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.
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.
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.
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.