Philippines 2018_Day 5_Thursday
Hui Yun Teoh
The beginning of the fifth day of our mission trip started as usual. The orphanage children arrived faithfully and sat quietly waiting for devotion. We had a short but powerful worship early in the morning, where the children worshipped with pureness of hearts.
The devotion for that day was from a particular passage I read and spoke to me strongly before the mission trip. It was from the Book of James, chapter 5:7-10 about Patience in Suffering. The devotion was to encourage all to focus our eyes on our unchanging God and have patience in the face of suffering as we continue to run this race of faith.
I remember waking up quite tired and a lack of sleep. This was because I was up till late writing and preparing for my talk. The first time I would ‘preach’ in front of people. What was amazing though is after our morning devotion and worshiping God - that tiredness quickly disappeared and I remember being on the boat as we set off for the day feeling refreshed and ready for God to work through me.
@ Oras Prison
Jung Yin Tsang
Oras prison is close to my heart. Last year when I was preparing, I heard God communicate to me so clearly to let the Spirit guide my preaching. It was the first time I experienced the Holy Spirit so closely back then. This year, I could already feel God's presence when we arrived, the place had changed, already filled with quite a few Christians from the ongoing ministries from the river of life mission team. We gathered for prayer before we started our ministries and some prisoners and guards helped us set up the medical and dental stations.
We started with a time of worship inside a little sheltered area directly adjacent to the prisoner complex. Then Jess gave her heartfelt testimony, she humbled herself and gave an honest account of the drugs and alcohol and difficult times she had in the past. The prisoners intently listened to how her life was changed because of Christ.
Then I gave a sermon on love through suffering, explaining God's love, and how he is slow to anger and quick to forgive. I called out to the prisoners to come forward if they wanted to experience His love further, and astonishingly they all stepped forward. There was so much trust from the guards to the prisoners: listening to a privileged stranger talk about God's love, to then humble themselves take a step forward in front of others and ask for prayer. It is not by what I said or did, but only by God's strength and will. The glory of Christ was declared as we reached across the wall of barbed wire separating us and the prisoners to break barriers and rules as we lay on hands and prayed for each one in turn.
Jung Yin Tsang
We brought with us a wooden baptism pool, and on this day 13 more were baptised in the name of the Lord. The prisoners, guards and the team were so grateful to the Lord and the session ended singing praises to the Lord and the prisoners singing songs for us that they had composed.
Jung Yin Tsang
I joined the medical clinic after my preaching, and also had an opportunity to pray for one of the guards that had been suffering with back pain for years. All his scans were normal and medication did not work for him. He accepted my offer to pray for healing of his lower back and in the name of Jesus I prayed for healing. When I opened my eyes he was in tears, he told me he knew how much Jesus loved him and praised God for his grace and mercy.
It was going to be a challenging and tiring day as I was set to be on the prayer team in the morning as we went to visit our third and final prison of the trip, followed by preaching in Dolores in the afternoon. God had been working already throughout the week, and He definitely did not disappoint today either. He is so faithful. When I felt inadequate, unworthy and unqualified - He reveals Himself and reminded me that He loves me.
Prayer is a powerful weapon. It was going to be my first time praying not only for prisoners, not only to complete strangers, but also the first time I would pray for healing to those who had pains or aches. Having no idea how to pray a prayer of healing, before it all began, Emily, myself and the volunteers who would be interpreting for us came together and prayed that God would use us mightily in His plan.
God moved. I witnessed back pains being healed, shoulder pain cleared, but there was two men that I remember and stood out for me more.
The first was a man who had to use a walking stick to move around. He slowly sat down and I began to find out that he could not hear out of his left ear and his left knee had arthritis.
I clicked my fingers right next to his left ear where he gave no response and the interpreters had to speak to him through his other ear. I laid hands on his ear as we as a team prayed together for this man - In Jesus Name that he be healed because he is a Child of God. After that prayer the man could hear again! Hallelujah!! I clicked my fingers again and he responded. We also had an interpreter speak softly to him in his left ear where he responded to her as well! How amazing and powerful is Jesus’ Name! Seeing and witnessing this truly delighted my heart and solidified my faith in the power of Jesus.
