Philippines 2018_Day 3_Tuesday
Whilst dreaming away on my first night, I woke up to the sound of...cockerels. They weren’t quite trained like you see in cartoons though, they crowed during random intervals from 3am-5:30am! But no worries, it was a pleasant surprise and prepped me to be awake for our 6am devotions!
The children led us into a beautiful time of worship and we looked at the word with the whole team to set us up for the day. The children didn’t hold back when it came to worshipping the Lord, they pushed past any morning voice and worshipped with everything they had. Even the children as young as 5 years old had their eyes closed and hands in the air! So wonderful!
Every morning the children of God’s Children’s Home are up and ready for devotion starting at 6am. This morning was no different – their smiling expectant faces greeted us as the team found their places to join them at our first devotion together. I have witnessed over the years that God’s love and power overflows freely through the people of ROLM as they reach out to others, with many coming to know the love of Christ continuously. God truly fills them with fresh strength and life to do His work as they start their day every morning worshipping God with all their hearts, hearing His Word & praying and committing their day to the Lord.
This morning I shared from Psalm 145.1-5, and how the God we serve is a God of generations, how ‘One generation will commend your works to another’. My prayer for ROLM has been that the vision for ROLM, placed in Ps Fely’s heart a number of years ago, for the church to preach the gospel & make disciples ‘to the ends of the earth’ would continue to be fulfilled from generation to generation, as the church serves together in unity as a family across the generations.
Prayer Mountain, Prayer & Worship
We had been so blessed with volunteers who wake up as early as 3am to prepare breakfast for us. Their servant hearts were so evident and they did everything without any grumbling or moaning. So thankful for them. Soon after breakfast, we walked up to the mountains to pray and worship. We all gathered under a straw hut which I believe was made by themselves! We aligned our hearts, spirits and minds and were ready to lay beside everything we had for the day ahead.
Surrounded by the views of the beautiful jungles, Jo & Ken led us in worship and prayer, with the presence of God with us. BLi & ROLM prayed as one family on behalf of the people of the land, knowing God hears and answers our prayer. Hui King shared afterwards about how we ought to look upon the land and the people with eyes of compassion, for this is the heart that God has for the people. This stayed with me throughout the course of the time there – indeed it is the compassionate heart of God that is our very motivation for coming and serving the people of this land. We enjoyed drinking fresh coconut juice straight off the coconut trees afterwards too.
In the afternoon we travelled by boat to Dolores , to run medical/dental clinics & ministry in two prisons. The ROLM prison ministry has flourished over the years, and as Rick accurately described last year it is like a ‘church you can’t escape from’, with most of the prisoners having being touched and continue to be transformed by Christ’s love and hope, from a place of brokenness.
We planned to have baptisms and communion in each of the prisons.
Prison Ministry in Dolores
We visited two different prisons which were actually beside each other, yet strangely different at the same time. The first prison we visited looked like a cozy hut enclosed in a construction site. We were welcomed with around 70+ smiley faces and they all wore red t-shirts which had ‘JESUS’ on them! I wouldn’t have been able to tell that they were prisoners if I wasn’t told! We set up our first dental and medical clinics and were ready to go!
On Tuesday, our first location was at the two prisons in Dolores; this proved a challenging start to the week as the prison was undergoing major building work and there was very little space to set up compared to our 2017 visit. The only option we had available to us was using the building site itself as a clinic! The team very quickly and smoothly set up our dental and medical clinics within the skeleton of the new building, surrounded by concrete pillars and rubble, and with the midday sun beating down on us. The prisoners very quickly realised that it would be very hot for us working in these conditions, and before we had a chance to ask for a fan several inmates had climbed the concrete pillars and we shielding us with tarpaulin. The resourcefulness and desire to help from the inmates was incredible to witness. This clinic felt particularly satisfying as on the 2017 trip we were not able to see everyone who required dental treatment due to time constraints, but this time we managed to treat all who attended the clinic!
The first prison was under re-construction, with initially some confusion about whether we could have the baptism and/or communion; however the team stayed focused & positive and went ahead to set up the medical/dental clinics in the construction site and start the service. Hui King, Hui Yun & Wynne shared God’s Word & their testimonies, the prisoners hungry to hear and receive.
Ai Seok & I (Naomi) then served communion – it was touching to see the gratitude in the eyes of the prisoners as they received communion and the forgiveness and new life it symbolises. Many of the prisoners were confined to their prison cells as we served communion through the bars of the cells – they were so restricted physically with 70 prisoners sharing 4 small prison cells between them – and yet received communion so gratefully, knowing that that Christ has exchanged their old lives with a brand new life.
Meanwhile the medical/dental clinic ran in the prison, with many testimonies from the team members about miraculous healings taking place as the team prayed for the prisoners.
