Philippines (CAM) — Born to a nominally Christian family in the Philippines, Justin Galang* never thought about whether God cared for people’s physical and material well-being.
Galang assumed God must care only about heavenly things and whether people were moral or not. In his native town surrounded by thick jungle where many of the streets were dirt roads, a local missionary invited him to a Bible study. The young man was surprised as leaders talked about how the Lord cares for people’s physical and material needs, a local ministry leader said.
“This intrigued him, so he started to ask questions,” the leader said. “He was fascinated by this new teaching, which was further reinforced when the brethren distributed relief goods not only for him but for the rest of the members of his tribe.”
Having grown up in poverty, Galang began intense Scripture study of the Lord’s concern for the poor – and was so taken by what he learned that soon he felt compelled to invite his fellow tribesmen to study with him.
“At present he is leading the tribal outreach and has committed himself to a deeper relationship with the Lord and to serve Him and his tribal members,” the leader said. “God touched and convicted a nominal Christian to become a very committed leader and servant of Jesus Christ. Glory to God.”
Galang’s transformation took place in 2019, and as the tribal people committed themselves to Christ, they sought to form a fellowship. But then a series of earthquakes struck in October of that year.
“The earthquake destroyed their houses,” the leader said. “By God’s grace, the earthquake did not discourage the local missionaries from visiting the tribal brethren – indeed, they distributed relief goods from funds received by Christian Aid Mission and the brethren and conducted evangelistic activities.”
More Bible studies sprouted among tribal people who heard about Christ during the relief aid distribution, continuing into 2020 – until another disaster struck.
“Unfortunately the Bible studies were stopped because of the pandemic and the quarantine declared by authorities,” the leader said. “Consequently, follow-up with these tribal brethren was limited to telephone calls, and messages were regularly sent to them by the local missionaries.”
Travel restrictions were lifted three months later, and the local missionaries were again able to visit the tribal Christians, bringing them relief items and leading study of Scripture. Regular Bible studies have resumed, the leader said.
“Because of the Bible studies, more and more people are being converted and changed,” he said. “Drinking among the tribal folks, especially during the evening, is now rare. Not all residents or dwellers in the community who have heard the gospel are believers, but the presence of the believers somehow serves as a deterrent to the nocturnal activities of the non-believers.”
Galang reported to the ministry leader that even those who have not put their faith in Christ are helping the Christians in their relief distribution and other activities.
“We praise and thank God that despite these difficult times, He has provided the ministry with resources so that we can extend help to our brethren who live in far-flung areas that the government is not able to reach and provide for their material needs,” the leader said. “We thank the Lord for the Christian donors and for the leaders who helped facilitate the distribution of these goods.”
Healing and Forgiveness
While COVID-19 deaths in the Philippines rose to more than 7,800, new daily coronavirus infections dropped to new lows by the end of November, according to the Philippines health ministry.
Government officials have warned that the country must not become complacent, and further lockdowns are possible.
Another native ministry providing aid to pandemic-stricken people in the Philippines carried out evaluations of who needed medical help. While quarantine restrictions on crowds were still in place and workers were unable to offer regular medical clinics, they instead distributed prescription medicines household by household.
“Under this system, our team was also able to distribute hundreds to thousands of gospel tracts and literature as well as personally witness to them the love of God,” the ministry leader said. “Medical mission is a big help for people with health issues. And hearing the good news of salvation, they contemplated that God sent physical disaster to awake them spiritually.”
Likewise, local missionaries accustomed to serving hundreds of malnourished children every month had to scale down group sizes when the pandemic hit as they provided life-saving rice, corn, meat, vegetables and other foods, he said.
“Our team engaged in distribution of relief goods also on a household-to-household basis in order to hand down the Lord’s blessings to all of them,” the leader said. “Hence we continued ministering to children by feeding them.”
Local missionaries are working throughout the country to save lives and souls. You can help them bring the love of Christ to people facing poverty and disaster.
*Name changed for security reasons
Header image courtesy of Christian Aid Mission.