We arrived in Manila late last Friday night! We’ve been here a week already and time has flown by. I always cherish the times I am able to spend here with Naomi and Marybeth and the girls at Safe Refuge, though they may be short.
So many precious moments have already taken place that it is hard to write about them all. I wish I could bottle up each moment and remember it forever. Though it’s been busy, when you sit and actually ponder and think about the work that is taking place here, it’s quite overwhelming. Every time I visit, I get to see more lives being transformed and set free due to the obedience of Naomi and Marybeth walking in God’s calling.
Sunday was a special moment for me. It was the 17th anniversary of the church here that Safe Refuge attends, Harvest for Christ. Pastor Ed and much of the congregation are involved in the lives of the Safe Refuge residents. Anniversaries here in the Philippines are a huge deal. They prepared a special service with worship, songs, dances, dramas and a message to celebrate what God has done.
As we entered the church, we were lovingly greeted by faces that were quite familiar to me and exchanged hugs and smiles. Everyone eventually found their seat and the worship team and small choir gathered at the front of the small church to start. The keyboardist gently started to play the melody of “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” as Marybeth played the violin and the choir ever so softly began to sing. It was one of the most beautiful choruses I have ever heard. The spirit of God instantly fell in the room as the words resounded in our ears.
“Great is thy faithfulness, oh God our Father. There is no shadow of turning in thee. Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not, as thou has been thou forever will be.”
I looked a couple rows in front of me to the front and saw Naomi holding Jassal, a little girl with a heart condition from Welfareville, a slum here, that she has helped take care of the past few years. This little girl would not be alive if it weren’t for the grace of God and Naomi taking the time to reach out and help her.
I looked right next to me and saw one of the Safe Refuge staff members, who was a former resident, holding her little girl in one arm with the other arm raised up towards God. Her eyes were closed as tears streamed down her face and she sang the words to the song. Her story is one of rescue and redemption.
Seeing these two precious moments brought me to tears. Looking around the room and seeing the utter faithfulness of God in the lives of these people caused love and compassion to well up in my heart. What a privilege it is to be here even for a few weeks at a time, and be allowed to share a small part of the lives here.
“Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed thy hand hath provided, great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.”
Last night we spent most of the night in one of the main red light district areas of Manila to get some footage. Though I’ve experienced and seen things like this before, last night was definitely an intense experience. It’s too much to write about now but maybe in a later post.
Tomorrow we leave to go just outside the city to a province and lead a dance workshop for some of the girls in the surrounding churches. The rest of the team will be filming and getting some footage in the province area.
Pray for us as we have three more weeks left here!