippines for the first time.  I was surprised to find out that Manila is a metropolis.  Skyscrapers, shopping malls, and hotels are as good as those in any major city in the United States.  However, less than 20 miles away is the biggest slum in the Philippines.  Over 300,000 people were resettled from the inner city to this coastal region without being compensated at all. They has to 

The Slum Area Homes

build their own bamboo shanties for their families.  Sometimes, over a dozen people live in a place that is less than 100 square feet.  My worn-out hotel room looks like a palace to these people.

The next day, I participated in five Sunday services where each church was packed with worshipers from the community.  The temperature in January was the coolest of the year, but remained over 90 degrees during the day.  Inside the churches, with no air conditioning due to the lack of a stable power supply, the temperature can get to over 120 degrees.  I tried to stay close to a fan, but it was circulating hot air.  When I looked out, I could see people standing outside the church building because the church was completely full.  I wonder when the last time was that a church in the U.S. had people standing outside the door to join in the worship service.

Overcrowded Church

On Monday, missionary Sang Ho took me with him to pay visits to some church members. I was walking on pathways made of bamboo. These narrow paths are about 1 to 2 feet wide and are 5 to 6 feet above the rancid river filled with trash and human feces, with spaces between the bamboo poles (which had been incorrectly placed and through which babies and toddlers have fallen). My eyes were always looking down because of dog/cat waste and holes from missing bamboo poles. We stopped by to see a family where the mom was packing laundry detergent powders into small plastic bags. She sells these detergents for 1 peso (2 cents in U.S. dollars) per bag because most people cannot afford a 5-ounce bag of soap.

During the entire visit, kids from all over the place were following Sang Ho and calling him missionary or mister. These kids genuinely love and admire Sang Ho because no one else has been to this place and taught them about God as Sang Ho does. Children were constantly grabbing his hand and placing it on their head to receive a prayer of blessing. This reminded me of how, in Luke 8:43-48, a bleeding woman was healed by simply touching the edge of Jesus’ cloak. It’s no wonder why Jesus taught us to have faith like little children (Matthew 18:2-4).

If you ever visit the slums of Bacoor, you will be thrilled to see the joy of the children and their parents. They may not have enough food on the table at the end of the day or know what to do in case of a fire or flood, but they are content when they come to church and worship God with all their heart. If God is going to take away everything I have today, will I be able to worship him like these people? I doubt I will have the answer, but at least I know where to look when that happens. Thank you, God, for this trip; and please let me remember what I have seen so that I will never be discouraged from serving you. Amen.

Written by: Jacob Park – Chief Operating Officer

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