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Where should I go?But no one is ever too lost to be saved by God’s amazing grace. In 2016, I made the de-cision to undergo rehab at the Set Free Center because I had no more place that I could go to. After only a few days there, I encountered Jesus genuinely, his infinite love and transforming power. I surrendered my broken heart and life, repented and asked Him for forgiveness for all the bad decisions that I had made. Deep within me, I knew I had found my place. I opened my heart to Him, and ever since that day, He is making everything in my life new.
Not only did Jesus restore my own life, but He restored the broken relation-ships with my family and friends. Jesus gave His life for me, so I can have a new life with Him. It was such a deep revelation for me that I took it and claimed it over my life. Ever since then, and until now, I have not gone back to my addictions and my old life.
New perspectiveCurrently, I serve the Lord in the community as a staff member at the Set Free Center. It is my great joy and privilege to be used by God every day. I share what he has done in my life and His love for people with struggles similar to mine.
View the embedded image gallery online at:
I am very thankful to God for His grace for this new journey with him. As I continue to walk with the Holy Spirit, He puts new perspective and purpose in my heart: to live my life for Jesus alone.
»I am not the man I hoped to be, I am not the man I wanted to be, but with the Grace of God, I am not the man I was used to be.« anonymous
»I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you, remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.« Ezekiel 36:26
Set Free Center, an addiction rehabilitation center from HELP INTERNATIONAL CMC in the Philippines. For 28 years, we have been taking in people (usually men) with drug ad-dictions or similar life problems. It is beautiful to see when a life that has lost perspective and given up finds new hope in Jesus.
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CarpenterThis young man was interested to be trained in woodworking but he was not sure if he wanted to do it in this training school, knowing that he is the youngest and knows no body from the group. In prayers and with encouragement he took it with courage albeit with hesitation. One week went of sanding wood went by, then one month then two months and now he is walking his eight month. The days of his training were not merely »work-training«, but also days of »gaining friends and testimony sharing-training«. He could invite one of his co-trainee »home« and he could start sharing his life in Jesus to his co-trainees too. Hear out what he shared:
Outstanding»One time a co-trainee was asking questions why I am where I am living and what we are doing (The Father’s House). I was shy to share but I got reminded of what one of the staff told me which is if someone ask you questions about yourself, what you are doing, why and etc. always tell and share the truth…about yourself, about us, about Jesus. You can also share Jesus through your actions and how you deal with them. Therefore, I started sharing to him, then another one joined us, then some others came too until the one person became eight people. But then came one of our trainers and questioned why we are not working, and I told him that I am just sharing my life. The trainer told the others, »is he a television that you listen and watch him?« but with a smile, I asked our trainer »Sir, do you want to listen also?«, he said nothing but just asked us to go back to our work stations.
Challenged»I faced and encountered challenges in the training center, but I am aware that there will always be challenges, thus most of the time I speak in tongues while biking to and from home and center and while doing my assigned task. I pray specifically for my co-trainees and the people in the training center. Most of my co-trainees and workers in the training center smoke cigarettes during our daybreak and some would drink alcohol after the day’s work training. They would offer and ask me to join them but with respect, I say no and told them that smoking and drinking alcohol is not good and in return, they respect me and would not insist«. Once the training school teacher gathered all of us informing that they found a sachet of weed in the comfort room. No body admitted! The training center again reminded us about the policies that we need to follow while in the center but also, it’s in general be lived outside the center.
Thankful little MissionaryThe carpentry training, I am having right now is also a blessing. I receive a daily pocket money and with that I could earn/save some. Not much but a small amount when saved and put together can reach something too. I pray that every day I could show Jesus and that they will see Jesus in me. I am grateful for the people in our community who supports me and covers me with prayers.
»A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.« (Luke 6:45)
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We had the opportunity to minister to »drug surrenderees« in many parts of Cebu and Camotes Island. Sharing our testimonies on how Jesus set us free from addictions and spreading the message of hope that is found in Jesus.
Revival behind BarsThere is an ongoing revival in prison, specifically in Cebu City Jail, which houses six thousand inmates. Prisoners get saved and find hope in Jesus. Most people do not want to associate with these brothers, but I am telling you, man, their hunger for God will inspire and minister to you. We also went to a smaller prison and shared our testimonies there.
