NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2020
Hello again dear readers
Our work is continuing in the Philippines and the Pacific Islands despite coronavirus. I have been very encouraged by the way our pastors have been working so diligently and wholeheartedly, and how our teachers have also been tirelessly travelling to proclaim the good news of Jesus in remote tribal areas.
Hosea has received special permission from the education authorities to restart our Mindoro Island schools, despite the fact that state schools and even other private schools are not allowed to open their doors until next year. I believe it is Hosea's charitable work on the island that has made this possible. Of course the authorities are closely monitoring our schools’ operations but they recognise that online teaching is not feasible with slum children. Their families do not have the technology to enable the children to follow distance learning, as very often they do not even have electricity in their homes. The poorest of the poor cannot afford IT equipment as often they are lacking money for even food. We have been regularly distributing food to slum families in the areas of our schools since February and that has been a key factor in their survival: when there is no work, there is no income and therefore no way of buying food.
Feeding the tribe people
There is great excitement amongst our new pupils as they join classes for the first time. Our teachers too have been very relieved that they no longer have to prepare paper-based worksheets for pupils, then hand-deliver them to slum homes, and follow up with collection, marking and checking. Postal distribution has not been practical so the teachers have had to walk around the slum city trying to find the homes of their students. But in tribal areas our teachers have to continue distributing teaching material on paper from hut to hut, and in Manila our slum school is still in quarantine so the same system has to be followed.
Mindoro island has no coronavirus cases whatsoever at the moment - thank you for your prayers! This is really an amazing victory given the size of the island and the number of people there!
Our teachers have been enthusiastically undertaking evangelistic trips in remote parts of the island to previously unreached tribespeople. This has involved them in challenging four hour hikes through thick undergrowth to the mountains, come rain or shine. Even river crossings and mud have not prevented them from getting through. Not easy when these intrepid teachers are heavily loaded down with food, bulk cooking equipment, drinking water, clothing donations and other provisions.
Corona distance teaching
We have been given a piece of land for use in our Mangyan ministry and it has been named ‘Hope Village’. At present it isn't a real village as it is just bare land with no real buildings but our purpose is to construct a simple bamboo church. Our work is progressing speedily in Hope Village and although no tribespeople dwelled on the land at first, now fifty families have constructed simple huts and live there. In just the past week another tribe has moved into the village, as they had heard that something really strange was happening on the mountain. They had never encountered the good news of Jesus before. Pastor Sonio has worked hard to explain the gospel message to this tribe in very basic steps and simple language, just as you would explain to children. The message was received warmly and as a result there are several new citizens of heaven there!
We seek to care for these tribespeople in several different ways, including cooking and distribution of food and provision of clothing. Many local townspeople outside the church have been so impressed by what we are doing that they have volunteered their time to help. This is the key that the Lord gave us at the beginning of our ministry and that we have diligently followed: we go to those who have nothing, we provide for their material needs, we preach the gospel and we teach the children. Because of such work we have received official permission to continue the outreach around the island, in spite of the fact that quarantine is still in force.
Our Village of Hope
As soon as the lockdown is lifted we are planning to travel to a very remote area of Mindoro Island where there is a school with 300 tribal pupils, far away from any roads and towns. We will start off from San Jose and then have to walk 10 km through the jungle to reach the school. It was founded by the state some time ago but then left with no ongoing support. The teachers have received no teaching materials or equipment whatsoever from the state and in spite of many requests for help, no answer has been received. Pupils study under a very basic bamboo roof to shade them from the sun, and the teaching staff are really despairing. One of our Hosea teachers, who had met a teacher from this school, is very keen for us to help. Indeed my heart goes out to these poor children. The school is still under quarantine but we have already collected finance for the purchase of teaching materials and we are ready to to bring these to the school as soon as we are allowed.
A big thank you to everyone who has financially supported us -- with your help our work has continued and grown amongst the slum children. We really appreciate your participation with us.