Now his left leg he was able to flex out straight, but it was bending it that he had trouble with which he showed me. After healing his ear, there was no way we weren’t going to pray for his leg. We prayed and you could see the range of motion improving, but he still felt pain. So we prayed again. Still only slight improvement. At this point I remembered what Brother Yang shared about his experiences on healing - and how Jesus sometimes had to pray a few times for healing - so how many more times do we need to pray. So I prayed again.
After the third time, to my surprise, to my delight - the man got up from the chair, by himself, with no walking stick, back on to his own two feet. His face of joy and surprise is one of those snapshot photos you take in your head and don’t forget. We praised God for all He had just done and the man took his walking stick, but had it hung in mid air as he walked away with his own two feet. AMAZING!
The second man came and had lower back pain. When he showed us and tried moving around you could see him struggling and in pain. We came together and laid hands on him. In Jesus Name we prayed for the pain to go away, for the man to be freed from back aches. Now I have seen and prayed for a few men who had back pains not just today but throughout the week. What stood out for me for this particular incident was his response. After we prayed he got up as I was asking how he felt and did a twist motion asking him to move around. When he did the twist motion you could see the range of motion be completely different and his facial expression and joy on his face as he did that was priceless. He had been healed because he believed Jesus can.
What was amazing about this morning was not just the healing and seeing Jesus work in such a powerful way, but the prisoners who had a desire to know Jesus more, to want to read His Word more and strengthen their belief in Jesus. It’s not ‘be healed and then your faith restored/renewed’. Its ‘your faith has healed you’.
In this session, I was responsible for helping out at the prayer for healing section. I volunteered because after listening about the miracles yesterday at Arogana, concerning the healing of the deaf and blind man, I felt like I had received a calling from God and had a sudden urge to pray the next day.
To be honest, I was afraid and doubted myself. I always thought that people who were capable of praying for the sick would be those that were either a pastor or the elders who had more experience. Before the session started, I approached Hui Yun because she had prayed the day before. I asked: “What if I prayed 3-4 times and the person is still not healed?” Then she replied: “Emily, what makes you think that way, you should have faith, it is God who heals, you should not doubt yourself… and Him.” She reminded me again that the Holy Spirit living in Jesus that heals is also living in me. I was quite disappointed with myself. I should not have doubted but move in faith and believe that everyone who believes in Him can heal in His name.
I followed Ken to pray for our very first prisoner, he had problems with his eyesight and was deaf in the left ear. Ken started praying and I placed my hand on his hand. Halfway through the prayer, I felt a sudden tingling in my left ear and I could hear clearer. I believe that God’s healing power is so strong that the people who pray can also feel His power working in them. When the prayer ended, the man could see clearer and his left ear was fully healed. We praised the Lord and rejoiced!
The next prisoners were prayed by us individually. I knew that this time I was alone and I had to be confident. No more backing away. However, the fear of failing to heal a person entirely still haunts me. The next few prisoners had good health and hence I just prayed that God would bless them with a better and healthier life in the future. I thank God that the prisoners that I had to pray for had minor health issues only because that way, I did not have to worry too much about the outcome.
After a while, Jo brought a man who had pain in the knee. One of his legs could not bend entirely as it hurt. She put down his medicine and pointed in my direction. The look in her eyes showed that she was 100 percent sure that God could heal him. I told myself, I had to shake it all off and just lay everything to Him. I placed my hands on his knee and started praying. My tears rolled down uncontrollably as I felt God touching me. After my last sentence, “In the name of Jesus, be healed, Amen.”, I opened my eyes and there was a huge smile on the prisoner’s face and he was glowing inside and out. His pain was entirely gone and he could bend his knee actively! I could not really express verbally how I felt at that moment. My tears kept flowing. I told Jo about the great news and she started sobbing, amazed by God’s miracles. We hugged each other tightly and praised the Lord with all our hearts.