»I was surprised and amazed of what God is doing inside the prison. There is bible study in every prison cell, this is »cell group« in its purest form. During the worship time led by an all-inmates worship team, the presence of God was so strong. The place was packed with people full of hope in Jesus. We shared testimonies and encouraged the brothers, but in the end we were more encouraged than them. I saw people have to sit in prisons for years, and when they are released they can go as trained pastors, being a blessing for others and sharing hope!«
Impacting StudentsWe also went to schools, as there are open doors to share the gospel. Many of these kids heard the gospel for the first time and listened attentively to us. We want to express to all the teachers our gratitude for giving us the opportunity to do evangelism in their schools.
»To speak about drug awareness and their effects has been the door for us to share in the schools. While seeing the pupils and listening to the ongoing program, the Holy Spirit whispered to me, to speak up: »Don't limit yourself just because you grow up in a simple island, you're families’ resources are limited, and that fishing and farming is the only option. Nothing is impossible to our God. His ways are much higher than we can dream of or even imagine." I can only trust God, that some of the seeds that we have sown will make an impact on the students’ hearts and future.«
Church InsightsWe also had the chance to visit some churches in Cebu. What amazes us is how fired up they are in worshiping Jesus. In one of the churches that we went to, we were given freedom to do anything. Thus, we led worship, sang in tongues and worshiped in the Spirit ... we laid hands on the people and released prophetic words over them. We also attended a Sunday church service where one of us shared his testimony and eventually was invited to share it also in their youth gathering of about 200 young people.
CHOPAfter days of ministry, we went to CHOP (Cebu House of Prayer) to join in a »harp and bowl« intercession. We also went to places and worshiped Jesus prophetically. Cebu belongs to Jesus and He reigns in this island.
These are just a few of the things that transpired in the outreach. All in all we shared the gospel to more than 500 people and more than half of them gave their lives to Jesus. Doors opened, we made contacts and preached the gospel.
»For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes ...« (Romans 1:16)
We had the privilege to visit Darwin in Camotes Island, who successfully finished the Set free program last year. How thankful we were to see him reunited with his wife and family. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at their house and were able to ministered to many. Darwin is a co-pastor, is leading worship and sometimes he preaches. To listen to his mum, how she experienced Darwin before, his transformation was just a big highlight. Proud to know that he is a teacher in training and taking responsibility.
Nine people saved in the City center
We worshiped in Plaza Independencia where we declared the Lordship of Jesus in this beautiful island. When we ministered to two precious young ladies, they gave their lives to Jesus and one got delivered from depression. We took a break and right after we went to Magellan's Cross and worshiped Jesus once again. I was surprised of the warm welcome we received from the people there. Even tourists were drawn by our worship! I grabbed the chance and shared my testimony and the gospel through the violin story upon which about seven people gave their lives to Jesus.
Men were the big number in this team, and reaching out to prisoners and drug addicts the main task. As I prayed to join this outreach, I knew I should invest in some ladies, specifically into two I knew by name. So I prayed ahead of time, asking the Holy Spirit if I should bring them a gift or take some extra money along. One is pregnant so I felt to wrap some cute lilac baby socks in good hopes that it would be a girl. Good enough on our arrival date, the news spread, it’s going to be a girl. I was able to give her the little gift with a smile. Days passed and I had some brief talks, but was eager to have a good moment to ask some questions and to pray for two ladies. For one I was able to pray and prophecy after a church service. The other was very, very busy ... I already surrendered everything to God and said, I’d tried my best. »If not this time, you will have another way to reach out or bring other people into her life.« Finally, unexpected, on our departure day, I was able to minister to this Mama, hugged her and released God's love into her live. Not only to her, but to everyone who lives in that house. Once more, I want to trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit and do what he says.
