it’s been two weeks since i’ve gotten back from GUTS (global urban training school) in a squatter community in the philippines. there is so much i witnessed and experienced there is not enough time to share it all. if you are interested in hearing more please feel free to get in touch with me and i’d love to share with you.
if i were to pick the main thing that stuck out to me of how i saw God moving in the slum community in the philippines, it was the rapid leadership development that is happening there. since this was my second time in the community i had the privilege of getting to witness the transformation God was able to do in the 2 years since i was last there.
2 years ago one of the young men of the youth group in the community had just come to Jesus through his friend, who was a notorious gangster in the neighborhood who himself had recently come to Jesus. this young man was known for always joking around and would come only sporadically to bible studies. now, this young man is one of the key leaders in the church. he leads a weekly men’s bible study and he is the one who led me through the community on a prayer walk.
2 years ago one of the young ladies of the youth group was in high school and, like many her age, was caught up in her looks and getting attention from boys. she barely went to class. her mom basically told her she should find a guy and have a baby as there was no point in her graduating high school, since they wouldn’t be able to pay for college anyway. now, she leads the church’s prayer meetings. she was one of the key people in a number of panel discussions with our team of missionaries. she graduated from high school and is now in her first year of college.
what accounts for this rapid transformation? what made the difference for these young people?
it’s not because they were rich. it’s not because their families were healthy. it’s not because they were smart in school. as i got to know them i saw one key theme that has set them apart: they were discipled in the way of Jesus. both this young man and young lady have someone that invests into their lives in a focused way. now this is not just a once a week formal meeting of passing down knowledge, which did happen. this was a Christ-centered person who intentionally shared their life in dozens of informal interactions throughout the week: this meant living in the community of the young person, checking in briefly on the basketball court or at the local shop, opening up one’s home, going on little trips together, asking for help with chores, sharing food, sharing stories, sharing laughs, sharing tears, listening to heartache, and praying for the person in need. this is where trust was built and hearts began to change.
God is the same God in the philippines as he is in our community. there are just as many challenges if not more in the philippines. God has so much more for us than we have imagined for ourselves (Eph 2:10). how can we spend more time with people who inspire and sharpen us? how can we share our lives more with people who want more out of life?