Christian workers in the Philippines are forging new frontiers even as a resurgence of COVID-19 increases poverty and health risks.
“Due to the pandemic, in our area the lockdown is back, and no work is allowed,” a ministry leader said. “There are now no jobs that can help the families to find food to eat.”
With the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia and hundreds of cases of the highly contagious Delta variant, the Philippines saw the highest daily increase in new infections in two months at the end of July. The president issued a lockdown order on the metro Manila area to last at least until Aug. 20.
The island country has suffered more than 1.58 million COVID-19 cases and 27,722 deaths. Only 7 percent of the population is vaccinated.
Native missionaries said they were seeking the Lord’s help for both safety and the expansion of His kingdom.
“We are doing work for God’s ministry even though there is a pandemic,” a local ministry leader said. “Please pray for my family and church members and missionaries, for their safety and for us to be able to provide for basic needs. Please continue to pray for the ministries that are affected, as there is a need for food.”
Previously in his area, churches could still gather for worship if members maintained proper distancing, and the church also held different services throughout the week in mornings and evenings. They have seen the need for protective measures first-hand.
“Two of our young people who stay at the church tested positive for COVID, and they are now in isolation,” the leader said. “My friend’s wife died due to COVID, and some others are still in the hospital.”
Local missionaries are continuing to spread word of Christ’s salvation through personal visits and online means, he said.
“By God’s grace, 10 persons got baptized this month,” the director said earlier this summer. “They are serving God. The ministry has continued to grow, and we pray for more souls to be saved and baptized and added to the church.”
Christ Reigns in the Heart
The daughter of an elderly couple recently asked local missionaries to share Christ with her parents.
The ministry leader and team members joined her church pastor to visit them at their home.
“It was an honor to meet this couple – they were each in their 90s, they had been married for over 70 years, they had lived incredible lives and took great pride in their people and culture, as the man was a veteran,” the ministry leader said.
The tribal couple was in poor health, and the elderly mother was especially hard of hearing, he said. Their daughter translated the pastor’s Tagalog into the couple’s tribal language.
“With the help of their daughter translating, the pastor was able to communicate the gospel to the man, resulting in him accepting Jesus into his heart,” the leader said. “It was incredible to witness this man coming to Christ and to be part of his testimony. He was able to find new life in Jesus.”
Whole People, Whole Communities
One way local missionaries helped communities reeling from COVID-19 was to offer medical clinics where they provided both health check-ups and the gospel.
“One of our young people is studying to be a doctor, and she continued this ministry to help not only those who are sick but those people who are in good health,” the ministry leader said. “We support the ministry with time, talent, treasure and testimony.”
The pandemic has magnified the need for workers’ efforts to help the destitute in both rural and urban areas. Besides food aid, local missionaries make micro-finance loans available for the poor to sustain themselves by starting small businesses.
While family needs have grown more acute with the latest wave of COVID-19 cases, the Philippines’ ubiquitous street children are even more vulnerable than they were before the pandemic. Workers feed the children on weekdays and offer activities that draw them to attend Bible classes.
As a result, their parents then often surface as they have more contact with their kids, the leader said.
“There are many children that have no parents, but some were abandoned as they are from very poor families who have no jobs, so they have no homes and sleep and live wherever they can,” he said. “But we train our youth workers to teach them the Word of God, and as their conditions improve it gets the attention of their parents, and we train their relatives to make income so they have livelihoods to support and protect the entire family.”
In all outreach, workers are trained to engage people in two-way conversation, learning about others’ religious beliefs and sharing their Christian faith in a gentle manner, he said. Amid the pandemic, local missionaries also bring short, written lessons to household heads to teach to their families.
“We are always praying for our ministry to grow, and we are thankful for your help at Christian Aid Mission,” the leader said. “Because of your help, many people have heard the Word of God. We need your prayers and support for this great work.”
Please consider a donation today to help local missionaries survive and show the love of Christ to lost and hurting people.