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Becoming a singerWhen I was 14, I was given the opportunity to go abroad to sing in a Club, to earn a lot of money and was able to support my family here. At 15, I earned enough to live comfortably. At a young age, I was exposed to the world’s promise that money is everything – the more you have, the happier you are. I had already begun smoking, drinking, and doing drugs in order to be in. I told myself there was nothing wrong with what I was doing because I was able to help my parents support our family financially, so I just kept going. But I reached a point in my life when I said, “I don’t like this anymore! I want my life to go back to normal; I wanted to be just like other people my age.” But at this point, I was a hopeless case. It was painful to realize, but there was no going back for me. I could no longer change my situation. I resolved that I would only put up with it so that my siblings could finish their schooling. But all my hard work became meaningless when they both stopped going to school.
Becoming a drop-outThen, for reasons I could not control, I had to go back to the Philippines. It was in this time that I met Bobot, who later became my husband. We fell in love and decided to live together. After a year, I gave birth to our firstborn, Michael. I was 16 and Bobot was 19. Bobot made me quit my job, and stopped going to school to work in his family’s business. After 2 months, I was pregnant again. For fear that I might not be able to handle another pregnancy in such a short time, we talked to a friend about my situation and we were advised that we abort the baby. So that’s what we did. This left me conscience-stricken. I had many sleepless nights. How could I kill my own child? A few months later, I was pregnant again. This time I resolved to keep my child. We also decided to get married, for the sake of our children. In the following years, three more pregnancies and three more children followed.
My parents-in-law helped us build a means for making our own livelihood. I soon fell back to drugs though, and even got my husband to try it for himself. Soon, we both became addicted to Shabu. Our business failed and we were in deep debt. But my husband and I carried on with our addiction to drugs, grossly neglected our children, for 14 years. Because of this, our family was often at the verge of falling apart. Our marriage was threatened many times because our trust and respect for each other was waning. We sold whatever item we could sell in the house and we told people, including our loved ones, many lies just so we could borrow money from them. We made attempts to change and stay away from our addiction, but to no avail. Every time we had money, the temptation to spend it on drugs was so strong that we could not resist it.
Encountering GodIt was during these troublesome years when my brother-in-law introduced us to CCF. He brought our entire family to St. Francis to attend a worship service there. Hearing God’s Word gave us so much relief and made us feel good, but only for a little while. Whenever we got home, we were back in our old ways. One night, my husband and I had such a serious fight that I wanted to end my life and put an end to all my problems, my addiction and my pain. I will never forget that night when I talked to God for the first time and told Him – “Lord, please forgive me for what I will do. I want to put an end to my life now so that I don’t have to keep sinning against You. Please take care of my children.” I felt then that God met with me for the first time. I cried so hard I could hardly breathe. Then I lay on the bed and a sudden peace came over me. I woke up the following day feeling light, with gladness and peace in my heart that I never felt before. And I thought the Lord made me sleep to frustrate my attempt at putting an end to my life.
In spite of this, we went on living in sin in the next few years. We reached a point when we even pushed and sold drugs, but this didn’t last long. One day, one of our daughters admitted to us that she was pregnant. She was 17 at that time. I did not feel any resentment for my daughter then; I only had myself to blame for what happened. I was a negligent mother, this was just a result of our many wrongdoings, so I accepted her situation even if it was painful. This was an eye-opener to my husband and me. For the second time, I earnestly prayed to God to take us out of our sinful ways and miserable situation for the sake of our children and my forthcoming grandchild. But it took a while before God could answer.
What shall we do?A few months after my daughter gave birth, our situation worsened. Our electricity and water supplies were cut because we’ve failed paying them. We did not know what to do. This cannot go on for so long because our tenants would be greatly affected. We had apartment units for rent, a livelihood that we inherited from my parents-in-law. We could not go out of the house so we could avoid the shame of our situation and the complaints of our tenants – why got their utilities supply cut even if they were regularly paying in full and on time. To solve the problem, I once again approached my brother-in-law to borrow us money. He obliged to help us with our problem, lent us money even if he was wondering why we were having money troubles in spite of our regular source of income from the rentals.
God's solutionAfter a week, God’s solution to our problems came. My in-laws invited my children for a Bible Study at their place. Our children saw it as an opportunity to seek help from my in-laws about our condition. Because my husband and I had been so absorbed by our own addiction, I even failed to notice that my children have grown old enough to know that something wrong was going on in our family and they were able to relate the problems in detail to my in-laws. But God is really so good that even if our children saw the wrong things we were doing, they still showed love and respect for us. Our eldest child had to work to support his studies. By God’s grace, he was able to get a college degree without much help from us. It is a great blessing from God to have children who love and understand us in spite of our shortcomings.
