Philippines 2017_Day 5
Things were different this morning.
In one of the meetings prior to the trip, Hui King had wisely advised us to be prepared for plans to change; for us to be flexible. And indeed, items on the itinerary had already began to shift and some plans were cancelled out completely, but being adaptable and fluid worked - it meant totally relying on the Spirit, for one! It's also how at last night's late night debrief I ended up volunteering for one of the preaching slots this afternoon. With each debrief session, we spoke of the presence of God; seeing His healing hand perform miracles; the moving of the Holy Spirit more than the day before; our eyes were being opened to more and more of God's power at work every place we went; and the utter dependence we had upon Him, as exemplified by the brothers and sisters we'd been serving alongside this past week. And so, it was by faith that I managed to usher out the words that I was willing to share a message. But what was I to share? I'm a planner and ideas tend to come slowly. It took me weeks to prepare for the kids ministry and Tuesday's seminar - now I only had a few hours to put together a sermon... and sleep?! I closed my eyes and prayed for a word, or a vision... something that God wanted me to share. Literally all I could sense for the first few moments was like I was back on the boat. Just a sense of rocking. I opened my eyes and dismissed it, and closed my eyes again. The same thing. All I could feel was like I was still on the boat. But then the message outline unfolded from there. I wondered if the people in San Isidro and neighbouring villages still felt the same even though they travel by boat so often? How easy it is for us to get used to plodding along in life but when storms seem to suddenly appear and wipe away all that we have ever worked for, lived for, hoped for; it rocks our faith, we worry and become anxious, and it's difficult to hold on. But our God, as it would be shared in the morning devotions from Psalm 33:15, is the One who created us and understands everything we do. He is our Heavenly Father who, like a parent soothing their child, will hold us and rock us in His arms to gives us the reassurance that things will be fine and He's got everything in control.
And so I arose, blurry eyed, and made my way downstairs just in time for 6am devotions. Once again I was moved by the worship and His Word. Thankful to the Holy Spirit for the sisters who were sensitive to His guidance in choosing the songs and passage to start the day.
I will bless the Lord forever
And I will trust Him at all times
He has delivered me from all sin
And He has set my feet upon a rock
And I will not be moved
And I'll say of the Lord
You are my shield, my strength
My portion, Deliverer
My shelter, strong tower
My very present help in time of need
It's the fourth day of the medical/dental mission trip. The past three days have been nothing short of exceptional. As I joined the trip straight after a business trip in Malaysia, it took me a while to adjust from work to mission. However, God has been so good and faithful in preparing not just myself but also the team, as well as the leaders in ROLM; building up our faith and hunger each day to anticipate more of Him to move through and before us.
Waking up for the 6am devotion this morning, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the mid-week service last night where God moved in such a tangible and mighty way touching the lives of people in the church. The strong sense of peace from last night was still lingering in my heart as I joined the children in devotion. A little thought behind my head was thinking, "God showed up in such a strong way, surely things would not get any better than that, would it"?
Of course I was completely wrong.
The worship led by Clarie this morning was very different. The presence of God again was very tangible and I could not help but fall on my knees in worship. Later I saw that most of the team were overcome by the morning worship in tears. Alice led us in a bible study and we ended with a song. I knew it in my spirit that God was going to do great things that day.
Jung Yin Tsang
Magandang Araw! Dr Tsang signing in for Thursday's post. Words simply cannot explain the wonderful experiences that have happened in the Philippines, but I hope to give you a few glimpses of some of the blessings that God granted upon us.
All the orphans we have met at San Isidro have been filled with such joy. I’ve visited many places, such as Canada and Africa to do medical work, but these kids are just something else. They wake up on time every day in time to start devotion at 6am and praise God all the way till after evening workshops and church services that run many times during the week. Daily they sing out with all their heart, praising God in sessions of spirit filled free worship and being very appreciative of the little things in life. The Spirit of God was with this place…you could just feel it in your skin and bones…from the worship songs that filled the whole village, to the smiles and love shown by the orphans and people there.