We moved on to the next prison, with the healings continuing as the team prayed for the prisoners. The 2nd prison allowed the baptism to go ahead. Tammy shared on the power of baptism, of our old selves being dead and buried together with Christ and of the new resurrected life He gives to us. It was a joy to witness the baptism of the prisoners who committed their lives to Christ – truly the ‘old has gone, the new has come!’.
I was part of the prayer team, not really sure how it worked as it was my first time. To begin with, my prayers were quite generic for the prisoners who came out with their medicine. Then I overheard some other team members asking about their lives and what other pain they had in their bodies and I realised I could actually be praying for complete healing not just for the medicine or decreasing in pain.
Determined, I put away my unbelief and was ready to be bold and pray for full healing for the prisoners. I learnt from Naomi that you could measure the distance of what they could see from reading words off a t-shirt or something close by, then you could compare before and after. After seeing a prisoner being healed from his fuzzy vision, I started to really start believing for complete healing for anyone who had accepted God into their lives and wanted to receive healing themselves. God delivered every single time. I was surprised by how simple yet powerful it was to declare in Jesus' for the pain to be healed.
It was amazing to witness how much healing was happening right there and then. Headache, chest pain, back pain, groin area pain, coughing, coughing up blood, fuzzy vision and blind eyes, knees hurting, arthritis, arm pain, numbness in the legs and arms, shoulder pain. I believe God healed every single one of them!
It's funny, because most of the people were healed with one prayer. But God presented someone who needed prayer more than once. There was a man who was completely blind in his left eye from a motorcycle accident. We prayed 4/5 times before his left eye was clear again. The healing came in parts, he could start to see shadows, then started to see colour and clarity, and it came bit by bit. But I could feel that God was prompting to me to keep praying for full healing and not give up because that's what Jesus also did in the gospels! (Jesus Heals a Blind Man - Mark 8:22-26) God is so good!!! Praise the Lord! God was so merciful! Thank you Jesus. Salamat Jose! He was also so happy and he could see again!!!
God's goodness was so evident through the prayer and healing sessions in the two prisons. Some of the most beautiful moments weren't just healing though- it was actually when they wanted to receive God as their Lord and Saviour. There was a man who came up to me, who didn't actually want to be prayed for, but he said, PLEASE! I REALLY WANT TO GET BAPTISED!! I WANT TO RECEIVE HIM AS MY LORD AND SAVIOUR! Oh my goodness, the beam on his face and the pure joy he had from the Lord was so amazing. Praise God he got baptised there and then!!
I just want to take this moment to thank God for using me as a vessel that first day. I tried to be obedient to God and yearned to hear His still small voice, and from that, God was faithful and had so much love for the people in the Philippines too. So thank you Lord for your faithfulness and the love that knows no bounds.
Since coming back, a poster that was stuck on my wardrobe for a very long time (I mean like, years) stuck out to me like a sore thumb.
'And He sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.' Luke 9:2
I always read that passage on my wardrobe thinking that someone else could heal, but not myself. Someone else could preach the kingdom of God, but not myself. I guess sometimes we live with doubts in our head that make us think we are not capable of anything. But I've learnt it's true we aren't capable of anything. It's only through God working in us that we are able to do things. I wasn't able to heal people - that's far from it. It was God using me as a vessel and GOD healing the pains, and GOD'S glory that needed to be shown through all of the miracles. IT WAS ALL HIM!!! So don't be afraid that you can't, because that mindset only shows that you are relying on yourself. But you can now change your mindset to say, I know I can't, but Lord I know You can.
When came evening, we entered the church that was filled with children full of anticipation. Having started off with songs of praise, the children sang their hearts out and danced with joy. The team prepared a short puppet skit for the kids, depicting the story of David and the Goliath. The children loved it, especially when puppet David threw the ‘stone’ into puppet Goliath’s forehead. We then spoke about why God chose David and how God is bigger than any problems than we face so we do not have to be afraid. We wanted the children to know that God could help them achieve their dreams, if they put their trust in Him and draw strength from the almighty One! The night then ended with a craft session where the children were encouraged to draw or write their dreams on a popsicle stick heart.
This is Ezekiel, and he wrote ‘I want to be pastor and missionary someday and also I want to see my name in the book of heaven.’
Our hearts were so full, God loves His children.
It was so encouraging to see what they hoped to become – some pastors & missionaries! I spent some time that evening chatting to one of the young girls about her dreams of the future, & how much her older sister (currently away) meant to her and encouraged her, continually reminding her how precious she was as God’s child. Her testimony touched me, and hoped too that the love of God would be passed on through our lives to the many around us throughout our time here & beyond – the very reason why we came.