Thanks to my friendship with Pastor Vic Bernales, I was introduced this afternoon to Rev. Michael Hong, the owner and proprietor of Mango Radio, which broadcasts evangelical radio programs in Zamboanga and here in Davao City. Pastor Hong has a heart for bringing the gospel to Muslims here on the island of Mindanao by using radio.
It was a fruitful discussion, and the result was that I will be starting a live one-hour radio show on June 1st. There will then be a four week break while our family is in Indonesia and Cambodia in June, and I will resume broadcasting after June 28. We hope to air the show at rush hour, but Mango is currently still trying to obtain a frequency for broadcasting in Davao. It will also be broadcast via the Internet.
The show will be devoted to explaining Scripture, using history and the original languages and the Jewish background. I’ll be trying to make these things clear and accessible — something I have striven to do for many years in my high school classes.
I need a name for the show. Any suggestions?
Above: Matt and Pr. Michael Hong in the Mango Radio studio.
Pray that the show will be a success and a blessing both to Filipino Christians and to those who do not yet own Christ as the world’s Lord.
I did another “Amandaism” as my friend (and scorekeeper of my blunders) Amy Hill says. I lost a week in May and thought today was May 30. So, Gloria showed up this morning, arms filled with groceries, to cook lunch for the arriving guests a week early! (Dulce is at a couples retreat this weekend.) Oops. So, we had time to chat. Well, I had time to listen to Gloria talk about God. Spending time with her is like getting a spiritual booster shot! She is so full of the spirit, so in love with the Lord that it just bubbles out of her. She loves to talk about Him! I decided to get her take on something that amazes and baffles me: How is it that the poorest of the poor, who suffer so much have so much faith? I asked a Honduran pastor this question once and he responded, “Because we set our sights on the next life, not this one.” That helped alot but I still wanted to know more.
When I asked Gloria the question she took off. People suffer because they don’t know God. They love money, they don’t love God. (the Un-prosperity Gospel) They get involved in drugs and alcohol. They are greedy. She went on along those lines, indicting the government and anyone who puts earthly desires before God. I agreed with her in all this but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I asked again. “How is it that people who are so poor and suffer so much have such a profound faith?” Her eyes widened. “Oh, you mean people who suffer economically?” Then my eyes widened and filled with tears. You see, to Gloria, there are two entirely different types of suffering. The worst type, the most important type, the type we must devote our time, attention, and prayers to is spiritual suffering. That is what this devoted daughter of the Most High, this woman who until recently only had 3 walls in her one room house with massive gaps between the roof and the top of the walls where water rushes in during the raining season, this is what she is most concerned about – the spiritual suffering of people around her. She doesn’t see the gang members and the corrupt government officials as bad guys. She sees them as spiritually impoverished and suffering deeply.
About those who suffer economically? She had several answers. God sends people (like all of you who support LAMB – she calls you the body of Christ) to help. She tithes, no matter how small her salary is and, in response, God provides. (She had a job before LAMB in which she got paid $65 a month and she still tithed. “God provided and I could pay my debts, utilities, everything. I don’t know how. God provided.”) “For us, God is everything.” Isn’t that what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34*? Have you ever met anyone who actually believed and lived those verses? Gloria does. Everyone who has met Gloria knows what a beautiful spirit she has. She cleans up our messes everyday with a sweet smile, she is the one who cares for the sick team members staying at Casa LAMB while the rest of us go to work, she is the one who drops to her knees,wherever she is, to pray for someone in need. If we followed Gloria’s example of her un-prosperity gospel – to put God first in our lives and trust Him completely – how rich we would be. Spiritually rich.
I told her I was writing about our conversation. She just ran up to tell me to include this bit of advice, based on a vision she had in 2010. Put your heart and soul into your worship. Don’t be afraid of showing emotion and enthusiasm! Love God with all your heart!
From now on, whenever I say “Gloria a Dios” (Glory to God) it will have an extra meaning as I also thank God for bringing Gloria into my life!
Gloria a Dios!
*Matthew 25-3425 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I have seen several articles and references asking the question, “How do we know aid works?” There are books (e.g. Toxic Charity, When Helping Hurts) and numerous articles and studies on this. (Here is a recent one: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/05/15/406757551/what-it-takes-to-lift-families-out-of-poverty) People at conferences talk a lot about KPIs (key performance indicators,) metrics, OBEs (outcome based evaluation,) etc. Believe me, I get it. I spent 29.5 years at IBM. We had “metrics” tattooed on our chests. As goal oriented Americans, this resonates with us. We treat our charitable giving as investments and we want a good ROI.