The following day, our siblings talked to us and told us that they will help and support us, even help us settle all our debts if we will undergo rehabilitation from our addiction. We agreed to it. They searched through the internet on different rehab centers. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find one that would accommodate couples, not to mention that the monthly fees were a bit pricey. At the back of my mind, I was wishing they wouldn’t find any affordable rehab center for couples. I did not want to go on rehab and be away from my children for two years. I even suggested to my husband for him to just go ahead and I would follow after him. Or better yet, I will just do self-rehab. Of course, he did not agree. He said either we both go or no one will go. Indeed, there is no escaping God’s wonderful plan. After two months of searching, we found HELP International Set Free Center in Antipolo, a Christian ministry focused on ministering to substance dependents. God seemed to have all areas covered, we couldn’t find any excuse not to proceed. Monthly fees were not required, though donations were encouraged. And at the time of our inquiry, a small room was vacant so they were willing to assign it for my husband and me. So, the inevitable came to me – we left our children under the care of our siblings and went to undergo rehab.
Set Free CenterThere were rules I resisted in my heart – such as the no call, no visitation rule for the first two months. I rebelled against that rule, but for my children’s sake, I told myself I will do this. In our 6th week, however, I was convincing my husband that we might as well go home already. I told him that reading the Bible every day and doing devotions every morning won’t help us at all. That all of that was a big joke!!! My husband did not listen to me.
Every Friday night, we had big family night where all the Filipino and German workers and volunteers of HELP got together for a night of worship and Bible study. That night, many were singing, crying, and earnestly praying. They were all thanking Jesus for His Presence in their lives. As I was watching them, I was thinking that these people were all phony! I found it unbelievable that the Holy Spirit was touching them. I resolved then that I will really convince my husband that we should leave that place already. I was so bent on it, he can either go with me or stay. But even as that was going on in my heart, I also told God, »Lord, if You are really here and if You are really alive, then let me feel it, let me know it.« Then suddenly, a foreigner volunteer approached me and said, »Jesus wants you to know that He loves you very much.« I felt stunned, like everything stopped for a while. Then I started crying, I couldn’t help it. I just cried and cried. I can say that was the second time the Lord met me.
Before that night was over, I was endlessly thanking God for the second chance He gave me to experience Him. I repented of all my sins and received Jesus in my heart as my Lord and Savior. That evening, my husband and I decided to finish the one-year program. Five months later, we were baptized. Ephesians 2:4 + 5 says, “But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead.” I knew then that it is only by God’s grace that I have been saved! That was the beginning of our adventure with Jesus, experiencing His power to change us and seeing Him work in our lives. And since we surrendered our lives to Jesus, the love and respect for each other was restored in my relationship with my husband. In fact, it is far better now than when we started and it’s all because God is now at the center of our relationship.
Home againIn summer of 2012, after only 10 months of undergoing rehab, the Center gave us permission to go home. They thought we needed the rest of the summer to re-establish our family and get our kids ready when the schools open in June. Being out in the world again was not easy, we got exposed once more to the challenges and temptations of the world. Because of my desire to earn fast and in the way I know how, I planned on working abroad again and use my gift in singing. But the Lord quickly reminded me that this was not His plan for me through His words in Proverbs 3:5-6 where it says, »Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.« I surrendered all this to God and trusted Him. He wanted me to use my gift in singing for His glory. That’s why He led me to CCF Makati A-venue and placed me in the Music Ministry. Only God is able to give us assurance that everything will be fine. All we have to do is trust and believe in Him alone.
By God's graceBy God’s grace and with the help of our siblings, we were able to settle and pay all our financial obligations over the years. The Lord also taught us to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness from those we have wronged, foremost of whom are our children, then our siblings, friends and loved ones whom we have hurt because of the wrong choices we’ve made. The Lord also enabled us to forgive those who hurt us. As time went on, God healed our broken relationships and restored the trust that our loved ones once had for us. We are very thankful to God for my in-laws who never gave up on us. They helped us and labored in prayer for our family, and they stood as parents to our children when we were on rehab.
