PHILIPPINES FINAL UPDATE: Safely Back in Tokyo
UPDATE: I have safely arrived back in Tokyo, Japan after a wonderful 2 week outreach in the Philippines. God did a lot of amazing things in my heart during this time, He worked a ton in our team to bring greater unity, and also gave all of us more revelation of His heart. I have already detailed much of the Philippines outreach and you can check older posts for those details. I wanted to highlight a few things here though that are on my heart since returning.
One of the great joys that I had was seeing God bring unity to His bride in the Philippines. We were able to work with a local pastor who is a dear friend named pastor James Jimenez. It was so good joining him and his church for street ministry, church and enjoying loving on Jesus in their prayer room! Along with this connection, we also got to partner with pastor Gary at Seek God Ministries. He pastors a church composed almost entirely of street kids. Most of them are around the ages of 6-15 or so. We also got to work a lot with the staff and girls at the Olongapo YWAM base and see what God is doing in their lives. In addition to this we also partnered with a team that joined us for a week from New Zealand. This whole two week outreach was marked but a huge level of unity among many different groups of Jesus lovers. It was beautiful.
There are so many testimonies that I would love to share but I will focus on just one for this update because it is super dear to my heart. The Olongapo YWAM base works primarily to build relationship with girls that are working in prostitution in the bars of the red light districts. Their ministry is to build relationship, share the love of God, and also provide a practical lifestyle alternative. The Olongapo YWAM base takes in girls that want to get out of the sex industry and provides a place for them and their children to work, eat, and live. Each girl that comes in hears the gospel message (as well as daily seeing it demonstrated), works a trade to prepare for a future where she can provide for her and her kids, and also gets a chance to continue her education. I fully believe in the ministry that God is doing through YWAM Olongapo. This was my second year visiting the base and even in that one year time it is remarkable to see the growth in the girls lives. In that one year time span some girls have left the base and are now working on their own and new girls have come in and are being discipled.
There is a bar that the Olongapo base has had great favor in. The mama-san (lady in charge of the girls that work there) actually asked if we could do a weekly bible study in the bar for the girls! So these two weeks, we were able to join the Olongapo staff in putting on a bible study for the girls. I personally thought that it was so like Jesus to go into a dark place and hang with people and love on them. Instead of pulling the girls into a church we simply were able to go where they were and share Christ’s love. It reminded me of Mark 2:15-17 and Luke 7:36-50.
I find it interesting that the name of the bar is ESCAPE. The inside of the bar is painted with images of people trapped behind metal bars and looking through with sad expressions on their faces. I find it very interesting that this bar is the one where God gave us favor, where He is letting us have a weekly bible study for the girls in prostitution in the middle of a red light district, and where girls are hearing each week about the God that loves them and a place where they can go. Something huge happened right before we left the Philippines. There is a girl that I met a while ago in the bars. I had talked with her for a while during one of the bar evangelism times. I got to pray with her and one of the staff from the Olongapo base while she was on duty at the bar. There was such an indescribable expression on this girls face. And there was also a longing for more. She had only been at the bar a few weeks and was only just learning how to dance, by the way she talked about it, I could tell that she hated it. She explained that she had a kid and that she was working in the bar to support her and her child. We told her about God’s love for her and also about the YWAM base where she could live. Later other members of our outreach team also met this girl and talked with her more. On the day before we all headed home we received very wonderful news! She decided to leave her job in the bar and come to the Olongapo base to live! She is now one of the girls at the base being discipled and it was so amazing the last day seeing the change on her face. I think she has hope again. Thank you God for what you are doing in the Philippines! Thank you that you love girls in prostitution. Thank you that your heart is always for healing, reconciliation, restoration, and fullness. Thank you that it was for freedom sake that you set us free! Thank you that you have given us EVERYTHING for life and godliness. Thank you for your lavish love. May it increase more and more in the Philippines. Expand your kingdom. And bless all who are working their in your name.