But…(you knew there would be a “but”) The truth is, in the field, measuring results is difficult. For an already overworked staff, it is a huge burden. Often the metrics are difficult to define and correlating the gains to the gifts can be next to impossible. Measuring outcomes is incredibly labor intensive. The idea of monitoring a “control group” which receives nothing seems cruel and counter-cultural to us. In reality, we are surrounded by a control group – all the people we want to help but can’t. It breaks our hearts. Engaging with them to measure how bad off they continue to be just doesn’t work for us.
However…(of course there is a “however”) We are as concerned as anyone that we are doing the right thing, using our resources wisely, being good stewards of the generosity of others, and leading as many people to a better, sustainable life. We agree that pure charity has limited application, we get the ” a hand up vs a hand out” concept. Our ministries and our organizational vision and mission reflect that. We are constantly taking stock of our programs and actions to ensure we are developing people’s ability to be self-sufficient.
Metrics? Sometimes anecdotal measures (measures that typically “don’t count”) are all we have. Here’s one for you.
Jorge, far left, and family
Jorge has been out of the Children’s Home for about 6 years. Like the others, he came from a horrific environment of abuse and poverty. Now, he lives with his mother, a dear but still impoverished woman. He finished high school and is now in University. He remains devoted to his brothers and sisters, many of whom are still in the Children’s Home. He just recently wrote this song for a CD our Praise Band will be recording. Mind you, he isn’t in the praise band! He simply felt moved to contribute music to it.
Quiero Tu Amor Perfecto – Jorge Hernández
I Want Your Perfect Love – Jorge Hernandez
Puedo escucharte hablar al comenzar y finalizar el día
I can hear You at the beginning and end of the day
Puedo escucharte sonreír cuando pongo mi amor y fe a Ti
I can hear You smile when I put my love and faith in You
Puedo escucharte cuánto me amas cada momento de mi vida
I can hear you when You love me every moment of my life
Cuando sale el sol
When the sun rises
Y todo queda en silencio me haces sentir mejor
And all is silent, You make me feel better
Pasas tu mano sobre mí para sanar mis heridas
You pass your hand over me to heal my wounds
Creas salidas donde no hay
You create a way where there wasn’t one
Creas tiempo para mí cuando no tengo
You make time for me when I don’t have any
Tu atención hacia mí es tan valiosa
Your attention to me is so valuable
Que no me quiero apartar de Ti
I don’t want to be apart from you
Déjame sentir Tu amor perfecto
Let me feel your perfect love
Déjame amarte tanto que nada más importante
Let me love You so much that nothing is more important
Solo Tu, solo Tu
Only You, only You
Solo me importa Tu amor perfecto
Only your perfect love is important to me
Tu amor perfecto
Your perfect love
Quiero Tu amor perfecto
I want your perfect love
6 years later, this young man has been able to graduate from high school, enter university and writes a song to the Lord he loves. How’s that for results?
I’m feeling a bit remiss about blogging. We keep to our deadline for publishing our monthly newsletter, but it’s easy to forget to write on this blog, and that for two reasons, both of which are good for missionary work, but not for missionary communication: first, life in the Philippines feels more “normal” for us than it did during our first two years; we encounter less that seems remarkable and needing to be photographed or shared. Second, we are both crazy busy with our respective ministries, and have a hard time carving out time to blog.
Here are some photos from March and April, which may be taken as fairly representative of what we’ve been up to:
On the way home from dropping the kids at school one morning, the words of the Psalmist came to mind: “Many bulls have surrounded me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.” OK, maybe just cows, and a calf that decided the middle of the road looked like a good place to enjoy sunbathing.
Sora continues to do outreach with other midwives from the birth clinic to bring prenatal care to the women of the Isla Verde. Here, laundry hangs on a line and bicycle taxis (pedicabs) ply the streets beneath the coconut palms, while the ubiquitous Coca-Cola ad serves as a silent missionary of Western consumerism even in this very poor neighborhood.
Of course, the birth clinic continues to welcome Filipino babies into the world, and Sora continues to supervise shifts and take care that they arrive safely. Here are three from the past few months:
Sora continues to teach, too. Most recently, she’s been teaching statistics for this enthusiastic bunch of student midwives. Here, the students are lined up in a “living histogram” by height:
Water lillies from Sora’s visit to Thailand in March:
Matt’s ministry continues apace. Introductory Greek is finished now, so we have moved on to Hebrew, while continuing to read the Greek New Testament so that students don’t lose their skills. Here, Carl, one of Matt’s friends who has been with him from the beginning of his classes here in Davao, puts up answers to the second Hebrew homework assignment on the whiteboard.