Ariela crying when she thought she can leave her home but realizes the military is still enforcing the lockdown.
Children Still Not Allowed to Leave Their Homes
Time Magazine has published that the Philippines is now into one of the world’s longest lockdowns (since March 2020). The greatest struggle for our family since lockdown began was the mandatory rule that children, the elderly, and pregnant women cannot leave their homes. This has made basic daily routines like going grocery shopping with the kids or letting your children go to playgrounds unlawful. With the ruling being enforced by the military with rifles, guarding checkpoints every few miles or so, any voice of the Filipino people (including ourselves) has been completely silenced.
We learned how quickly one of the most open countries to the Gospel of Jesus can turn against your family in less than 48 hours. Everything that we have been building with the youth, school districts, churches, was gone in a moment. With the mandate prohibiting some 40% of the country from leaving their homes (about 43 million Filipinos), the country is in desperate need of Jesus.
In one location of our COVID-19 Relief Outreaches, random strangers on the street would come up to our missionaries, not even wanting relief goods, but just sensing there was something different amongst them. What they discovered later was that we have the hope of Jesus in our lives, something the hopeless so desperately want. One father confessed to us he was going to burn his family alive because a fiery death would be preferable to the misery they live in every day. From day to day, they don’t know when they can go back to school, when jobs will be opened again, when food would be on their table. In some cases, parents have left their children and never returned. Children were just left in their homes wondering when their mom and dad would return but never did.
In our family’s case, it would become common to hug Ariela late at night only to find her crying in my arms wondering when she would be able to go to the market again. Ariela started having dreams regularly of being able to go out and shop at the market, visit playgrounds, and run around like all kids want to do at her age. She would wake up in the middle of the night weeping because she realizes she is still locked up at home with no knowledge of when she would be able to go out again.
Yet, through all of these hardships, we have found Jesus to be the answer to everything. Where relief goods are limited, and national leaders cannot help, Jesus has always filled us with the hope that allows us to see transformation wherever we go.
National Leaders’ Collaboration
Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With A Mission, sharing at our Call2All Leader’s Summit about empowering the Filipinos to reach their nation.
Because of the incredible stress, depression, and conflict of this ongoing military lockdown, Filipino Christian leaders across the nation have locked arms together in our Call2All Philippines movement like never before. Now, instead of a battle for territory, membership counts, and petty differences, churches all across the nation have banded together to see the hope of Jesus penetrate this land. After our All Philippines Summit recently, networks of over 50,000 churches have come together to accomplish the Great Commission. We are now working with top leaders around the country on developing a nationwide plan to church plan, make disciples, and preach the Gospel to the entire Philippines, something we could only have only imagined and dreamt of before COVID-19.
YWAM PH Campus Donation
Our 29-acre campus was also just recently freely donated to us after a 4-year legal process. Currently, our campus can host events of over 300 people, with dorms for about 150 people. There are also around 200 fruit-bearing trees and ponds that can be developed to rear 5,000+ fish for self-sustaining farming and agriculture. After much prayer and perseverance, we are now able to move forward with developing the land to host over 600 missionaries and become a national and international hub for Great Commission activity in the Philippines and the nations around us. Another prayer that God decided to answer during this incredibly difficult time.
For us, we have been living “out of our luggage” since we left America more than five years ago. With our family cramped in the Guest Speaker Room as our base, our growing family didn’t have a personal kitchen or personal rooms for a few years. But God, knowing exactly what we need when we need it, has given us a brand-new renovated house ($20,000 worth of free renovations by the owners that we never met until recently) plus free rent in a renewable written contract. Though the owners have never met us, after we video called, they decided to give us the house at no cost so that we could focus our time and attention on resources for the mission that God has called us to in the Philippines and nations!
Even Jeremiah was born the day of the new delta variant lockdown. On the day of his birth, the government gave new guidelines prohibiting travel between cities, and a complete shutdown of all non-essential businesses. There was the possibility that Claudia and I would have been separated during the birth, with Claudia given the chance of having Jeremiah born on a COVID-19 floor with new hospital restrictions. However, that did not happen because Jeremiah was born prematurely, still fully healthy, with no need of an ICU, and has now nearly tripled in weight and size.
Filipino Leaders from Orphanage and Tribes
And perhaps one of the greatest breakthroughs God has given during this time is seeing our disciples rise up in such a way I have never seen in the years that I have been here. Orphans have found freedom and transformation in Jesus and now are playing significant leadership roles in our movement. Tribal Filipinos have joined us and continue to grow alongside us and have even begun recruiting more tribal Filipinos to join the Great Commission movement. When lockdown began, we lost nearly all our top leaders, as most of them returned to their home countries. But now God has given back more than double of all the staff that left. As we continue into lockdown, we believe that we will have more full-time committed staff than we have ever had before. All this is because God is faithful all the time.
God is Faithful
Claudia getting ready to give birth with mandatory face mask policies.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
More than ever have we felt as if the whole world has left us. From not being able to host nearly 300 missionaries a year to our children not being able to leave our home, the impact of COVID-19 has been devastating. But it is so amazing to see how good God is. Every breakthrough in prayer God said He would do, He answered. Until now our family is still in awe at how much God has done in the most difficult time we have ever experienced as a family on the mission field.
Thank you so much for standing with us during this incredibly difficult time. We would not have been able to share the victories of God unless you had been with us during this time. We look forward to sharing more of God’s victories as we continue plowing in the fields of Asia. God bless you and we pray God multiplies everything you have sown into the nations!