Personally I had an astonishing experience during devotion: being filled with the Spirit - some of you will think what the heck I am on about, and I can’t explain it in human logic myself. As a skeptical man of science, I like logical tangible things. But that morning, as I was quietly praying, I suddenly felt a wave of being overwhelmed and had floods of peaceful tears streaming down my face. For a few minutes I couldn’t stop…I didn’t feel sad or emotional, just peaceful and filled with joy. I am not an emotional person: I don't cry about life and death within my medical jobs, I don’t cry at funerals … about the only situations where I cry are certain Disney films like Big Hero 6. Joking aside, nothing could explain the feeling that I felt for me, except being in the presence of the Spirit.
And just as if God knew my doubt…I felt the same feeling again within the next outreach destination. We travelled to the Oras prison complex by boat then bus for about 2 hours. For my sermon at the prison, I felt compelled to pray and spend quiet time with God … God gradually gave me the faith to use the time to depend on Him and His guidance rather than using it doing human planning or preparing. As a planner, I was understandably a bit nervous, but God is so faithful and gave me a bible verse (Luke 18:9-14) and words to preach to the prisoners. It was such a blessing to share God’s word with them using the guidance of the Spirit and call on them for repentance and prayer. It was humbling to boldly stretch out my hands across the barbed wire to lay on hands and pray for those that came forward to accept Christ or to repent. As I prayed for prisoners, I could just sense the presence of God; His glory again overcame me, and I could do nothing but tear up mid-prayer. Logically speaking, this could have been quite an awkward thing to do, as many of the prisoners would not have fully understood my prayer in English, and hence a period of awkward silence, with a grown man tearing up in front of them for no apparent reason could have been a strange situation. Yet, I feel that they too felt the presence of the Lord as they did not flinch or speak at these times. How good a God He is that He loves each and every one of us so much, even through all our sins and transgressions!
It was amazing to also hear that Pastora Fely and the some of the villagers and prisoners had been praying for a medical and dental mission team to arrive for over 10 years. Such an area which was difficult to get to and hence most orphans and prisoners had no access to healthcare during this time. It was difficult for me not to believe that we were an answer to their prayers … the place was an hour flight from the Capital, then an additional 4 hours minibus ride plus another 40 mins by boat, with no internet or phone lines … In addition, in terms of publicity and poorer countries, you think of Africa, Cambodia, Haiti, but the East Philippines does not pop into your mind even though there has been tsunamis and typhoons. In such a remote location and with such a low profile, it was only after hearing the testimonies from other members of the events that led up to our trip that I really saw how this was part of God’s plan.
Oras prison was the third prison that we have visited. Even though so, I could not help but feel slightly apprehensive walking into a prison with bolt wires and prisoners. However, the love that the ROLM and mission team brought into the prison quickly changed the atmosphere. I absolutely loved the worship session that we had with the prisoners. Many of us were amazed when the prisoners started worshipping with loud voices and instruments in the bolt wired area. Seemingly caged from freedom, I knew when I heard their voices that their hearts were free and they have found peace in the God that their songs were singing about.
Jason and Jung Yin both shared such heartfelt messages to the prisoners that one could almost tear up. Even though two of them were separated from the audience by a harsh rusted wall of wires, there was no division as any wall of differences were broken down through the honour, humility and love shown by these two medical professionals to the prisoners whom have very different background, education and profession. “Even though I am a doctor, and society perceives me in a very honourable way, I am no different from you; I am your brother in Christ,” Jung Yin said in a loving and honourable manner. It was indeed beautiful.
While the two gentlemen were preaching, the clinics and prayers continued where the patients were lined up to see Henna and Rick for medical and dental check-up. Prayers for the sick continued at the pharmacy after handing out medication. Although not all of us were accustomed to praying for healing, a lot of the team stepped out in faith to lay hands on the sick as Jesus mentioned in the Bible and prayed for the sick. God was faithful and there was not a moment where we were not rejoicing in a healing or a pain that was gone after our prayers. One man in particular could not hold up his right arm but, after praying, he could lift it up much higher than before. Words of knowledge were also received for some of the people where prayers were given specifically towards a situation or a person through His knowledge, and that really touched the person receiving the prayers.
We rested back in San Isidro for a late lunch before heading off to Libertad, a village 5 minutes boat ride away. We were off schedule for some hours and arrived late at Libertad, but the villagers gathered at the church, whom have been waiting for hours without notice, were still there waiting for us patiently. The clinic was to be set up within a house right beside the church with very little room. The team again showed amazing teamwork and the place was set up within 15 minutes. The love of God was very tangible before the clinics and preaching even started as everything seemed to just gel into place. People at each station gathered together to pray before starting the job at hand. The act of surrendering ourselves and choosing to depend on God was indeed beautiful! By the time we were ready to start off, it was sunset. The people gathered all around the church and in the church. It was exciting!
