First off, THANK YOU to everyone for the prayer and financial support regarding Yolanda. We are humbled and encouraged by the response and generosity of people back home in stepping forward to meet the need here in the Philippines. You have no idea how much God is using and blessing your gifts!
Our original plan of leaving Saturday for relief operations has been delayed in order to reassess the need and funding. As you can imagine, there is a lot of preparation and unknowns with what’s going on in Bohol and Leyte. In two days we will meet with the staff that is in contact with churches greatly effected by the typhoon to finalize plans.
Amidst the craziness, Jason and I worked a kids camp this week. It was planned for weeks before Yolanda hit, so although slightly distracted, we found ourselves Wednesday morning among 47 street youth at Camp Jabez.
One church’s Vacation Bible School sponsored this entire camp… How cool is that??
Kuya means “older brother” and Ate “older sister”
Camp Jabez was purchased over 25 years ago by ACTION and other local ministries. It was bought with the vision that street children would have the opportunity to sleep in a bed, eat three square meals a day, be loved on by genuine adults who care, and learn about how much God loves them.
Because street children don’t attend school, camp was Wednesday to Friday. Local ministries and churches bring these kids in from various parts of the metro Manila area. They go out onto the streets at night, meeting children where they’re at. Prime time is 10pm to 4am, when the street kids come out to play, eat and work. Jason and I went out one such night with Pastor Raffy, who founded the boys shelter, Kids Home, (more on this experience in a later blog). He has been building relationships and earning the trust of these kids for years. It’s only after earning your trust will they agree to accompany you to a kids camp.
We watched as kids started filing into the session hall, each carrying their backpacks. Well, few had backpacks–most gripped plastic grocery bags carrying their belongings for the week.
Most were quiet and wide-eyed as they surveyed the camp grounds, a startling contrast from the city.
The main focus of the camp is to teach the kids about Jesus and present them with the Gospel message. Following the camp, it is the partnering churches’ responsibility to provide follow-up Bible studies and discipleship opportunities.
The agenda was filled with fun camp activities such as basketball, swimming, and games. A lot of these kids have never swam in a pool or played organized sports.
Steph and I led morning exercise… Boot Camp style!
As Jason led by example and encouraged the kids…..
…Steph yelled, “Come on, you wimps!”
As you can imagine, life on the streets does not include healthcare, so we performed basic medical screenings on every child. Similar to the children Steph examined in Bolivia, there were a lot of dirty, infected cuts and hygiene issues.
Each child sat one-on-one with a Filipino social worker
trained in noting signs of physical or sexual abuse.
Vitamins were given with every meal.
This kid was bit by a stray dog a week ago.
Steph found that many of the children were lining up to request band-aids for old scars or birth marks. She thought it was strange behavior until coming to realize that caring for a wound is an expression of love.
The final night the staff hosted a beautiful banquet which many of the kids had never experienced.
What a feast!
It breaks your heart, but after the meal, this kid was collecting scraps in a piece of paper to bring home the next day… Many of the kids wonder where their next meal will come from.
Normally the kids clean up after every meal; however,
the staff served the kids the night of the banquet, which is counter cultural.
Afterward, the kids received the climax of the large group sessions: the challenge of making Christ both Savior and Lord of their lives, both at camp and back home on the streets.
Jason shared his testimony as a Marine.
Before we knew it, camp was over and it was time for the kids to head back to the city. It was encouraging to see some small changes throughout the couple days of kids softening up and becoming more brotherly with one another.
Truly though, street kids ministry can be a difficult one in that once children are back in their familiar environments, it is easy to return to street life. The best we can do is pray for them, that they connect right away to the churches for follow-up, that Christ makes a real impact in their lives.
Get this: we traveled half way around the world to find ANOTHER Moxley!
The male staff team. Pastor Lino (2nd from left)
was a former street kid and camper.