A Changed Perspective

Institute for G.O.D. student, Brittan Botzum, is participating in a 5-week immersion experience this summer in the Philippines. While ministering alongside our regional team cooperatives, immersion students also receive lessons in Filipino history, culture, and language. The following is a reflection on Brittan’s visit to the Anibong Memorial, established post Typhoon Haiyan on the island of Leyte.

Written by Brittan Botzum

One day this past week the immersion students from the Institute and some of the Tahanan interns were playing and singing worship songs together. It was not a formal gathering, but it was a moment that the Lord used to speak to me. We began singing the song ‘Alive’ by All Sons and Daughters. As I was listening to this song I was thinking about the visit we took the day before to a memorial for Typhoon Haiyan. This specific memorial was a ship that had been thrown onto land, taking out the housing community along the shore. As we looked out beyond the memorial, makeshift homes were now set up in the same place that they had been completely wiped out from before.The issues felt countless as I looked around the area, and it’s overwhelming to think that many families live in the same location where they experienced so much trauma. Their community is at high risk of being destroyed again. It is a reality that they are constantly reminded of.      

Immersion students spend an afternoon at the Anibong memorial in Leyte. Lessons in history and culture are learned in light of God’s Word so that students can learn how to respond well in service.

Immersion students spend an afternoon at the Anibong memorial in Leyte. Lessons in history and culture are learned in light of God’s Word so that students can learn how to respond well in service.

Just before our visit to the memorial, one of my team members, Anna Baskin, shared about the story in John 11 when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. When Jesus arrives to Bethany, the people surround him saying “come and see” (John 11:34). They were inviting him to “come and see” the death of their friend, but he would show them life. I was reminded of this story as we stood at the Anibong memorial.  It was as if you could sense there was a spirit of death that was inviting us to “come and see”. But when Jesus enters the story, he no longer allows it to be an area characterized by death. While I was at the memorial looking at the situation of people who should not have to live in shacks stacked way too close to one another, the Lord helped me to see it differently. All I could think was, “There can be life because there is life in Jesus, he is the one that brings life.”

Brittan leads worship for a weekly gathering at Tahanan. Youth come to Tahanan throughout the week for times of worship, fellowship and bible study together.

Brittan leads worship for a weekly gathering at Tahanan. Youth come to Tahanan throughout the week for times of worship, fellowship and bible study together.

That is the kind of life that I have seen through our team here in the Philippines. Because of their lives I know that what the Lord told me at Anibong is so true. Death and suffering can be a heavy reality, but because of the life of Jesus and because of the healing in his presence, life can and has been experienced. Our team chooses to demonstrate this work of God by serving those with very real need.  

I had the opportunity to lead worship for one of the young adults Bible Study this past week at Tahanan. The Lord reminded me of the same message: there is life rising from this place, and it is taking place in Tahanan and will illuminate the whole community. I'm so thankful that I have been able to “come and see” the life that Jesus is bringing here in the Philippines because He is alive. It’s exciting to be a part of what he is doing!