Institute Students and Filipino Interns
Serve Together Over Holiday Break
On December 10th I departed with a team of students from the Institute for G.O.D. on a trek to the Philippines for what would become a memorable 5-week Immersion experience. Immersions are ministerial opportunities built into the Institute curriculum that give students an opportunity to live out the word of God they’ve learned from the Scripture and to practice the missiological concepts gleaned from their Community Development courses while learning the norms of the culture that’s hosting them.
The plans for the first week of the trip were altered by Typhoon Urduja, which became a tropical depression by the time it hit Leyte, where we're located. We were flooded in for three days. Despite the difficulties this brought, it gave the team a picture of an unfortunate regular struggle for people living in such climates. The Philippines is one of four countries listed as the riskiest in terms of natural disasters. Things like flooding often cause school cancellations and the cessation of regular city operations, much like snow does in the southern parts of the United States. Fortunately, we were flooded in with several of our ministry interns, which allowed for quality times of relationship building and Bible Study.
Our Filipino friends who regularly visit Tahanan, our community center, were on winter break and were able to join us on all of our ministry efforts during our 5 weeks in the Philippines. These included a SLAM (Students Living a Mission) Bible Talk focused on Deuteronomy 8, four children's camps that focused on value education and games, regular ministry at both the men and women’s prisons in Tacloban, and maintenance work on the community center garden. The students were able to apply their biblical education and preach life-giving sermons in all of these venues.
We were also able to establish a relationship with Pawing National High School in Tacloban. As an annex of the main school in the city, this particular school receives less funding and is lacking necessary resources. We were able to supplement their teacher training for the Spring semester using materials and experiences gained from working at the Academy for G.O.D. The Immersion participants also kicked off the semester for the jr. high and high school with Values classes focused on conflict resolution and encouragement. The students had a great time and we’re hoping that the relationship we established will lead to further ministry with the wonderful staff and students there.
All of these ministry opportunities were enhanced by the relationships the team was able to forge with our Filipino ministry interns during the flood days. We were very thankful to have their assistance in these endeavors and they felt blessed by the opportunity to work with us in ministry. One of them testified that his breaks usually consisted of singing or acting workshops but that this one was the most fulfilling and best he’s ever had because he was able to help meet the needs of people in his town. They also received almost daily Bible studies that helped fuel their participation.
On the whole these five weeks were fulfilling for the students. All of them testified to the benefit their education in the Word of God had on their experience, aiding them both in the practical sharing of the word but also sustaining them in moments of difficulty and fatigue. They all returned home with enthusiasm to continue learning the Word and a sense of family that has been forged with our friends and cooperatives who remain in the Philippines. The Lord is continuing to open up avenues for ministry in the Philippines and the people there are hungry for his word to do his will. Please be in prayer both for our students as they get back into classes and the ministry in the Philippines as it carries on in our absence.