Malabon. 1.

Gentle Hands has recently begun a ministry in a large depressed area of Manila called Malabon. More than 20,000 people live on reclaimed land fills. There are no other organizations or ministries in this particular area. As you can imagine, the need is great.

Alana jun 09 321 My feet give way in the garbage, the ground soft and rotting. I look straight ahead not wanting to react. Though I am accustomed to poverty, to filth, to walking delicately, it is still hard to look in the faces of little children who live in this.Girls 374

The stench is overpowering and with hot cheeks, I cough. I have seen worse. But human waste and floodwaters mix with garbage, compost, to make the most obnoxious fumes. 

I am led down the narrow alleyways, quickly as we dance over the broken glass and sinking plastic. I am brought to a home where a child is dying. I take time to hear the story of her husband’s death one month ago, her struggle to feed her three children, and I move my hand carefully over the twisted body of her deformed 3 year old. I hold the mother’s hand and tell her about Jesus and how her baby will be safe in heaven and how Jesus will hold her when the time comes.

A 19 year old girl lying in the corner of the room coughs suspiciously. I know the face of tuberculosis and I know that she is in the last stages. I take the prescriptions and interview the family. Then I ask her to come close and I lay my hands on her head and I pray. I pray and she weeps. Jesus have mercy. She is so hopeless.

By now, there are many children outside wondering what is going on and my own team is tired of standing in the muck. We go back through the narrow paths and all along the way I am aware of their eyes. They follow me. They question me. They stare at me. Their eyes hold mine. Every where I turn, every face I look into, every voice that calls my name.

My heart is pulled, stretched, burdened, and broken for these precious people who do not know any hope.

Girls 373 I cannot explain the urgency in my spirit. Nor can I explain how great the need is. There are children dying of tuberculosis, of malnutrition. There is sickness, sadness, and fear in every home. But as I walk, I sense a boldness, a warmth that I have felt before. I hear a whisper and I feel the hairs on my neck stand up. HE is here with me. I sense Him in the chaos, the pain, the suffering.  I have found Him afresh, anew and my heart is overjoyed. He walks beside me, and I begin to see that He has already gone before me.

I cannot explain the joy my heart feels. How can I tell the way I feel I will burst at the chance to hold a dirty naked child. It is Him.

My Lord, My Saviour. I am honoured to feed you, to hold you, to give you drink, to clothe you, to simply touch you.

 

"Whatever you do to the least of these" Matthew 25.

Father to the Fatherless

We gather for devotions, as we do every night at 8. And the songs are about the Father’s love. It is Father’s Day, after all. Somehow the air is heavy and so is my heart.

 

I look at their faces. There is little emotion and their eyes look down.

 

Jayjay. His father disappeared with no trace more than 3 years ago.

Em. No memory of a father who left when he was a baby.

Eddy. His father died in the night when he was only 5.

Aries. His father, the one who held their family together, died of tuberculosis 3 years ago.

Pedro. Though still around, his father was abusive, drunk and cruel most of his life.

Ryan. His father beat them, used drugs and eventually killed someone.

Gil. He and his siblings are the 2nd family of his father. They have suffered much at his neglect.

Jhan Khay. His father died when he was only 8 months old and he was sent away to relatives where he suffered much at the hands of a mean uncle and grandfather.

 

The list goes on.

 

They have not been mentored, taught, or protected by the man that should have been their hero.

How important it is for them to know and feel the love of our Heavenly Father.

 

The tears burn my eyes for even I hold bitterness for the sins I have seen their fathers commit. The times I have seen them hurt. The times I happened upon their suffering at the hands of their earthly fathers. I weep for my own forgiveness and ask God to heal their hearts.

 

They kneel, crying for lost time, for wounds unhealed, opening their hearts asking God to fill their emptiness. His presence fills them and their tears dry. Their voices are strangely beautiful as they sing to their Father.

 

He is truly a father to the fatherless.

 

 

 

Soldier Boy

June 1-8, 2009

Gentle Hands had a Clown/Puppet Team come from Texas to help us do our summer outreaches into local depressed areas. The two professional clowns had been to GH for several years in a row starting in 1997. We held an evening program in  Escopa, the community we have worked in for 9 years. The clowns remembered this place very well and many of the children, now grown up, remembered them too.

I remember the boy they are looking for but only from a picture and only because I remember there was something wrong with him. He would faint or fall for no reason at all. He was slow. I remember the team feeling deeply for him. But to my knowledge, I had never encountered him in the nine years I had worked in Escopa.

At the end of the crusade, a nice looking young man approached me. “Ate, you are looking for me? I’m JR.” I didn’t know him but I called the clowns over and left them to hug and reminisce.

 JR and clowns

He was tall, 5’10” maybe. His voice gentle but he was tall and his body built strong. He carried an air about him, almost of authority. He was very sure of himself.

 

As we shook hands to say goodbye, I noticed an ulcer looking wound on his hand and I asked what happened. He shook his head and covered his hand, embarrassed.  “I have medicine at the house. Come over tomorrow and I’ll wrap that. You’re going to get sick from the infection.”

He came the next evening with fever and explained he had a wound on his shoulder that was giving him great pain. I was shocked to see the 3rd degree burn on his arm. He had poured acid on a fraternity tattoo because he was about to leave for Armed Forces Training. It was raw, oozing with black dead skin and infection.

I cleaned and wrapped it and prayed for God to heal him. With tears in his eyes, he took the Bible I gave him and said he would be back tomorrow.

 

I ended up in the hospital with our little baby Edu, on Monday night and JR came to visit. He talked about his childhood, his growing up, his sickness when he was younger and his family. He told me of finding his little brother on the ground, his eyes and nose gone, just gaping holes left. He told me how he picked his brother up and ran to the hospital a mile away with his brain coming out the back of his head. He had grabbed onto a live wire after climbing on the roof to get a stray kite.

A year later his dad died and along with that went his hope, his protector, his hero, and best friend. For three years he has felt alone and drifting. He joined the marines and became a soldier to be reckoned with, following in his dad’s footsteps.

He wept quietly as he poured out his heart. The drinking of his older brother, the failures of his family, his aching heart for his brother and father. His dreams, his goals, his upcoming military training. He just talked and talked and talked.

 

A few days later, after he had spent the day helping at Gentle Hands playing with the kids and ordering the boys around, he came upstairs very serious. He had already cleaned my house, monitored the boys, made them clean their rooms, fold their towels, take a bath (and not waste water), do the dishes, clean the bathroom, and use respect when they spoke. They listened and responded to him. I had enjoyed watching the soldier bring order to my poor squatter boys.

I wondered what he needed to say. He looked at me and said, “Ate, I’m not alone anymore. I will just live at your house and you can take care of me. When I have time off from school (he is taking welding), I have a place to go now. You can be my second mom. Is that okay?” He was serious. My heart moved. Tears shimmered in his eyes. What could I say?

 

Somehow in the next few days, during a worship time, JR accepted Jesus as his personal Savior. His wounds continue to heal and his desire to grow in the Lord is evident. JR 1

 

Over and over I think how thankful I am to have caught a glimpse of his wound. I am so thankful the clowns remembered him and called for him. I am so thankful to see another boy’s life saved by God’s grace. I am honoured to be entrusted with another young life and amazed at God's plan for each life and how God alone has the timing down to the minute.