Yin and Naomi each took a session of preaching in the church, while the rest of the team were working on the clinics beside the church. There was not enough space for the pharmacy to be in the building so it was stationed literally on the streets! Benson and I were hence by the streets giving out prescriptions and praying for the patients after. It was such joy to pray and with the locals of the village. God was again healing all sorts of pain. The change in countenance of the people brought so much joy to us.
Yin Tse & Henna Tan & Naomi Akizuki
Oras Prison / Libertad
The servant heart of the ROLM team is so touching. Their selflessness in ensuring we stayed cool and hydrated whilst the medical/dental clinics ran at the Oras prison is something to take away – so very thankful to each of them for the immense help they have given to us and this missions trip. Each section had a helper/translator from the ROLM team and they got stuck in and helped where they could as well as helped translate. However, there were the odd times where things got lost in translation...
With one of the patients Henna saw, she asked if he wanted painkiller (the patient understood some English when they conversed earlier so the translator, Margie, stopped translating and was distracted). But the patient replied, 'no'. Henna asked again, but he said, 'no' and kept saying no. Henna got confused because she didn't understand - why wouldn't anyone want free meds? She asked one last time, "are you sure you don't want any pain killers?" At this point, Margie finally caught on to what was happening and asked in Tagalog whether he wanted any painkillers. Then the patient turned to Margie and said, "I'm not a killer, not a killer!"
Their laughter as the confusion came to light was refreshing and it was nice to see the interaction everyone was having. The session drew to a close with a couple more songs from the prisoners – they had a little band going on with a hand made drum kit of sorts! So amazing and creative! We returned to San Isidro for a quick late lunch before heading over to Libertad.
The ROLM team quickly helped us set up the clinics in amongst the large number of people who had turned up and were waiting patiently to be seen; some having made the journey from neighbouring villages across the river. Whilst we were also keen to not make them wait any longer, it was humbling to see fellow team members come together in prayer and committing the time to God before anything actually started. As Naomi and I made our way to the church (literally next door from the clinics), we shared briefly with each other what we had prepared. Naomi's message spoke boldly about God making us a 'new creation – the old had gone and the new has come' and the power He gives us to live in victory in a new life with the old life dead and buried. An altar call was given and many stood up and went up for prayer. During the service, at least a couple of people gave their lives to Christ (most were Christians already). I went up to pray for those wanting to receive prayer. Now, in amongst the team there are some who are very gifted in prayer. I've heard of many miracles happening this week already and yet, if I'm honest, although I truly believe God heals, I did feel weary about my own prayers of healing for others... almost as if my prayers 'won't work as well', even though I also have faith that God listens to my prayers. And as God would have it, whilst I prayed to not have to pray for healing for others, His funny sense of humour saw to it otherwise. Not one or two but three people in a row asked me to pray for healing for them! Thankfully one of the girls, Leslie, was around to help translate and also pray. Although none of them said that they were healed after we had prayed, it was still a humbling experience and outward step of faith, just like Erlinda, a lady who had come to the service thinking she wouldn't have the opportunity to be seen. She thought she would at least benefit from some spiritual input in coming to the service, and during the message, God healed her but she was also able to see the doctor after all. She was so excited that God had healed her before even seeing the doctor! I was so encouraged to hear of her testimony and to see the joy and excitement of her being set free from the pains she had been experiencing!
Things started gearing up when Alice, Abegail and the triage pointed out a man with all his fingers folded inwards due to a serious burnt injury. He also had a very serious wound infection on his hands that were still open. It was told that he did not attend church after the incident. In normal circumstances, I would usually feel again apprehensive, but this was different as I recalled a dream that I had many years ago about praying for someone without fingers. In the dream, after holding his hand and praying for him, the fingers grew out. I knew God had prepared me for this, as again in any other situations, I may be overcome by the fear of praying.