I thank God for showing me that we could conquer our fears through Him, and all of us can heal if we move strongly in faith. I will never forget this moment of being tested by God as it had transformed me mentally and spiritually.
Dental and Medical Clinic
Thursday brought us to our third and final prison visit in Oras. This prison was set up very differently to the previous two, as the main prison building was surrounded by a compound where the families of those incarcerated could live and interact with their loved ones whilst in jail. As a result, there was a very social feel to the compound and the inmates. Dental and medical clinics were once again set up very quickly and performed very efficiently, treating all the patients that required help. This allowed us some extra time to treat other family members who lived in the compound also. As a thank you, the prisoners performed several songs they’d composed for us on a variety of homemade instruments.
On Tuesday and Thursday, we delivered the medical and dental clinics in prisons in the local towns. We visited 2 prisons in Delores on the Tuesday, and a third in Oras on the Thursday. As part of the service, we aimed to provide the prisoners with some basic but practical education as to how they can benefit and manage their own health within an otherwise very limiting environment. Lower back pain is a common medical issue throughout the world and is more prevalent in these prisons, due to their cramped nature and the inability to exercise freely. We therefore felt that we could help to improve the quality of life of the prisoners by teaching them some simple but effective techniques for managing lower back pain.
Gloria and I led the sessions with some help from Ken, and we used publicly available material published by Arthritis Research UK (see www.arthritisresearchuk.org) as the basis for the sessions. The first thing we did in each prison was ask how many of the prisoners ever have back pain: unsurprisingly, the majority of prisoners raised their hands in response.
Next, we shared some helpful information about back pain. We highlighted how common and debilitating back pain can be but reassured that the majority of cases are not due to serious underlying conditions. In fact, most cases of back pain are due to poor posture, lack of exercise, and simple muscle sprains. While this is the case, we must also recognise that some cases of back pain may represent a more serious underlying condition. As well as the presence of prolonged severe pain, indicators suggesting that this may be the case include difficulty going to the toilet, weakness, and changes in physical sensation. We shared all this information with the prisoners also, with the help of Pastora Fely who acted as interpreter. If any of these symptoms are present, it is important that medical attention is sought.
We also wanted to provide the prisoners with some ways they could help themselves when they have back pain. The most important piece of advice is to try and exercise regularly. While this may be difficult in the conditions faced by the prisoners, there are some simple exercises endorsed by Arthritis Research UK which have been shown to improve symptoms of back pain! All these exercises are easy to perform and require very little space – we therefore felt that these would be appropriate to teach the prisoners as a practical way they could help alleviate symptoms of back pain. We ran through the five key exercises with the prisoners and demonstrated how to perform the exercises. The prisoners seemed very receptive and thankful in all the prisons we visited, and we hope that they find the information we provided useful!
Patient education is the most effective and empowering thing that can be done to alleviate many simple medical complaints, such as non-specific back pain. Therefore, we educated the prisoners as to the benign nature of most cases of back pain, the indicators that may suggest a more serious underlying cause, and practical back exercises which have been shown to alleviate simple back pain. In doing so, we hope to have provided simple but very real benefit to prisoners who are troubled by back pain.
At the end of the session, we gave out freebies and the prisoners sang and dedicated their own written songs for us. There were also around 10 prisoners who got baptised that morning. It was a touching moment, knowing that their lives had changed because of Jesus. I thank God for how good He is.
Sharing, Medical & Dental Clinic
Our second session in the afternoon was at the church in Delores. The number of villagers who came were less than expected. However, it was actually good that there were not many because most of us were quite exhausted that day.
The afternoon saw us return to Dolores, where clinics were provided for the local congregation alongside a church service. The dental team was struggling for energy by this clinic, with myself and Chris taking a break from the dentistry and Jason taking a lead role with patients. Extracting teeth can be hard work! But by slowing the pace down we prepared ourselves well for the next day in Santa Monica.
