The rainy weather last weekend did not dampen our encouraging and productive trip to South Luzon, joining our Baao Church for their 30 anniversary celebration, meeting our Bicol pastors and emerging leaders, and spending time with several churches. With me also were Architect Russell Neils Meimban, Orly Osillos, Noel Tabin, and engineer Crispian Fajardo (who celebrated his birthday by helping with rehabilitation work for those affected by Typhoon Nina several months ago). Rehab work is a long process, and it does not only involve physical repair but helping people restore their livelihood and recover from the trauma. What a great blessing that we have a big GCI family, including our American brethren who have helped in these relief and rehabilitation efforts.
STA TERESITA, COTMON AND TABACO CHURCH VISITS
One of the churches we visited was Sta. Teresita where we shared with some 45 parents and their children in the Oyango tribe the value of devotion towards teaching, fellowship, prayer and sense of communion with God. Watching the faces of the children as we interacted with them was one of my highlights. We also gave additional support for the repair work, with Architect Russel providing construction guidelines on safety, hygiene, using indigenous materials and team effort in building.
We met with brethren in Cotmon and discussed livelihood options planting high value crops to replace their damaged crops. Architect Russel got good drone pictures of the vicinity to help design a more ecologically friendly and resilient community where most of our brethren live. We then drove to Tabaco to catch up for worship and meet with the other leaders concerning ministry updates.
HONORING OUR SOLDIERS, PRAYING FOR PEACE
From Albay, I flew back to Manila last Monday morning, June 12, which is when our country marked our 119th year of independence. While we celebrate national freedom, we know that war continues. Having been reading and hearing so much about the Marawi conflict, and knowing that the remains of our fallen soldiers were being returned to Manila, I felt strongly compelled to pay my respects to them and their families as an expression of gratitude.
I went to the Philippine Marines headquarters and was able to condole with the group of family members waiting for the bodies of their loved ones to arrive. I spoke with the widows and orphans and thanked them on behalf of my family and our church for the immense sacrifices of their men for us all. Soon after, a slow motorcade came bearing the remains of six soldiers including those of 1st Lieutenant Savellano and Lieutenant Abad. It was a sobering experience. It is one thing to see their pictures in the news, but it was something else to see their silent faces and still bodies in uniform, now lying in caskets. We remember the price they are paying for our freedom, and we are reminded of the great love of God, expressed fully in Jesus Christ, who made the supreme sacrifice that man may be free.
Let us remember the families of those brave young men who died in battle, those who are still alive and fighting, and the many who are displaced by the conflict. Let us pray for our leaders and our nation, that there may be lasting peace. Let us live out the love of Christ, towards understanding and unity, and let us take action where we can as God’s hands and feet in this world.
Psalm 29:10-11: The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!