I hold the man’s hand in mine and I started praying. I felt a sudden sensation while praying for him that I started crying. The man was not healed of his finger situation but he told us that he felt “very light”. I gave him a hug and also some medication prescribed by the doctors. After this man, I joined Benson who was praying for a boy with a deaf right ear. Still feeling overwhelmed from praying for the last man, I did not think much and started to command the boy’s right ear to be open, like how Jesus did when he prayed for the deaf. I then snapped my fingers by the boy’s right ear and asked if he could hear. Without much expression, he said, "yes". I was a little confused at the moment as I thought it might have been mistranslation and he was actually not deaf. I went into the clinic to double check with the doctors. Both of them said yes he was deaf, and the father sitting in the clinic also had a deaf ear! I brought the father out to the pharmacy area and started praying for his ears too. Within a few minutes the deaf ear was able to hear again! I was surprised at what God was doing! Right after rejoicing with the father and son, another boy was sent over whom had noise in both his ears. We prayed for the little boy in red and within minutes he said there was no more noise.
Brother Tony, the leader of that local church, came over and said the father and son, Danny and Daniel, who were healed of deaf ears, has a younger daughter who was also deaf in one of her ears. She could not come because she was in another village at that time, so we decided to pray for her nonetheless.
The night carried on as we tried to digest what had just happened. Did that actually happen? What just happened? The deaf could hear now?? The questioning could not continue for too long as Danny went and brought Daniela, his daughter, to be prayed for. We went into the church to meet Daniela and together with Ps Fely and Ai Seok, we sat down and started praying for Daniela. She still could not hear in her left ear after 3 times of praying. I knew if God had healed her father and brother, He would definitely heal Daniela too. We prayed again for her left ear and this time around, as I snapped my fingers beside her ears to check, tears started flowing down her eyes as she nodded. We all shouted in joy! Ps Fely and Ai Seok led Daniela to the sinner’s prayer. Though hesitant at first, she prayed the prayer and we were all filled with joy.
The night did not end there! Right after praying for Daniela, Brother Tony showed up at the door with a man in a yellow T-shirt. His name was Emiliano and he had been deaf in both ears since he was 6. Word had gone out that God was healing ears in the church and people gathered around the church. Again we prayed for Emiliano for both ears; as I held them in both my hands, proclaiming a miracle on him in Jesus' name. Soon after, his left ear could hear and he was nodding as I continued to check. We prayed for his right ear for a few times and during the last prayer, Emiliano’s encountered change as his right ear is healed! Praise be to God for His power and His faithfulness! I believe the healing not only changed Emiliano, it has also changed the people around whom were watching and witnessing how God is alive and powerful, and how He heals!
I, for one, am truly touched deep within. I was overwhelmed to the point that I was not sure what was happening. I have read about Jesus performing miracles. I have heard of great miracles God did through His servants. I have also witnessed healings many times in my life, but to witness a miracle of this degree, it has totally changed my perspective of who God is and how real and powerful He is. I knew from this day onwards, after experiencing His power in such a personal way, I could never be able to live my life the same. Of that I am sure too for all those that were touched by God that day, especially Emiliano.
Jung Yin Tsang
In the evening, we arrived at Libertad to run further medical and dental clinics. We used the house of a local pastor, which had a church building next to it, from the River of Life mission team. I felt really blessed to hear a message going on in the background whilst doing medical work, and although tired, this gave me the energy to continue seeing patient after patient. Unfortunately the house was not big enough and the triage and pharmacy had to be stationed out on the streets. But this was a blessing as most of the village came to see us at work and many were able to hear the word and experience some of the healings. Indeed, we experienced a lot of healing that I could not explain by medical terms, but only through prayer. In particular, I remember seeing a 16 year old boy whom had hearing loss since young, which was likely some congenital cause. When I examined him, he did not respond to any commands verbally when I was behind him … yet later, when he was prayed for, I saw him healed and able to hear and responsive to words behind him and clicks in his ears. It was beautiful to see the joy and celebration whilst I continued my medical clinic. Praise God for His wonders and power!
This short mission trip has simply been life-changing. I’ve developed such a love for this place and the people here that I never thought I would. Praise God for His presence there and being so powerful and true. If any of you is even remotely interested in hopping along for the next trip, I’d greatly implore you to go and please do speak to any one of us for more information. God faithfully rewards His servants without fail and you will truly have an experience like no other.