The afternoon came quickly as we continued on and energy levels were starting to drop for the team. I could see some feeling tired an exhausted from all that we had done - and Delores was projected to be a lot of people like the year before - but God is Good!
After worship I went to preach on the topic ‘What Faith Can Do’ with Wynne and Jess.
I remember as I was sharing and talking - a warmth from sharing what God had done in my life. It could have been the heat or my nervousness! But I remember a sense of joy coming from me as I shared with some of the people in Delores. It was a relatively short talk which was an eye opener for me - how much preparation is really needed when sharing and preaching. What was amazing though was as I sat back down and Pastora Fely wrapping up, the last person was called up to go be seen by the clinic - and that was it. Everyone who wanted to come to be seen had been seen. It wasn’t as busy as last year and I believe it was God giving us an opportunity to rest. He knew the energy and tiredness of our team members, and he used this time to give us a chance to recharge our batteries. He knew it was going to happen that in my preparation, He didn’t get me to prepare any more then needed. He didn’t need to me to say any more than what was required. The timing was just right in God’s plan.
@ San Isidro
Evening Devotion with Children
My evening ended with the children back at River of Life Mission church where I helped Alfie and Gloria with their session. And it was out chance to teach the children a new song called ‘My Lighthouse’! It was great seeing the kids really learning the actions to the song as well as getting involved with the evening session led by our team!
Youth Leaders Ministry + Training
After we all finished dinner, a few of us headed upstairs for the youth leaders service whilst other’s stayed downstairs to help with the children's session. After discussing the elements of the night with Hui King, Ai Seok and Naomi, we started off the session with some worship.
Worship itself was definitely a large highlight of the trip. Clarie, one of the youth leaders for example (though she’s only 18) would constantly be attached to her guitar and at any given free moment would break into worship in obvious overflow of her heart. It’s a way of life acquired by everyone there, even the toddlers. So pure and natural, no hindrance of chord sheets on iPads or lyrics on Phones, their gaze was only fixed firmly on the One who it was all directed to.
On this particular night a phrase during the song Hosanna was really powerful, "I see a near revival, stirring as we pray and seek, we’re on our knees..." Amen. Something amazing was happening right there and then, and indeed it was and will be carried onto completion.
The key highlight of this night, mediated by the sharing prior, was definitely the 12am prayer that tied this session together. It was amazing to see how eager all the youth were to pray for Pastora Fely. For the young to uplift and encourage their mentor. Their prayers were raw, powerful and unending. Their utmost praise was directed at God as they were crying out their love and thanksgiving for the work he had done through her mission in all these years. You could see the impact in the community that she had made in Jesus’ name. The faithfulness she had to come back to her village, and the divine providence God had placed before her. It reminded me to pray for the leaders in my church, to support them as we journey as one body in the Church.
The night settled with everyone buzzing with the spirit and wishing to carry on, however the verse ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’ (Matthew 26:41) was so, so true. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep in record time after the debrief.
God really provided this day. In all that we needed, all that needed to be done. We forget sometimes our basic needs and think things can be an uphill battle. But God is our provider. He is a powerful God who knows no end. He has done SO much already and I know He will continue to do so much through this week. God is Good All the Time!
At night, when most of us had already fallen asleep, Mark and Jim, the helpers who had to stay awake until all of us fell asleep every night were still wide awake. Some of us asked Mark whether they were tired, he said: “Yes, we are tired, but our spirit is still strong!”. We also thanked them for assisting us. However, instead of saying you are welcome or it’s their pleasure, he replied: “I am not serving you, I am serving God! You should thank God!” All these inspiring and humble answers had blown me away. I could see how hungry they are for God. They related almost everything in their daily life to God and praised Him constantly. I reflected upon this and asked myself, why can’t I be like them? I used to be content with my own faith, but they let me realise how much more that I am lacking and pushed me to grow even further spiritually. I had seen plenty and discovered more about my relationship with God throughout this first mission trip of mine. I thank God for BLi and everyone involved because I am not the same anymore.