By God’s grace, our four children have all finished college. If it were not for God, we wouldn’t have been able to endure the trials and challenges that came our way. And we will continue to fight our battles and persevere to the end, believing and trusting that our all-powerful and great God is always with us!
Jesus provided the way for us to break free from the bondage of sin. He opened our eyes and ears for us to see the light and hear the truth that He is the only true and living God Who is mighty above all and with Whom nothing is impossible! It is my joy to declare to one and all that we were formerly in bondage to sin, but have now been set free, cleansed and are now a new creation, saved and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior! And the One true King!
I am STELLA MARIS MAGSOMBOL, who once was lost but now found by Jesus!
To God be all the glory!
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So specialWe did not only walk and climb the mountain world of the Philippines, but amongst others we also visited a mining company and learned how gold, silver and copper are refined. The mining crew was so very kind and welcomed us. They showed us around and explained everything. Their hospitality and being able to see and experience something like this was so very special for us all.
So much and moreWalking on a swaying swing bridge, climbing an 9-km-mountain-range and crossing three summits at 1,846 m above sea level, walking down an 80% scarp, touching fog, watching your own breath, smelling and touching pine trees, collecting and eating wild berries, sleeping in a spacious classroom with lots of space for rolling all across the room as well as camping in a small shack where you have to make sure not to step on anyone, enjoying the wonderful refreshing cold weather, hiking through the so-called salad bowl of the Philippines, diving into the refreshing fresh water pool, encountering new people, listening to unknown dialects and so much more … most of our kids have never seen or experienced anything like that before.
We were so excited to see how happy our Father’s House kids took in all they saw and heard without complaining a single time but rather with hearts full of gratitude and joy.
Standing in aweGod is simply fantastic and we are standing in awe! He made a way for us to experience this fantastic adventure trip. However, greater and more fantastic than the nature and wonderful surroundings was the fellowship and each and every one of our little company as well as all protection we experienced. Glory and thanks be unto HIM!
The mountains declare that HE is LORD.
The valleys declare that HE is LORD.
All nature reflects His glory
Which makes my heart cry out and rejoice
That the LORD, our Creator, HE is God!
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Should I or not?
But to be honest, I needed a confirmation from God for this project and said, »God, I am available to you, but I need a confirmation for this project TODAY for me to know that you want me to do it.« Thus, I laid out two things before God,
1. I wanted a Yes from our team in Tondo, as I wasn't sure whether there was any space to hang such a big canvas … and …
2. ... I wanted to see the opening of the water pipe in our house in Tondo.
Until then, our house in Tondo didn’t have any access to water, as the water pipe was deliberately turned off by the authorities for reasons that had been dealt with weeks earlier. I was curious to see what was going to happen.
This is so GodFirst, our Tondo team send word. Yes, there is space for such a painting. The leader of the team was so encouraged and wrote in his message that he read John 7 the very day when I sent my question. This scripture talks about Jesus, the living water. LIVING WATER – that’s the title of my painting, however, I hadn’t told anyone before!
Wasn’t that confirmation enough to start the project? Yes, but it only covered 50%. What about the water pipe?
In the evening of the same day, we received news that the water company had come to open the water pipe. Hallelujah! The water has been running since!
I got so excited and thanked God for this wonderful confirmation. The very next day, I took my brush and tried to zestfully implement what I had prayed and seen in my spirit.
Done!Now, the painting hangs at the living room wall in our house in Tondo and reminds us that HE is the LIVING WATER.
I continue to pray for water – not only due to practical reasons even though it’s badly needed in Tondo. I proclaim water, for I want to see that all of Tondo, which is known to be one of the poorest areas of Manila, to be filled and transformed by JESUS, who is the LIVING WATER.
Jeannine Sprecht (HELP Philippines, Manila)
About the artistJeannine is Swiss. Together with her husband David and their two daughters, she graduated from the REVIVAL SCHOOL in Lüdenscheid with the aim to go to missions long-term … that way the whole family went to Manila in 2009 where they live together with many young people. They love to demonstrate the love of God in action and to help them to embrace their destiny. Jeannine is the first contact for volunteers and outreaches. Her prophetic and artistic gifts enrich and inspire us – our community and our mission.
