A Detailed Look At What We Are Doing by Travis Sharpe

Today, I want to share with you a few of the specifics about what we are doing week-to-week here in the Philippines. It really is amazing to watch the Lord work day in and day out and I’m excited to share it all with you.

Our goal

Our goal here in the Philippines is to assist the local churches in ministering to the homeless and those who live in squatter areas. We especially are focusing our efforts toward the children. They are the most vulnerable and of course, are in the bad situations due to no fault of their own.

We want to establish new ministries here that will not only reach out to this population with the gospel but that will also help transform lives. I can envision little kids who have no real chance at a meaningful life because of dire poverty, getting saved, being discipled and surrendering their lives to the service of the Lord.

I can also envision families who are lost with no hope coming to faith in Christ and through love, patience and discipleship, growing into God fearing famines who follow the Lord.

We are meeting practical physical needs as we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples.

Our discovery

We have discovered that most of the children who we find sleeping on the streets actually have families who live nearby.

 

These families are typically extremely poor and living in conditions that are horrid. They have little huts or makeshift houses that are stacked on top of each other. Many of the houses are built on or near stagnant water sources or ditches that flood during heave rains.

 

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In most cases, these houses are grouped together by the hundreds and called “squatter areas”. These areas are sort of like homeless camps in the U.S. except most of these areas are governed, have a leader, and are a part of the community. Thousands of people live in these areas most likely because of both poverty and a lack of real housing.

The conditions are extreme.

We have encountered several single parent households. Some parents are loving and care for their children just like any other parent does. The poverty is so bad that some of the parents see no other way to purchase food than to send their kids out into the streets to search for scrap that is then sold for recyclables that in turn buys food.

Some of the parents are very irresponsible and look for ways to get out of raising their children, thus the children wind up living on the streets and basically fending for themselves.

Many of these parents were raised in the same environment and they are entrenched in harmful lifestyles and practices. Depression is very common.

While there are problems with alcohol, drugs, prostitution and irresponsibility, I want to STRESS that not all of the families living in these squatter areas are caught up in those things. As a matter of fact, there are many Christian families living in these areas and they are an amazing example of what Christ can do in a life.

Many of the Christians makeshift homes are extremely clean and well kept, you can tell that there is a difference and they take pride in the small things God has blessed them with. It is very inspiring to me. These families are extremely poor, but they are followers of Christ and you can tell it.

Feeding centers

Crossroad Community Baptist Church is the main church that we are partnering with. They have 8-10 different locations that they go to every Saturday to serve a hot meal to the children and also sing songs and conduct a VBS style Bible study for the children.

 

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The term “center” does not mean that they have built structures, rather it simply means that it is an area within a community that they have the ministry each week. Some are held at a basketball court and others in a clearing under the shade of trees. We did build a nipa hut recently for one center. You can see pictures of that here.

They have been doing this for several years now and they have seen some amazing results. We have partnered with them financially since September of 2014 to help them purchase the weekly food for their efforts.

Since we have been here, we have started two new Saturday feeding centers. One is in a place called Handumanan and the other is at a dump site on the outskirts of the city of Bacolod. Our family is also helping with two of the existing centers that are under a bridge where people live as squatters.

On Saturdays we go to the two existing locations as well as the two new ones. Saturday’s are long days for us!

These Saturday ministries are a real help to the children. It also provides us with a great inroad to the communities. As the parents see that we really love their children, they open up to us about the real needs and problems.

One goal is to reach the families with the gospel. When an adult gets saved we try to have a Bible study in their home and disciple them. Churches can also be planted as a result of these Bible studies.

There are several families that attend the church on a regular basis who live in these areas. Their lives are changing.

Medical

During the week we make visits to the feeding center communities. We go inside the homes and meet the parents. We look for children who are in need of medical attention. To be honest, every child in these areas are in need of medical help. But we are looking for the ones who are in the worst shape.

When a child is identified as to having a great medical need, we work with the parent to get the child to the doctor. We pay for the doctor visit and the medicine.

I have now witnessed with my own eyes the sad reality that there are people who have to choose between taking their kids to the clinic or eating. My heart breaks for these moms because I know they want the best for their children but they have no resources to even start to provide it.

 

baby Illiz Iloise Desoy

We are also excited that our good friends from GPA Mobilization Ministries will be bringing a medical mission team here in April. They do an amazing job and there work is needed. This trip will be led by Todd Crusenberry and there is no doubt that hundreds of people will receive great help that week.

 

Geneivive and baby

This is the same baby as in the above picture only one week after taking the proper medicines and eating properly.

Education

After we help by taking them to the doctor we try to educate the parent about basic hygiene and cleanliness. Most of the bad medical issues we have encountered so far are bacterial infections that stem from and are complicated by the dirty living conditions.

Therefore we work to educate the entire family. They need to earn to bathe daily and eat the right foods. They need to understand the importance of having a clean environment so that disease and bacteria doesn’t spread.

We are not just teaching them, for that wouldn’t do much good without the right tools. We are also providing them with soap, laundry detergent, and antibacterial wipes.

Of course, these are not just handouts. They must show improvement and effort to continue to receive these blessings. The bottom line is, they must earn things just like everyone else in the world so we are taking that approach.

The pastor and his wife have been an invaluable asset in helping me to understand the culture here and how and when to proceed and or halt in a given situation.

Daily food

We don’t have the funds to feed every family on a daily basis, (yet), but those that we have helped medically, we are also providing them with supplemental daily food. It is usually rice and vegetables along with eggs.

 

Merliza giving food

The sickest baby we have seen was a little two year old girl who had the infection and was also malnourished. We have been providing her mother with formula to feed her and we have seen drastic results in only one week. She went from being seriously ill to a lively toddler!

They must have nutritional food on a daily basis and most of them just aren’t getting it.

Our need

We now have a Young married couple who have surrendered their lives to work with us! Genevieve and Kinley are their names and they are a delightful young couple who are full of energy and initiative.

We are now searching for an adequate place in Bacolod to call our ministry headquarters. Genevieve and Kinley will live there and run the day to day operations. They will cook nutritious meals each day for the children who will be able to come to the center and eat.

They will also be able to tudor them (so that they can re-enroll in school) and give them a place to be instead of on the streets. The parents can come there for classes that will teach them proper ways to prepare meals and keep clean. The possibilities are endless if we get the right location.

In the future

We hope to not only have a headquarters in the city, but also property in the mountain area as well. One of the biggest problems we see is overcrowding in the city with few jobs that pay well. We would like to teach livelihood to these families so they can support themselves and have a more meaningful life.

We would also like to open an orphanage for the children who have no parents. Property away from the city would be more condusive to helping these kids and families facilitate a life change.

There are two ways to help:

 

This will be a costly venture and we will need to raise money to make it happen.

1. Generous love gifts to help us secure the right property and get it set up are needed. You can give those online by clicking here, or by check using the address below.

2. You can become a monthly sponsor which helps us to provide the food, medicine, doctor visits and much more on a daily basis. Click here to get started with a easy auto draft of your card or use the address below to mail your first gift.

Most of all, please pray for the Lord’s provision and guidance and for lives to be saved and made new by God’s grace. We have already seen several positive responses to the gospel and just one is worth it all!

 

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