Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Showing God's love to street kids...

Here is an update Dad wrote:

April was an attractive girl who introduced herself to us when we were setting up for the Health Expo in Barrio Obrero.  She had grown up too fast for her age, and although only sixteen, she carried herself like a “twenty-something” intent on being attractive to the opposite sex.  Beneath the bold forwardness of her conduct however, was the young tender heart of a child, and an openness to the leadings of God’s Holy Spirit.  Although she looked like an adult in many ways, April chose to attend our children’s program.

During the Barrio Obrero evangelistic series, part of our students worked with us in the adult meetings, and part helped in the children’s meetings.  Sandra and Teresa lead out in an evangelistic series tailored just for children, conducted in a large room behind the main hall.  Because Barrio Obrero is a “low-class” area, most of the nearly 100 children who showed up were “street kids.”  These were children who spent most of their life on the streets of the district, playing and getting into mischief.  They were used to getting yelled at, both at home and on the street.  Most were dirty, loud, and unruly.  Home for many of them, was a place to avoid except at mealtime and when sleeping.

During the first couple nights in the children’s meetings, it was nearly impossible to get a group of that size and character under control.  The noise in the room was almost deafening.  The PAFCOE students were assigned to various groups of children to help keep order.  However, the students were reluctant to get too close to the children.  These kids had lice; they were dirty, and some had sores on their bodies.

Sandra, decided that rather than being the program’s “police-woman” she would try a different approach.  What these “street-kids” needed was LOVE.  Most received none at home, and hardly knew what real affection was.

On the third day of the meetings, Sandra and Teresa decided to lead the PAFCOE students by example, and sit in the middle of a group of children.  Accordingly, when they were not leading out with a part of the program, Sandra and Teresa took a group of children (each child was assigned to sit in a group when they registered for the program), and sat down in the middle of them.  The most misbehaved children they would put their arm around and have sit beside them or on their lap.  The PAFCOE student helpers followed suit, sitting in the middle of their groups, with an arm around one or two children and often one on their lap.

The effect was almost magical!  These children were craving affection, and to be able to sit beside a “teacher” with the teacher’s arm around them, or on the teacher’s lap, was a prized experience.  It had a calming effect upon the entire group.  Never mind that we had to use the “lice comb” every day to make sure we didn’t receive the crawling itch!  Our students quickly became “big brother” or “sister” to children who were starving for love, and bonds of friendship were established that will last for eternity.
April is an example.  Ever ready to help where needed, April was an asset in children’s program at the beginning.  The street children all seemed to know her, and since her father was the local policemen, April commanded a certain respect among them.  Not only did she help where she could, she absorbed the truths of the Bible that had been simplified for the children. 

April in her baptismal robe with a little friend.
April never missed a night, and when the call was made for children and youth to make a decision for baptism, she was the oldest of the children to make a commitment.  She was baptized with our group at the end of the Barrio Obrero series, and several weeks later, her mother was baptized too.  Praise the Lord! 

In every seminar that we conduct, many children from the children’s program make their decision for Christ.  Those that are able get baptized, but many are unable to get permission from their parents.  These must wait till they are “of age,” but the seeds of truth have been planted, and will continue to grow in their hearts.

Currently, we are in Manila ready to open a new PAFCOE school here.  The school in Iloilo is continuing under local leadership, and has been accepted as the official evangelism school of the local conference.  Praise the Lord!

We continue to solicit your prayers and support for both schools.  There are many students who wish to join one of the programs, but lack the funds for tuition.  To all our supporters and prayer partners we extend our warmest Asian appreciation—“Thank you kindly!”  In Tagalog, “Salamat!” 

Your friends,

Pastor Lowell & family & the PAFCOE staff