About the paintingTitle: LIVING WATER
size: 120 cm x 80 cm
The painting is hanging in our house in Tondo (the biggest slum of Manila).
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EstherEsther G. is an REVIVAL SCHOOL on the Move (RSotM) student and originally comes from Mongolia. She is 22 years old and this is her story:
»Since I got to know Jesus, naturally, I had the desire in my heart to reach out on the streets, but I never thought of becoming a missionary or going to other nations until I encountered the Holy Spirit and having an impression of going to the nations three times. God stirred my heart!«
Battling mindsets»However, I had thoughts that I couldn't go because of lack of money. I had to battle and command those thoughts: »Stop! I will listen to my heavenly Father!«, and I had to renew my thinking by speaking out and believing: »My heavenly Father is rich!« Many people have the mindset that only churches from rich countries can send missionaries because Asians don't have the capacity or financial resources ... but that's not true!
Jesus said, »Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?« So my job was to believe and act upon and the next step is all God's business.«
Miracle No. 1»Suddenly, miracles started to happen: After an outreach in Mongolia, I needed almost 300 US$ for my next step towards missions. I didn't say anything to anyone but to God alone. In the morning, as I was talking with God about it, I received a message that someone blessed me with 300 US$ for my trip – and that was only the beginning! It was always one step after another and His miracles happened one after another! I did my part of doing what He said. I stepped out in faith ... and He confirmed His words and provided for me the whole time.«
Miracle No. 2Flight ticket to the Philippines: »I was praying for another 300 US$ and received less than what I needed. I didn't try to do something in my own strength, but listened to the Holy Spirit. He told me to go to a library. I went, even though I didn't understand why he was asking me to do that. There, I waited for quite some time until I felt to leave the library when I saw on the other side of the road a travel agency. I went and inquired about a flight to the Philippines and to my amazement they had only one ticket available left for the exact amount I had. It was a miracle, because I had gone to many travel agencies and all of them only offered expensive tickets. If you have a close relationship with God, you hear His voice and He leads you.«
Kingdom affairs»My money is not mine - it is kingdom money. On serval occasions, God told me to give my everything, and I never suffered any lack. He takes care of me and provides for me. If you want be a missionary, you have to believe God and follow him and do what he says – and you will see his glory.«
RSotM means to feel God's heart for missions»I saw how people were set free, received Jesus as their Savior, got touched by God's love, and how God used me ... I have seen and experienced so much and there are still so many adventures ahead of me. I started out in the Philippines, continue in Germany and will proceed to Texas … I am so excited, because I will experience even more of God as He leads me and I follow. There is a great future ahead!
And it doesn’t matter, where I am. Whether I am at breakfast, washing laundry, sitting in teachings or doing outreaches, the Holy Spirit is with me wherever I go. He teaches me and uses me.«
»When you know who God is, that He is your Father and what his heart is like, than you don't need to be worried for finances or other things. Missions is more important than money. All finances are meant to advance His kingdom!«
Stepping outIf you don't know what and where you are called to, just take the challenge and step out of your own box. It is not about what you can imagine, it's not about your culture or where you come from ... it’s all about how great our God is and what He says!
For more information click to REVIVAL SCHOOL Philippines and/or to RSotM.
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TondoTondo is a district located in Manila. It is located directly around the Manila harbour. The population, is estimated at over 600,000 people, making it one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Smokey Mountain is a former garbage dump, which has become green from the growth of uncultivated sweet potatoes. To this day, many people earn their living through from recycling garbage.
The Vision»How did it all start?« A question often asked when we share of what we are about to do. Sometime during the September of 2016, we were invited to join a corporate outreach to Tondo. I was not one of the people going, but that was our start. Something touched our hearts in such a way that we knew we had to come back. In December we went again, with the first experience still heavy in our hearts. We had organised a small evangelistic crusade on the Field of Dreams, next to Smokey Mountain. Several of our staff team felt a burden for the people there, which we could not ignore. We particularly felt the spiritual need. We started going there monthly, with two priorities: To share the gospel, and to worship Jesus in all kinds of different places. From our first base there we walked many kilometers, looked into many places, and explored everything which we saw or sensed. We stopped for the one who was alone, the old man sitting on the sidewalk, the mother carrying her baby, and the group of bored children. It quickly became clear that God’s heart is in Tondo and that God wanted to have us there.
