11:00 A.M. Tuesday, November 10, 2009, cruising at 35,000 feet, somewhere between Houston and Honolulu… actually, passing over the Baja Peninsula.
As we head east, way east, to the other side of the earth, I am filled with the beauty of our adopted people, the Filipino and with the wonderful people who sent us to them.
Sitting on the plane, 22 more hours of travel ahead of us, I am not discouraged by the flight or any other sacrifice involved in such a trip as this, because we are going to the Philippines!
Just typing out that word makes my heart squeeze a little tighter.
The Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia. We can’t wait to get there during this time of year. The malls will all be decked out with Christmas decorations, and everywhere you go there will be lights, and Christmas music playing. They actually started all of that last month. They go crazy over Christmas.
Though the average Filipino does not make much money, they don’t let that stop them. The atmosphere is festive; the creative talents of these people fairly explode in a flurry of seasonal energy and though it won’t be a “white Christmas” (actually, it will be a “hot and humid Christmas”) they always make it a wonderful Christmas.
They are making gifts and preparing the parties that will go on for up to three full weeks, they actually give gifts to each other for a couple of weeks. No last minute shopping for most of them. It takes weeks and even months to make the gifts they will give. I remember one year I got a hand carved top from a pastor there, complete with throwing string to wind around it, and I was as proud of that as any kid would be of a PlayStation today. It just meant more.
But, it is more than the parties and the gifts… the Filipino exist on a level of spiritual awareness that is unique the world over. God is a BIG deal with them.
The Filipino has a heart for God and it is on full display during this time of year. Sure, Christmas is commercialized, just like in America, but there is an undercurrent of religious passion that carries it all along.
I have never seen people who wanted to know about God like the Filipino. Jesus is a subject that is not off limits, like in so many other places, in fact, if you strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger it is usually not very long before you are talking about Jesus. They want to know more about Him, they are just waiting to be told more about Him. It is one of the few places on earth that if you hand them a tract they will actually take it, and read it. They might even stop to talk to you about it… “What does this mean?”
In times past, preachers and zealous saints, would stand up at the front of a city bus and begin to preach to the passengers about Jesus. Our preachers did that so much that finally the bus companies were forced to prohibit our preachers from doing so, because passengers would miss their stops on purpose… they just HAD to hear more about this Jesus!
That is why I love coming to this land of enchanting people. There are other places where the climate is better, the environment cleaner, conveniences of life more available… yet I have never found a place where there is more hunger for God, a soul craving for righteousness. A heart cry…
So, we head east.
Not to sound holier than thou, or some spiritual giant, because I am certainly not, but I can’t think of anything more worth my time than investing in people who are hungry for God. Any fisherman will tell you that if you have found a place where the fish are biting mark that place and keep going back until the fish move on. We are told to be fisher’s of men, and this is the best fishing hole in the world.
We want to share this moment with you all, because we only go because you sent us. I wish I could name you all, but since I can’t I will not name any. But you know who you are. You are heroes, you are missionaries, you are the hands and feet of God.
You are heading east with us right now! This is your trip too.
We are going physically, but you are going also, because whatever blessing God gives us for doing this, will be divided EQUALLY to each one of you who sent us. (I am so moved by your compassion! We do what we do because we know and love the Filipino, you are doing what you do without knowing them. I think that means your love is greater than ours.)
The people who gave finances, food items, toiletries… paid for rice, and the wonderful lady who is helping a bible school student get through school, and sent a special gift for that student with us. The couple who secured over 100 toothbrushes and toothpaste to give in the street kid ministry…
The prayer warrior who prayed for us the day before we left, gave us a word from God and promised to cover us while we are gone… (you ARE going, even though you told us that you thought you would probably never make a missionary trip. It is a matter of perspective.)
The guy who bought our family tickets to you know what… wow, that was awesome!
The man who has been dreaming of Venezuela City and found out there is only one in the whole world… we will be going there my friend. God spoke to you and while we don’t yet understand it, we are going there.
The lady who got turned onto missions in such a way that she went out and bought 65 children’s outfits for us to bring and distribute.
The other lady who worked tirelessly to coordinate the relief efforts and works on it still.
The church in Arkansas who had people come to the pastor and say, “We have just been feeling to help the people in the Philippines get through these disasters.”
The Sunday school supplies, books, crayons and teaching resources, thank you!
The young people who are saving their money so they can make a trip one day and who have been praying for God to move in the Philippines.
Our young friend who has committed to give up drinking sodas until we get back on American soil, and the young lady who lays awake many nights with tears pooling in her eyes because she hopes that one day God will allow her to go back to the Philippines. (Timing is everything, and right now, you are sending the best thing… your prayers.)
Change the World, (oops! Sorry, I wasn’t supposed to name names, but you will understand.) This is a children’s ministry who took on the challenge of raising money for missions… that ministry took weeks to collect all kinds of coins… the children who sacrificed to give… wow! You were amazing! So many of you did so much, like the little guy who emptied out his entire piggy bank and didn’t even bat an eye when it came to over $100!
Our own kids, who are without Dad and Mom for 13 days. We stocked the fridge and freezer, but they will miss mom’s cooking, cleaning, organizing, and stuff.
You are all heading east. Every mile this plane flies stretches your sphere of influence, your ministry is expanding, because you are sending and in God’s way of seeing things, sending is the same as going.
So, fasten your seatbelt, hang onto your passport, and take your motion sickness pills because you are flying right now! Your ministry has just gone INTERNATIONAL!
You will be driving into the ghettoes of Manila, you will be feeding street kids… you will be searching for God’s Will in Venezuela City, you will be praying for people to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, you will be clothing the desolate… I guess the easiest way of saying it is, you will be the hands and feet of God.
Oh, and one more thing you will be doing… you will be looking for Mark! There is something special about Mark.
Please pray that God leads us to Mark.