A couple of weeks ago a divine connection happened when I went to Angeles city (an hours drive) to meet with the founder of ‘Renew’, who were also ministering and housing girls from the red light district. It originally started with meeting visitors at the base from an organization called, ‘Wipe Every Tear’ who were starting a shelter in Manila as well as in Angeles in the future. The director saw the video and expressed his encouragement to me and wanted to keep in touch in the future. He then connected me up with Renew through facebook and I got invited to come for a visit. It was really an uplift of spirits to listen to other’s hearts investing into this type of work, which can be discouraging and tiresome. We talked for hours, comparing notes and planning an evangelism event with PREDA Foundation (www.preda.org) in the area where we minister to the women. Read about the latest investigation they did. Broadcasted by ABC news. [http://abcnews.go.com/International/americans-targeted-allegedly-running-underage-prostitution-philippines/story?id=18582802] They are willing to pay the bar fine (pay the girls to take them out) so that they won’t get in trouble for missing a day of work. The idea is to have the girls mingle with us and let them hear the Word and then they have a fun time of swimming. The choice is up to them whether they want to transform their lives for the better and we will be following up on that.
Lisa, a journalist based in Paris, France happened to walk in as we were meeting with Renew since she had just arrived and had a meeting with him as well. He invited her to share with us since she might need help find what she was looking for in one of her projects.
She was working for a Swiss television station to find prospects in the Philippines to fit the description of a half European and half Filipino bred child born into a situation where the mother was a bar girl and the estranged father who was a customer. Since it was for a TV station in Switzerland they wanted to find a half Swiss, half Filipino to fly overseas and share their story. The idea was to understand how the lack of relationship and financial support from the father has affected them and if the child gets teased in school because they know his background of where his mother and father met. I thought of Cora, a former bar girl (aka disciple) at our base from years ago and has come back as a volunteer worker. She has 3 children all from different fathers.. One teenage son named Joshua from a German man, a 17 year old girl from an American, who is working overseas staying with her aunt and providing for the family, and her 26 year old daughter named Sandra from a Jamaican American. For 2 years she has served in the Cebu House of Prayer ministry and is now applying as staff on our base.
Lisa wanted to meet Joshua and so after convincing Cora and him to have the interview she came and met us on the base. She recorded the interview on audio and asked how the mom felt with her son growing up without the father’s presence or support. Then asked Josh if he wanted to ever meet his father someday and if he got made fun of for looking very European compared to the rest of his peers in school. He was graduating high school soon so Cora was concerned about not having enough money for him to go to college. They have tried to call the father numerous times, but he would hang up or say that he couldn’t offer child support. His number hadn’t changed after 16 years and the journalist happened to be German also who grew up in Frankfurt where he lives! So Lisa skype called him and spoke to him in German and then gave the headset to Joshua. It was the longest they had ever spoken and they exchanged more contact info. The father even said he might come to the Philippines next year and it would be good to see each other.
It was a very touching moment and both Cora and Sandra were in tears witnessing this. It’s Cora’s dream to see her son going to college and if it’s God’s will for him to continue life overseas if given opportunity.. Because of his father’s heritage, he can receive a free education in Germany if he was to be able to get permission to get a passport from the father. So it was a great opportunity to have Joshua have that direct connection to building a relationship with his father and not through his mother anymore. Sandra also had a chance to ask advice on how she could locate her father since he was in the military when he met her mother. Her quest would be looking through the enlistments of the army bases in Subic Bay. She has gotten over the resentment towards him and is just curious to find out about him.
Please pray that this family gets all the answers and that Josh can receive free education from his father’s nationality that he can live out his full potential.
About a week ago I was feeling a bit of discouragement when it came to following up on bar girls who are notorious for being flaky when it comes to saying that they will attend certain events like bible study, church or just hanging out.. I thought I would call a couple up and see where they were at now. One girl has quit working in the bar and is now at home taking care of her 5 kids so I tried to connect her with the Barretto church I mentioned earlier. Then I called up Grace, one of the girls that our DTS team from 2009 had ministered to. She and her son came to the base and ever since then she has remembered my face and asks about my DTS classmates and what they’re up to nowadays. Grace has quit working in the bars after meeting a “Christian” military man from Texas, who came back for the intention of marrying her. It just shows that you can’t judge the customer’s even though on the outside it may look morally wrong, but God can work in mysterious ways to redeem the lost. I asked if she was interested in coming to church and she quickly asked her fiance and he was interested. She said she would contact me later but of course, not surprisingly, I didn’t hear back from her.. until you read the next thing that happened.
Last Sunday, I walked through the doors of my church and saw a very familiar face.. it was Grace with her fiance!! (picture above) It took me a while to figure out who she was since it has been months since the last I saw her. She looked radiant! Grace had that look of shock in her eyes, surprised that it was me haha.. it turned out that their neighbor invited them to the church but they weren’t present. I was in awe how the Lord coordinated that despite the lack of communication we had. He organized it so I could see the fruit of our labor. I asked them when the wedding was and they said sometime soon and you can tell he was head over heals for Grace.. The man wasn’t the stereotypical sleazeball you would expect in the barsbut a gentleman who attended church back home in Texas. I invited them to the Wednesday night bible study at our church and they were eager to come to that as well.. God is so amazing!
This season has been full of seeing the labor come to fruition whether it was through prayer, sowing words of encouragement or just being a present reminder of God’s grace for these girls. My commitment on this base is coming to an end in April. I will be visiting my dad for his wedding and praise God for the perfect timing since this will be my chance to see where the Lord is leading me to next in ministry. I feel as if I could finally move on where as before I felt tied down to my commitment in YWAM because no one else could follow up on the girls long term like I was able to. I feel as if God is connecting my relationships with these girls to his church. It’s our biblical mandate to welcome the broken with arms wide open whether it is inchurch or in our communities.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Another former bar girl, whom I mentioned before, has quit and signed up for the sewing program I introduced to her. She has also been to Manila for the card making training in Samaritana ministries. I was so encouraged by her dedication for coming as early as 5am to travel with our director to go to the ministry. Now she’s working in our livelihood and living off base.
Princess, (mentioned in the last post) is still in the province taking care of her uncle’s medical condition and he has now recovered. But now she’s working at a canteen store to pay off his expenses. It is such a cultural obligation to take care of their relatives even though they aren’t responsible and have families of their own to care for. She hopes to still come back to work at our paper making project in Pasay once she’s paid everything off.. At least she’s not working in the bars anymore and still holding onto God’s promises over her life. She texts me thanking me for being her best friend and being there to help guide her on the right path..
I’m excited for what will come next. I know that the Lord will guide and lead me by the hand on all the things I’ve learnt and gone through to enter into the next journey of faith ahead.