We understand that God wants to transform all of Tondo. Isaiah, chapters 60-61 have become key passages of scripture to us when searching for God’s intentions:
Stench to fragrance
Violence to peace
Curse to blessing
Poverty to wealth
Oppression to freedom
The word of our testimonyRuel Dela Cruz has walked the most in Tondo. He has shared his testimony countless times and hundreds got saved by the power of God. He doesn’t get tired of worshipping in dark street corners and dirty seaside locations. His love for the people and place keeps growing.
He tells us about his experience in Tondo: »The very first time I was there, God showed me that Tondo is full of precious treasures: people! After two years, it is still the same. The people’s souls are still ready to be harvested. When I was young, I learned to be a fishermen and so learned different methods of fishing. All the methods have one thing in common, though: You always go where the fishes are.« God is calling together a team, and he is not looking for the perfect, capable, or well educated. God is calling people who are willing. Trust God and don't think that other are better suited because they have the qualifications. I have always been touched when people share their testimony and live their story. Through God's love and compassion they start sharing and reaching out to others. God’s heart wants nothing but to reach out to all those who are lost. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says: But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. Ruel and Jackie Lou will move to Tondo with their three children and a full-sized team.
Please pray with us, as this is a new big step. Pioneer situations are often attacked and challenged. We need an army of prayer warriors backing up this ministry. So it will unfold the way God has planned for it.
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A God adventureIt has been quite an adventure since then. I wanted to serve God and share what I had found, so I went to the mission school in Lüdenscheid for one year after my rehab. Then I came back to Manila and embarked on the real journey. Ministry and the mission was a wonderful, exciting life but also a humbling and learning experience as the Holy Spirit did His work of refining and sanctification. He patiently cleansed and molded this dirty, discarded diamond until the beauty started to shine through. I was eager to learn more, so that God would use me to reach the street children. I had lost so much time and didn't want to waste any more.
Mama to manyI became a staff in our home for street children. I loved to make a home for them and be their family. After a few years, God gave me a burden for a home for prostitutes. Though there were not many real prostitutes, many lives were transformed as pregnant teenagers came seeking refuge and a place to birth their babies. Later, God placed a vision for a Drop-in center for street children and youth on my heart. We opened it in 2010 and this became my heartbeat. But I was not to settle as, in 2014, I was called into the leadership team of HELP Philippines. God had brought me up from the ashes of drug addiction to the top. Only He could have done such a transformation! But I lost sight of my first love and started to rely on my own strength. After two years, I stepped down from leadership to take a sabbatical leave to our Lüdenscheid community and come back to that place of grace. And He did not disappoint - He never does!
