Down In The Dumps by Travis Sharpe

As we rode down the long, bumpy, dusty, and narrow road I didn’t really know what to expect. There were sugar cane fields all around and a house or two here and there. In the far distance beautiful mountains gave way to the clouds that covered their peaks.

But we were not headed to the green fields or to the beautiful mountains in the distance. Our group of missionaries was headed to a much different place. A place where the air is not good and the heat of the day is overwhelming just like the filth.

We were headed to the dump.

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For many years now I have read about places like this. I have heard of children who basically live in and around the debris as they scrounge for anything that might be sold for money. I have heard about adults who’s entire livelihood is centered right here.

What would it really be like? Would it be what I have heard? Would it be worse? I was about to find out for myself.

I know it might sound a little weird but I have always dreamed of ministering in a place like this. I have dreamed of telling extremely hungry people about the bread of life and thirsty people about the living water.

As we crested the final little hill, the mountain of garbage came into view. The first thing I noticed was dozens of little houses that had been thrown together using scraps from the debris. There were a couple of young boys just standing outside of one of the little huts.

It was exactly what I thought it would be. We were all a little taken back at first. Seeing this place in person is just a different experience.

As we piled out of the van they just watched us. I wondered what they might be thinking. We spoke to several people and finally met the engineer of the dump who gave us permission to come minister if we wanted to.

That was the first visit

We returned a week later (Jan. 31) ready to be a blessing and begin our new ministry, right there at the dump!

This time we were well prepared with two piping hot pots of rice soup. A delicious soupy mixture of rice, chicken, broth and some other tasty ingredients.

Our group went around visiting for a few minutes and before long a crowd of around 60 or 70 people were gathered on the concrete pad in anticipation. There were men, women, teenagers and small children. Everyone had been working in the garbage for most of the day. It was now 4 pm.

When the crowd was all together, Pastor Antonio began to speak. He told them who we were and that it was our joy to be there today. After some preliminary remarks, he began to preach in the native language called Ilonggo.

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The people listened intently, some nodding their heads every once and a while. The topic was the man who Jesus met that lived among the tombs.

The response was very positive and some accepted the Lord as their Savior at the end of the short sermon.

Next it was time to eat. We brought the pots out and simply sat them down on the concrete and began to serve. One by one we dished out cups of the delicious soup. While some were serving others were talking with the people and getting to know them.

We were really doing it, we were ministering to the precious people who live and work in the dump.

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The first, the only

As we were talking to different people we met a lady who is a member of an organization that in some way or another, organizes the people who scrap in the different dump sites. I still don’t fully understand what the organization does.

But what she told us amazed me. We were the only group to ever come to that dump to minister to the people. The dump engineer who is in charge told me the same thing.

Maybe a long time ago there was another church with a ministry there, but no one knows of one. I reminded me of the man who fell among thieves and was lying in the ditch but no one would stop to help him.

Every Saturday

We have committed to this ministry every Saturday now. We are all excited because we will have the opportunity each week to be a practical blessing while we preach the gospel to the people at the dump. Who knows, maybe the next pastor or deacon or preachers wife will arise from this very place?

What about you?

Our Saturdays are long, hot and tiring, but very well worth the effort. I am finding out that if you just go a little out of the way you can find people that others are overlooking. I’m sure that God also has someone in mind for you to find.

Maybe it’s a neighbor or someone in the hospital or the nursing home? All it takes is a little effort and a little searching and you can find someone that no one else is helping. When you find them, love them.

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