Living in an area like the Baseco slum in Manila Philippines isn’t easy. Most of the kids don’t have clean clothes, if they have them at all. People living here are labelled as poor and often mistaken as criminals. The slum is situated near a port and used to be a dumpsite for corpses. Crime is rampant in the area and some taxi drivers won’t take tourists there as they fear for their own safety.
In Metro Manila alone, an estimated four million Filipinos live in squatter areas or slums. These people are among the poorest of the poor. An average family will have 5 children and the entire family lives on around $2.50 per day. Every day in Manila, more than 75,000 children work, play, beg and sleep on the streets of the city.
But if you wander down Molave Street in Project 2 & 3 of Quenzon City you will be blessed to find Dina, a volunteer worker at the Church of the First Born. She’ll great you with a warm “Magandang araw!” which means beautiful day and is the equivalent of “hello”, plus her broad smile will convince you that the day is beautiful, despite the surrounding poverty and squalor. To say that Molave Street is in fact a street at all is something of an over-statement, it is more like a mud and sewer track through a scattering of make-shift shelters of plastic, wooden off-cuts and cardboard. But it is here that Dina has found her place to serve the Lord. She lives and works on-site at the church which is a bare cement-block structure with just walls and a roof, but no doors or windows. Even so, it appears somewhat “up-market” by comparison to the other decaying dwellings in the neighbourhood.
Dina attended Bible-based Literacy and Church Planter Training with Bible League and today has a ministry to the people of Quenzon City, a “suburb” in the Baseco slum. If you ask her what her ministry involves, she simply shrugs her shoulders and answers: “whatever arrives at the doorway of the church. People in this community have all sorts of needs and we minister to them in whatever way we can with the little that we have. Jesus commanded us to be His hands and feet and that is all we want to be. If we can do that then we are doing what He taught us to do in His Word”. Some of the practical opportunities include rescuing an abandoned, unwanted baby left on the doorstep, taking care of some children while their parents go off to beg, or reaching out to a single-mom who is caught in a cycle of unwanted pregnancies. Dina’s face lights up when she shares: “each of these situations has a practical aspect, but more importantly, each is an invitation to share Christ’s love and saving power with them. God uses their situations to draw them to Him.”
Being a volunteer means that Dina has no income from the ministry which she does and as a result she sews to afford food for herself. But she doesn’t sew clothes or other items of value, Dina takes large bags of offcuts from clothing factories which she buys in bulk and then sews together the “swatches” of colour to make cleaning cloths or swabs which she sells in bundles of a dozen for a mere 30 cents. She labours away at her pedal-powered sewing machine and manages to earn between $4 and $5 a day. Any visitor who can afford a bundle or two of her swabs is blessed to not only have something so basic and useful, but more than that to know that they are helping to feed this wonderful worker of Christ, someone who is truly the hands and feet of Jesus!
Bible League partners work in many countries around the world, including the Philippines. By running Bible-based Literacy classes and training, Church Planters like Dina are able to minister in their local communities and plant God’s Word where it is needed most.
Support others like Dina today by giving towards the resources they require to run Bible-based Literacy and help provide hope for slum residents.
The ministry of Bible League New Zealand is able to plant God’s Word solely through the generous support of the Christian community.