»Yes, Lord, I'll go!«But wait! At this point, I was 62 years old! What more could there be for me? Semi-retirement? A step back into the shadows to support? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I had come back to my first love and it was all that mattered. Not staff status, nor position, nor responsibility, nor ministry. I surrendered it all for the gift of His Presence. That's when He said, »Now ... I can begin to build a new foundation. A foundation that's made up of my presence alone.« And He did: slowly but surely, until finally, a season of spring came - new life! I felt it in my heart though I had no idea what it meant! I joined an outreach to our HELP base in Austin, Texas (HfaN), and that's where that old familiar feeling of ›I’m home‹ came, He called me to support the tiny pioneer team of two young ladies and I said, »Me? You're calling me - a retirable, ex-drug addict from a third world country, to a world power like America? REALLY?« And He said, »Yes, that's exactly what I want to do, so that the world may see what I can do.« What more could I say but a humble, »Yes, Lord, I will go.«
And so, in May, I will be moving away from my country long-term for the first time in my life: at 62 years of age! And about to take steps of faith like never before. Challenges? Sure, I will have many challenges: visa, emotions, finances and physical capacity, to name a few. But God knows, and He has spoken. So I will go. I'm excited and anxious, all at the same time. Once more Jesus is asking me to trust in Him.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
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It's always different»My goal was to experience missions instead of always talking or dreaming about it. That's what happened during my three months' stay at the Father’s House - many ups and downs included. It was a very enriching time for me and definitely broadened my horizon. In the Philippines, I experienced that many things don’t work according to plans. Instead, things just seem to happen very spontaneously, which often challenges the German mentality. For example: »What are we going to do with the kids on the weekend?« Answer: »We can decide that on the day!« I learned to live more in the here and now instead of always being under stress, largely due to appointments that I have organised. Yes, life here is easier in many ways.«
Gibberish»Being surrounded by people who speak another language, drove me further into God's arms and taught me to stay in an attitude of prayer and seeking the presence of God. I learnt to be more dependent on him and his love instead of relying on love and attention that I may receive from other people. In the Philippines, many people speak English, however in the Father’s House most day-to-day conversations were held in Tagalog and to begin with, I often felt left out. However, looking back I am very grateful because it made me spend more time in prayer.«
God - the good Father»I also experienced God's goodness and provision for the first time. I wanted to spend four days at the beach but didn't know if I had enough money for that. I prayed about whether I should go or not and felt that I should book anyway, believing in faith that the money would come. The day before I left, I found an envelope with 2,000 Pesos in front of my door. When we finally paid for the hotel, we got a 20% discount. God is such a good Father!«
»Though one situation I learnt how important every individual is to God. After a long trip away, one of the children ran away from the Father’s House. We were all very sad and concerned. In my evening prayer time, I asked God to protect the child and bring it back home safely. I felt so desperate and couldn't find sleep. God spoke to me: »Yes, that's how I feel when one of my children runs away from me!« It was so special to experience a little bit of how God feels when one of his children turns away from him.«
Tondo»During my time at the Father’s House, I also had the opportunity to participate in two outreaches to Tondo. During these trips you see a lot of misery and brokenness. I learned that Jesus is the only hope and answer for this world and that it needs obedient people to take the Gospel to such places. We are the light of the world and we must go to the dark places to fulfill His destiny. It was also my first time to see many people, especially children, giving their lives to Jesus and I could see how hope suddenly was radiant in their eyes.«
You will be changed»If missions is on your heart and are willing to accept the challenges that go along with it, then you are in the right place here. However, bear in mind, three months will go past very quickly. I recommend to all volunteers to stay six months or longer. It will change your life forever and you will go home a different person than you came!«
This is how you become a volunteer at HELP International!
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The paradeAfter a two-hour parade, we ended up on a basketball court in the middle of condominiums next to Smokey Mountain. Jayson shared his testimony on how Jesus saved him from the darkness, heavy drug addiction and how Jesus restored his life. There was deliverance of fear, so much hope spread in that place. Different nationalities and churches, and people of different ages came together to lift up the name of Jesus and to believe for transformation - TONDO4JESUS!
Above all elseWhen having our prayer and fasting week last January we heard God speak to us to do a worship march through Tondo. This was our starting point to plan for it. We connected with churches, looked for the route and booked courts. We advertised and mobilized, printed T-shirts and Tarpaulin, made banners, hire a sound system and more. However, above anything we did, we held on to and believed in the vision that God will bring transformation to this place and prepared this event in fasting and prayer. We added two nights of crusades to the event with Walter Heidenreich.
Our first task was to clean up the garbage, followed by inviting people of the surrounding, playing with kids that were covered in dirt, yet carried beautiful smiles. None of us had experience in doing such an event, but we worked hand in hand. We had meals outside in a canteen and slept squeezed together with many others on the floor. Our whole HELP Philippines community joined the march … only the watchdogs stayed back home. God was honored in those days and we are in awe of his mighty work. Indeed, his eyes are watching this place full of love and he crowns the people with beauty.
ImpactWe believe this events has had great spiritual impact. God's presence brings change!!!
In a hallway of one building a lady asked: »How can this change happen? I heard those testimonies and gained hope to believe for my alcohol-addicted husband.«
Many followed the prayer to receive Jesus in their hearts – some silent others out loud. Nothing is impossible with our mighty God!
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