I have a “route” within walking distance of our church. I have been going there for 33 years, gathering up any kids that will come with me. We usually walk, or put the smaller ones on trisikads (bikes with sidecars). They come at 8:00 a.m. We stop at a small store and buy 30 small pieces of bread; one for each of the 30 children that come. Most of them are dirty; they are all hungry. They sit and listen to the Sunday school lesson, munching on the bread, and then we go to junior church. They sit on my lap or fight to sit next to me. Not only are they physically hungry, they’re also hungry for love. I hug them, making a mental note to check how many bottles of Rid® I have left.
One child whispers to me that he needs shoes for school. I whisper back for him to come to my house the following day and we’ll see what we can do.
The children listen to the preaching. They watch the puppet show or drama. Sometimes they have games. They sing, pray, and have an invitation to accept Jesus as their Saviour, or for those that have already done so to be baptized. After church we give them a treat.
I walk them halfway home, or at least to the corner where they can ride the trisikad once again. It’s a little game we play: I give them a coin for the fare, and they wave goodbye; but when I turn around to go home, they pocket the coin and walk. They will gladly walk for five pesos.
After church we have a quick meal. My husband goes to church for the visitation meeting while I take a nap. At 5:00 p.m. I gather a couple of Bible students and take a taxi to the other side of the city. There is a very large poor “squatter” section there called “Tanza.” I don’t know how to describe it except to say that it is filthy. The tiny shacks are all crowded together; the smells are sickening. Children are playing beside open sewers and trash. The girls and I go around and visit several people. We stop at one of the poorest homes I’ve ever been to. There are 12 children. The older ones go around selling peanuts, just to have a few pesos to feed the family. Two of the daughters have severe heart problems. They spend their days propped up in a chair, trying to breathe. It is heart wrenching to watch them. I slip the mother a couple hundred pesos to help her buy medicine for them.
The girls and I gather however many adults and teenagers that are willing to come, and rent a jeepney to go to the night service. People don’t seem to understand that they will have the same physical needs tomorrow that they have today, but there is something they can do about their spiritual need tonight.
On Wednesday night, one elderly woman who comes faithfully with her grandson every service is crying. When I ask what is wrong she tells me her daughter is in the hospital with T.B. I slip her a couple hundred pesos.
On Friday afternoon we go to another area called “Baluarte” and have a Bible study. I see a mother crying and ask what is wrong. Her little boy is very ill with dengue and needs blood, but they don’t have any money. I get all the money I can find in my purse, minus our fare to get back home, and give it to her.
There are times when I don’t want to give. After all, I have my own needs and wants. We have Bible students, staff, and church members in the hospital constantly. If you think health care is a problem in the United States, try visiting a third world country. We even have a doctor in our church who is struggling to pay for her chemo. I think, “How can we help them all?” It is never-ending and often overwhelming. But I cannot get very far in my Bible reading without the Lord breaking my heart for others. When I read 1 John 3:17, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him,” God reminds me that if I do not have a heart of compassion for those in need, I do not truly love God.