Leaving behind a comfortable life one freezing Scottish January I went to live in a poverty-stricken country half way round the world. It couldn’t have been a bigger change for me as a British teenager.
I recently spent ten months with Christian Compassion Ministries (CCM), a ministry of Cubao Reformed Baptist Church seeking to provide for the spiritual and physical needs of the poor in Manila.
Our church has prayed for this work for so many years, but going to the Philippines and being personally involved was nothing compared to what I was expecting. Yet it was a real blessing to me.
The streets of Manila are filled with the homeless, many of whom have only a piece of cardboard to sleep on. Seeing tiny, malnourished children running barefoot on the streets was heart-breaking; and, even after almost a year, seeing them still like that made me want to just hand my purse over.
Witnessing first-hand the terrible poverty in the Manila slum areas was also truly shocking. I don’t think I could ever get used to seeing such conditions. CCM holds a weekly outreach event called the Drop-in Centre where volunteers cook and serve meals to the homeless, before teaching them from the Word of God.
As well as serving rice and soup, I was given the opportunity to teach the children’s class on several occasions and, nearing the end of my time there, was able to teach a simple lesson in Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines.
The work of the Drop-in Centre is challenging and tiring, but it is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to some of the poorest of Manila.
CCM has six residential homes for abused, neglected and orphaned children. Through these homes, the children have safety and shelter and the chance to learn about a heavenly Father who will never abuse or fail them.
Living in the CCM home for girls was challenging, full-on and noisy, but I loved it! Spending time with these girls, many scarred from their terrible pasts, was so special.
Building relationships of love and trust with them took time and patience, but it was a real privilege to have the opportunity to live with these children, help them with their education, and, most importantly, teach them from the Word of God each night.
My work ranged from editing English reports to running games on camps, to teaching a Bible story to children or an English class to adults. Packing food and clothes to take to flood victims and being a pharmacist on a medical mission were other enjoyable challenges.
CCM works in so many areas and helps so many people, there is always work to be done. Another outreach of CCM assists children from the slums with their education through sponsorship, and I was able to be involved in this too.
The lives of children and teenagers in the Philippines are so different to those of British teenagers. The culture, society and pressures they experience in many ways differ so much, but sharing the love of Christ is just as vital.
I don’t think I will ever see life in the UK the same again. What I’ve seen has really been heart-breaking. In many ways I wish there was more I could do to help these people, but I’d love it if the readers of ET would be able to join me in praying for this wonderful work. (If you’d like to receive a quarterly update to help you pray for this gospel ministry, please sign up at: www.ccmmanila.org/prayer).