Update from the Philippines
We are now over about halfway through our Philippines trip, and we are currently in Cebu after spending our first week in Manila. I apologise for the delay in the updates - we didn't often have wifi access in Manila, and so it wasn't possible to write any updates. But here is a very quick summary of our time so far in the Philippines. Our first week in Manila was very busy. We arrived in Manila around 5am, and we headed to our accommodation at Jesus Loves The Little Children school in Pasig, Manila, where we were able to grab a quick shower and change clothes before we headed out to have lunch with around 30 HIM leaders and wives. It was a great opportunity to meet people that are working in ministry in Manila, hear from them, and have the opportunity to share with them too.
The second day (Sunday) we split the team in two; half of us went to minister at Cornerstone Church with Pastor Alfred Abed, and the other half ministered at River of God Church with Bishop Chito Sanchez. It was an amazing day, and the Holy Spirit was mobbing at both locations!
On Monday we had another lunch meeting with around 90 HIM pastors and wives from various cities and provinces - some of them had travelled more than 3 hours to get to the lunch meeting, and some of them have never eaten out at a restaurant before!
The next day, we spent time with two large groups of children from the area around the school where we stayed, and we played with them, fed them, and gave them Christmas presents. The team were up until around midnight the night before getting the gift bags ready for the children!
On Christmas Day, the entire team went to Happy Land and Baseco - one of the largest and worst slums in Manila. We had the opportunity to perform some skits for the children, before we fed them Jollibee. Jollibee is a fast-food restaurant chain in the Philippines, and it's too expensive for the families in the slums to be able to afford, so for them it was a luxury meal. It was sad to see the children with the food, because they would take a little nibble, and then they would cover their food up so that they could take it home to their families to share with them. Before the children went back home, we gave out Christmas gifts and pillows to them.
On Boxing Day we split in to three groups, and we visited families in the area around the school so that we could give out candy to children, and so that we could pray with the families. The team that I was with visited three families. The first family was a husband and wife, with 4 young children. The whole family lived in a tiny room that was no bigger than maybe 3 metres squared. The second family we visited lived in a larger house (fairly big for the area), and we prayed for healing for the father of the house who is currently in hospital with a lung problem. The third family we visited lived in a small apartment in a government housing project apartment block. The family were relocated there from the streets, under the condition that they would vote for the mayor in the next election. Only the husband of the family was able to work, as the wife is disabled because of polio, and the son has some mental difficulties due to physical abuse when he was a young child (I believe it was at the hands of a relative). The family were 5 months behind on their rent (1000 pisos per month/around $23USD), and were due to be served an eviction notice at any time, but our team prayed and believed that the Lord was telling us to bless the family and pay their outstanding rent balance. So now the family can stay there for longer which will give the husband more time to find more work!
On Saturday we flew to Cebu. It was an early morning flight - the team left for the airport at 1.30am local time, and we arrived in Cebu around 7am. We went from the airport straight to the church to be a part of their Saturday outreach to the children of the slums. We went in the church bus around to the slums to pick up 2 groups of children in the morning, and then another 2 in the afternoon. There was around 400 children in total! We spent the day playing with them, dancing, and singing with them. We performed some skits for them, and played with them some more. Then we gave them food, and gifts (which also contained rice for them to take back to their families).
One of the things that stood out the most from the Saturday outreach, was that even amongst the poverty of the children from the slums, the children knew who the poorest among them were. As we fed them, we watched as they would nibble a bit of chicken and eat a little bit of rice, before going to the poorest among them and sharing their food with them. Even young poor children know how to take care of the poorest among them. They gave up eating their full meals to make sure that the poorest among them had enough to eat. They did the same with their gifts: we watched as some of the children would give their gifts to others in the group that were poorer than themselves. It was heartbreaking to watch, and it also made me realise how selfish we are. The poor take care of the poorest among them, and yet we try to cling on to everything that we have.
On Sunday we ministered at Maranatha Church, who we are working with to build the Ranch of Hope where we will house children that have been rescued from sex trafficking. During the second service, the presence of God was SO heavy in the place! It was such an intimate time of worship, and the fire of the Holy Spirit was in the place! John Perks called different age groups of people to the altar where we prayed over them, and the fire of God fell and people were slain in the Spirit; the altar and the sides of the church were filled with bodies lying on the floor after being slain in the Spirit because the presence of God was so powerful in the place! We saw people set free from emotional pain and hurt from sexual, physical, and verbal abuse that they have faced - there was such a spirit of breakthrough and liberation! The third and final service on Sunday was a healing service. We called for people that needed healing to come to the altar, and we saw more people slain in the Spirit, and we saw people healed from physical pain. We also prayed for a lady that has cancer - please keep her in your prayers! When we hear an update, we will share it with you!
It's Monday night now, and today we celebrated Christmas with the staff at Maranatha Church and the CURE Foundation. There is a huge weather storm that is currently hitting the area of Cebu, and it is supposed to cause torrential rain overnight. Please pray for the weather, as we are supposed to be visiting 4 slums tomorrow during the day to visit families and play with children there, but if the rain doesn't stop and it doesn't dry up overnight then the slums will be too flooded to visit tomorrow.
Tomorrow evening we are having a New Years Prophetic Service at Maranatha Church, where the team will be releasing prophetic words over the nation, the church, and the people. This week has also been a trying time for the team with our health - a lot of our team are starting to get sick with stomach flu, strep throat, breathing difficulties...to name a few things! We believe that this is an attack of the enemy because of the work that is being done in the Philippines to set captives free, and because of the words we have to release over the nation tomorrow! Please also be praying for strength and healing for our team!
The next update won't be as long as this, but I wanted to give you all an overview of what has been happening since we landed, as we weren't yet able to write a blog post until now.
There's also still time for you to make a donation to help us with the ongoing work that we are doing here in the Philippines. To donate now, go to www.classy.org/unconditional ALL donations will be on the ground within 24hrs!
- Ezekiel Chester