Introduction by Mike Garner
A representative of empire once asked Jesus, "What is Truth?" We all seek for truthfulness in our relationships and interactions with others. For the poor and oppressed or for the deluded masses swayed by propaganda, truth is maintained by lies and violence. In a world where truth is crucified on a cross the lie of the poor to defend themselves is more honest than the judges gavel. The poor do not owe me the truth, and I owe them more than the crumbs from my table. How many lies would you tell to bring relief to the daily suffering of abject poverty inflicted upon you like a relentless desert sun? The poor lie but the powerful kill. My students have had to learn this simple truth that the poor do not owe them the truth. Behind the lie is pain and suffering immeasurable and the lie is their only defense.
Less than Man’s Best Friend
by Chris Cameron and Megan Jarreld
The streets of Olongapo are crowded and chaotic by day and the nights continue with pain and suffering that is hidden in the dark. Around midnight, most of the city’s residents have gone home except for those whose home is the streets. We have gone out to love these forgotten people by bringing them gifts of food. We have met Aeta people that have come down from the mountains to sell their goods in the city and spend the night on the very dangerous streets of Olongapo. We have met orphaned children without hope or help trying to survive a world where people are not treated with dignity and value. We have had twelve year old girls offer us "boom boom" so that they might get some money and some food to eat. We have also met people whose minds are lost to drugs as they try to endure the pain of their lives.
Though homeless people can be found in many places in Olongapo at night many of them can be found at City Hall. On the stairs of the building where powerful people make decisions for the city all day long sleep the hungry powerless people whom their decisions affect. The presence of these forgotten people so close to the place where they are supposed to be remembered makes clear the failures of the wealthy leaders of society. Every society is judged by how they treat their weakest members and when children are bought and sold for sex and lives are ruined by the pain of neglect that society is failing. The homeless here in Olongapo City are human beings who deserve to be treated better. Following the teaching and life of Jesus, we feed the hungry and seek to meet their needs.
At the top of the Mountain
by Ty Mathews
The Aeta are a group of people indigenous to the Philippines that have endured Spanish, Japanese, and American rule. Small communities of Aeta families exist all throughout the mountainous countryside. They have maintained their agrarian culture and are a non-violent people. In the past month we have made 3 visits to an Aeta Community on a mountain called ‘Bangka-Bangka’.
The community at Bangka-Bangka consists of 8 families living in bamboo huts. A typical day begins with waking up before the sunrise and walking 5 hours to sell fruit and vegetables at the city market. The men endure this walk by strapping 100-200 pound bags of food on their back. This physically difficult life is further compounded with the Aeta’s lack of education on health and access to medical aid. At Bangka-Bangka these circumstances have produced only 3 adults over the age of 35 in a community of 60 people.
We look forward to our continued relationship with the Aeta families at Bangka-Bangka. During our time together the adults requested that we come back and teach them to read, write, and study the Bible.
Saan ang pag-ibig?
By Sue Jarreld ("Mama Sue")
Where is the love? Everywhere I go here I see big beautiful expensive churches that are in slums like Pag-asa, the neighborhoods of Barretto, Calapadayan, Angeles City, next to bars, on the streets where homeless people sleep and the children beg for food. I look at these churches and wonder how many people could have been fed, clothed, sheltered and medical needs met with the money spent on these buildings. Has the church ever known how to be the light in the darkness? I pray that they forget about the beautiful buildings. I pray that they see the people and realize God wants to use them as instruments to provide a “safety zone” for others. He wants them to help the poor, oppressed workers, oppressed women of the bars, the homeless, the Aeta people and the children of the streets. My challenge to the church is show God’s love, stop human trafficking, stop the injustices, help empower the people, help give them a voice, and close the sex bars.
A Summary of Immersion Training for Team One (May 11 to June 13)
by Joel and Rachel Olson
We have experienced more in the last 5 weeks than many missionaries will experience in a full term of service. Perhaps the claim may seem outrageous, but the fact that it is even a possibility says something about the way modern missions are done. Below is a summary of some of the lessons learned from the experiences gained.
Pag-asa – We learned that in the late 70s the city dump was closed and given to people to begin development. Today the people who stay there are treated like the trash they live on. Piled on top of one another in shacks too deteriorated to call homes, their community floods unnecessarily because the river is neglected by the powerful. Trash that was once brought in by trucks still flows into this area, but now it is done on the backs of young boys who pick through it just trying provide for their families. They receive only 15 pesos per kilogram of plastic, the equivalent of 32¢. They smile when they greet us, they laugh as we share stories, but behind their smiles are lives filled with hardship and tears.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Endangered Guardians – We have experienced first hand the difficulties of working with women who have been enslaved. We have learned that these women, who have been subjected to this dehumanizing industry that gives them a number and a price for their life, do not owe the powerful the truth. Though our overwhelming desire is to love them, teach them, and ultimately see the bars shut down, our presence among them resembles the very ones that abuse and rape them – we are after all, white westerners. We can’t expect the truth from them. It’s going to take an incredible amount of patience, commitment, persistence, and prayer to undo the damage. This is a dangerous, complex industry and we have a lot to learn. It was the West who introduced this enslavement, and now we are a group of westerners giving our lives to see these endangered guardians redeemed
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
Oppressed Workers – We learned that the mistreatment of the Filipino worker stems from the greed of corporations who refuse to share in the wealth generated by the lives of their Filipino slaves. They have a created a system that exploits unemployment, luring thousands of men in with a chance to have a consistent job, and have affectively separated men from their families for weeks, months, or even years. If one man quits, if one man speaks up, if one man loses his life, there are 50 men ready to take his place. It is upon this truth that these corporations build their empires.
Blessed are those who hunger and search for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Aeta – Behind their serene existence lays a reality that few encounter. It is not clear who is the biggest threat to the Aete. Is it the city that tells them their bamboo homes are primitive, their skin is too dark to fit in and their children are not worth being educated? Or is it the missionary that tells them Sunday must be spent in a hot concrete building, that they should wait in line to receive food and that they are only worth something when their souls are going to heaven? The Aeta way of life contains so much potential, and it is necessary to ensure that they remain unmolested by the world, while at the same time receiving the education they desire.
Blessed are the meek, for the will inherit the earth.