Dipolog was one of seven places, at which we conducted a healing school with DeepWater Ministries, Intl. during our second mission trip to the Philippines in early 2017.
The Forgotten Children of the Philippines ministry was conceived during this mission trip. After our Sunday morning miracle service, Helen Martinez and I responded to the invitation of Pastor Renato Advento with King Jesus Christian Fellowship Church located in Dipolog City. We joined their staff in feeding the children at Manukan Beach, Zamboanga, del Norte, about an hour-and-a- half drive from our hotel.
When we arrived at Manukan Beach, the children had already started their Sunday School with their teacher Nelia Tawi (who became Pastor Renato Advento’s wife). Pastor Jonathan Vilbestre, the local pastor at Manukan Beach, asked me to preach. I was a bit nervous since it was my first preaching experience.
After church, the children started to line up with their cups in their hands ready to receive “champorado” (chocolate rice porridge). Pastor Renato asked me and Helen to dish out the “champorado” into the children’s cups. It was quite a moving experience for us to see the hungry children patiently waiting their turn to get their meal. I never could get the picture of hungry children out of my mind since then.
Seven months later, when I came back to Ohio in September 2017, I posted a picture of a little girl on Frontline Church of God’s Facebook Page, Broken Vessel Healing Room with the following text: “If you can help, please let me know.” To my surprise, quite a number of people responded to the post. I received private messages on messenger asking me how they can help. Pastor Chris Hildenbrand wrote and circulated his letter of campaign and support announcing the birth of a new children’s outreach ministry in the Philippines. Flyers started to go up in various locations and donations in the form of non- perishable food, clothes, shoes, toys and personal hygiene supplies started pouring in from individuals, local churches and businesses in Amanda, Lancaster and Circleville. Financial donations started coming in from Ohio and other states.
All supplies were shipped out on October 10, 2017. My hope was for them to be delivered in Dipolog by Christmas. Due to three tropical storms that hit the island in December, they were not delivered until the second week in January 2018. Helen and I flew to Dipolog on January 12th to start sorting the supplies with Pastor Renato and his staff. We fed the children and distributed the supplies on January 13th and 14th.
Lyle Schaller has done extensive research that shows the more friendships a person has in a church, the less likely they are to become inactive or leave. In contrast, I read about a survey where they asked 400 church drop-outs why they left their churches. Over 75% of the respondents said, “I didn’t feel anyone cared whether I was there or not.”
I got to thinking about that sentence, "I didn't feel anyone cared whether I was there or not." If this is why people leave our churches, does it not also stand to reason that this issue of caring for people or the lack thereof, hinder people from coming to church to begin with?
Jesus is the head of the body. The body is the church and the church is the people. Therefore, as the Head gives the commands, the body carries them out. We are to extend the love of God to hurting humanity by preaching the gospel and then doing acts of service. According to Matthew 25, we are to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. We are to clothe the less fortunate, minister to the sick, and visit those in prison. James 1:27 also tells us to minister to the fatherless and widows.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. We were not saved to sit, we were saved to serve. We must show we care. It's what Jesus did and is still wanting to do through us. The world is waiting.