Stories Of Redemption & Discipleship From The Philippines
Written By Kaitlyn Phillips
Think back to when you were a pre-teen or a teenager. Do you remember how badly you wanted to fit in? How you wanted to feel like you belonged in your group of peers? Maybe you didn’t get along well with your family, so you turned to your friends instead for solace and belonging. Now, escalate those stakes. Imagine you have no family, no one to look out for you. Your friends are your livelihood. You would do anything to stay under their band of protection, including robbery, drugs, or even killing someone who threatened your group. Your very survival depends on this group of individuals. This is the reality for teenagers in the Philippines.
Specifically, it was the reality of a young man named Richard. He grew up in the gang culture, living on the streets and learning how to steal just to live. His town consists of twenty-one gangs alone–what an astounding number. If he made the wrong choice, he was threatened. Once initiated, he was duty bound to defend that gang if necessary. Each member of the gang brought a different skill set to the group; Richard’s was thievery.
When he was in his early twenties, he decided something was missing from his life. He went to a Catholic church in his town, and simply asked, “Are you real?” He waited for God to reveal himself, but nothing happened. A pastor friend of his told Richard about his house church, and offered to have Richard visit and try it out. During this service, Richard had a powerful encounter with God, and he was determined to return to the church. After attending the house church for an extended period of time, he felt like he wanted to be a pastor, too; however, he couldn’t afford seminary. That’s when he learned some missionaries were opening a seminary in town. His pastor told Richard that the house church would sponsor him if he went to seminary. For two years, Richard was the only student in attendance. He graduated in a class of one.
Richard was not deterred, though. He felt he finally had the education he needed, and was equipped with the Scriptures to start reaching out to those around him. He started holding a weekly Bible study with some fellow gang members. This Bible study continued for several months. The men were growing in each other, and in God. Together, they decided they wanted to do something for their community: they wanted to feed the orphans.
That’s how Richard acquired the dream of Redemption Farm. He would gain a piece of land, teach agricultural skills to his gang friends, they’d harvest the food to feed the children, and all the while, he’d teach them about Jesus. Not only would this benefit the orphans, but it would get the teenagers and young men off the streets and give them an alternative to the gang lifestyle. Agriculture would become their new viable trade. One year later, Red Farm is a reality. Richard works along with his core group of 10-12 gang members, as well as a secondary group of men, to take care of the farm. Their group spans to about 30 people, with a representative from every single gang present. Red Farm is not only changing their lives–it’s shaking the very culture of this town in the Philippines.
In another part of the country, God is on the move in an indigenous people village. It is a very remote location as the people still abide by the customs and traditions of their ancestors. When a newcomer arrives, a ritual must be adhered to: the chief will first greet the stranger. Songs will be played by villagers, and the stranger will pay a respect offering of a few pesos to the chief. Then a “chicken test” will be administered. A chicken is slain, and its blood will determine if the stranger has good spirits or evil spirits about them. This is the deciding factor on whether or not the newcomer is welcomed into the village.
This village is where Manny now works as a pastor. He is a friend on the mission field, who runs another facet of what’s happening in the Philippines. He sees how these people live, how they respect the customs of the past, and how they want to thrive in the future. Manny has a mind for science and a heart for Jesus, and by combining these two things, he’s found a way to help the indigenous people. The people of the village have poorly made bricks, and their buildings are not very solid. He developed a formula for new, better bricks made from silt and rice husks. What are silt and rice husks, you may wonder? Silt is a material of granulated rock, essentially, that is smaller than grains of sand and collects on the bottom of bodies of water. Rice husks are the outside coverings of rice grains. Both of these items are waste products that Manny is recycling as brick material to give the people sturdier housing. His vision is to build a school in the village using these bricks.
These are just a few of the encounters that David Christopher and his team had while on their recent trip to the Philippines. David functions as the Conduit Mission Director, and leads several trips throughout the year. David is excited for how God is moving over there, and fully supportive of both of these endeavors. He sees the heart these men have for their neighbors. He is proud of Manny and Richard for their accomplishments thus far, and can’t wait to return and see their progress. David’s desire is to meet the practical needs of the people wherever he travels, as well as showing them Jesus. How can one do one task and not the other?
When asked what Conduit could be praying for in regards to these two projects, David replied, “Wisdom.” In the Philippines, the stakes are high and failure has consequences. It has been made evident in past mission endeavors that throwing money at a problem will not solve anything; what they need are leaders pouring into them, to rise up the next generation of leaders. Men like Richard and Manny need wisdom for how to continue their missions, handle funds intelligently, and speak into the younger people. They both feel they’re following God’s will and He’s called them to that place and time. Their goal is to use their resources and skills effectively, to the fullest.
A simple prayer request for David and Conduit Mission would be for continued financial provision so that these opportunities are met with the Gospel and the resources needed. For more information on how to be involved, or go on the next trip, please contact David Christopher (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.conduitmission.org.