The last two weeks have been such a blessing from God. To be able to see firsthand the work that He is doing in Manila is a privilege that I don’t take for granted. In coming here I had hope to fulfill three things; learn, serve, and grow.
The community I lived and served in is called Cainta, Rizal; a smaller community which is part of greater Manila. I partnered with Kid’s International Ministries, or KIM, which ministers to the local squatter community. Squatter refers to a community lacking in basic living needs such as food, water, clothes, and shelter. Children roam the streets when they should be in school because their parents cannot afford a second set of clothes for them let alone tuition. Unemployment runs as high as disease and malnutrition and shacks house 10+ people. KIM operates in the community through an orphanage, an alternative home for girls called Josie’s Angels Zone (JAZ), the Yujin Ministry Center (YMC), and has strong ties to a local Christian school called Jesus Christ Church of the Valley (JCCV). The aim of KIM and its different organizations is to empower the people of Cuatro, their community, by providing for their physical as well as their spiritual needs.
Jumping in was easy since there is so much opportunity for plugging in. A few times I tagged along during “feedings” in which we would drive a van full of people to a neighboring community in need. Two containers filled with a nutrient enhanced soup/rice mixture would serve 150+ people. Feedings happen twice daily Monday through Friday. A couple of days I volunteered my time in the JCCV library reading to school kids. Where I spent most of my time was at the future construction site of a hospital. We needed to dig out the surplus of clay soil and take it by truck to a dump site about 2 miles away. I worked at this site just about every day for 4-7 hours and at the end of each day could feel it all over my body. It was actually pretty fun. You don’t always get to see a tangible representation of your ministry but in this we did. Most evenings I would hang out with John Dorrell and the local kids that he has been ministering to in his time here. There were bible studies, verse memorization, snacks, soccer games, and times when we just hung around on the street talking about whatever or having pull-up contests. I was able to see John’s impact on these kid’s lives. They look up to him as a responsible, Christ following man. Something they don’t see a lot of in their own families. While The Philippines still has some old ties to Catholicism and many Filipinos claim to be Christians, few actually act like it.
As I reflect on the last two weeks I can see the ways in which God had me grow through this experience. The first thing that has been pressed on me is the crucial need of not only providing people with the word of God but also for their basic needs. Proclaiming God’s goodness will typically fall on deaf ears when stomachs are still hungry if you get my drift. People are much more willing to accept the love of Jesus if they are able to witness that love being acted out in the lives of His followers. Next I grew in the way I prayed. I’ve been realizing the last couple of weeks how sometimes I put little effort into my prayers. We’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another. We forget to actually think about the words coming out of our mouths and revert to repetition of phrases we’ve said time and time again. I encourage you to actually think about what or who you are praying for. Together let’s mimic the way that Jesus taught us to pray by asking for God to fulfill our daily needs. Lastly, God has shown me the necessity for individuals living abroad in communities such as this long-term. While short-term missions are great and can have a positive impact, they don’t always provide the longevity that is so important in places where problems won’t be resolved in two weeks time. I find myself asking God, “Should I go? Where? When? For how long?” I believe every Christ follower should ask God these same questions constantly. You may not believe He’s calling you to live overseas, but maybe He’s asking you to your neighbor’s house, your local school, or even the orphanage or homeless center in your community.
Now it’s time to come home. After 15 ½ months of being away the day has finally come. Will I be back overseas? I’m not sure, but God is definitely leading me in that direction. I leave this Friday and make a 13 hour pit stop in Hong Kong where I plan to gallivant about the city for the evening before my flight to Chicago. There are so many ways in which God has blessed me in my time abroad. He has taken me to Korea, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, The Philippines, China and America. He has provided me with amazing friends and people to call family. He has caused me to grow and mature as a man of God. He has fed, sheltered, and provided for my every need. He has poured out His blessings unendingly. Thank you Lord!
While my future is still sort of a question mark, I will keep everyone posted on where God leads me. Also, be on the lookout for new videos from my last two months of travels. Until next time, this is Caleb Hatfield bidding farewell to Asia and returning to you from “across the pond.”