Count Every Blessing
“O my soul, bless GOD, don’t forget a single blessing!” (Psalms 103:2)
2020 was by far the most difficult years for missionaries across the entire world. Asia specifically has some of the world’s longest national lockdowns. For example, the Philippines has been under quarantine since March 2020, leaving millions of children around the country unable to leave their homes. The byproduct of this is all-time highs of suicide, incest, teen pregnancy, family abuse, school drop-outs, and more. However, in the midst of all this, God has shown His faithfulness and unstoppable love. For us, this was greatly experienced by the generous love and compassion you have shown us and our missionary team here in the Philippines. Thank you so much again for everything you have given and prayed for during this incredibly difficult time, not just for us but for a majority of developing countries still impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Partnering with 22 Churches
Since March 2020, the basic needs of individuals, families, and communities have skyrocketed. With churches being shut down nationwide, reaching them with the love of God has been met with obstacle over obstacle. Yet, even in the midst of these trials, God has shown Himself faithful to us and all those we have reached out to. It all begins with us saying “Yes!” to helping those in need and finding local churches that are willing to do the same. By collaborating together, we were able to partner with 21 churches in the Philippines affected by volcano eruptions, typhoons, unemployment and more:
- 22 churches partnered with
- 8 regions reached
- 250 bibles distributed
- 2,400 people heard the gospel
- 2,620 families engaged
- 13,100 people impacted
- 10,060 kg/ 23,369 lbs/ 10 tons of rice given
- 73,000 meals provided
Dad said, “I was going to burn my family alive in lockdown…”
As we continued diving deeper into the lives of those around us, we started learning more and more about how much the people of the Philippines were hurting. While we can count all the blessings God has given us, others were still left in the dark, ignorant to the love of God.
In one of the regions near the impact site of the Taal Volcano eruption, not only were they affected by the past natural disasters, but now they were experiencing the trauma of not being able to work, go to school, see their family and friends, and were confined to their home month after month (which is still on-going).
As we talked to one dad in this location, he began crying and opening his heart up to our missionary team and church partners. He explained that since the Lockdown occurred, he had no idea how he was going to feed his family. With businesses now being shut down, families being restricted to their homes, and the lack of government relief (1 bag of 5 kilos of rice for a family of 5 for 6 months), this father and many others had no idea what to do. In other words, he felt completely hopeless about the future of himself, his kids and his wife. He started contemplating suicide on a consistent basis. Until the magnitude of lockdown overtook him completely, and he began walking down a dark path of wanting to burn his family alive. It was around this time that this family encountered our team with our COVID-19 Compassion Campaign. Not only did he experience the physical love of God but also the emotional and relational love of Jesus.
This family and the many others we met began seeing a light of hope in the midst of darkness. Strangers would begin calling our team over from the sidewalk, asking for prayers. It was as if they knew something was different from what we were doing. They knew that there was something more than food and goods that we were giving out. They knew that after the food ran out, they needed something more. Food helps the stomach, Jesus gives us hope. And hope was something that they had lost and forgotten. Even the local church began feeling the same thing.
We Need More Church Services!
Our partnership with local churches was stellar, as God has always shown us in our past campaigns. When we realize we can’t do everything on our own, and we need each other, we need the body of God to reach as many as possible. That’s when we begin to see synergy and transformation on a long-term, consistent basis. Like the local communities, the local churches were also hurting.
Some churches in the Philippines make as little as $20 a week! And this was before the COVID-19 lockdown. This includes the provision for the pastor and his family, as well as the overhead cost for the church building and ministry. This was the budget before COVID-19. Now with COVID-19, imagine how much more devastated these diligent, committed workers are. During lockdown, the church was forced to operate online. However, this only works if you can go online. Most of the Philippines live megabyte by megabyte (literally 10 cents for a few days to surf online). They can’t go online for Zoom, and they can’t go online for church. The national average for internet is 1 megabit per second, while it is common in places like America to have internet as high as 50 megabits per second. This means that churches have been shut down at backbreaking speeds, and church leaders and families have followed after them. Nevertheless, it’s at moments like this that God breaks through the most!
Some churches in the Philippines make as little as $20 a week! And this was before the COVID-19 lockdown.
Historically, with our Impact campaigns, we don’t just partner missionaries with those in need. We work across multiple sectors of society. So, in one campaign, we will not only reach the lost, but we will partner with local churches for developing follow-up, government leaders to help organize the execution of the region, businesses to help donate any physical needs if possible, and community leaders to help gather the people. The partnerships go on and on. The best part is that when we leave, we don’t just leave a physical good or a track. We leave a new network of relationships for the local community to continue working with. At YWAM Impact, we continue working with all of these key partners and develop the progress of the region year after year. This has led not just to massive harvests but dedicated leaders that stay committed to the people that God has sent them to over the long-run.
As our Compassion Campaign comes to an end in these places, the local churches began feeling a boldness again with God’s love. By giving them tools and packages to help reach out to their communities, the government and health officials were more than happy to work with us. Not only were local government and health officials encouraging us to work in their designated location, but they also went with us! They, too, began experiencing the powerful love of God. They began seeing that in a sea of problems, there was a vast amount of God’s wisdom and opportunity all around them. As long as they kept their eyes on Jesus, they knew He could become their “New Normal.”
As long as they kept their eyes on Jesus, they knew He could become their “New Normal.”
With the help of the local officials, churches were able to slowly begin opening up again while still remaining faithful to the local COVID-19 guidelines. Now instead of churches having a lack, there was a surplus. Pastors and youth pastors had to start opening up not just 1 service, but 2 or even 3. We’ve seen this in the past, where a small group of 30 young people can explode to 300 in a year. However, in the midst of all this, it’s important to know the engine of movements is the local leaders committed to them. That is why we begin developing long-term plans with the local leaders in furthering their plans and visions. This can include leadership development for their staff, compassion initiatives, evangelism training, and more. In the end, the goal isn’t for us to have a good outreach but to make a great investment into the kingdom of God with the people we work with. As we look to the future, the progress plans of these leaders come with it.
…the goal isn’t for us to have a good outreach but to make a great investment into the kingdom of God with the people we work with.
Planning for One More Year of Lockdown
As it has been a year of lockdown, we are somewhat more educated on what we can and can’t do with our missionary work. As the need of the nation continues, compassion and relief are at the forefront. Next to this, discipleship and church planting most naturally follows. This year, we will continue to use the national lockdown as an opportunity to invest in our future leaders versus a problem in establishing God’s Kingdom. We have seen in the past, especially now that God is with his faithful. As long as we continue remaining committed to God’s will, we will always find his open doors.
- Third Wave of COVID-19 Compassion Campaign begins May
- Leadership Development Course begins June
- YWAM Missionary School begins October
- National Lockdown hopefully ends December
- The country opens up internationally again, hopefully beginning of 2022