Last week I was in the Philippines and during that time I was able to attend the Love Community Baptist Church which I had constructed more than 20 years ago. It was so wonderful to be with Roger and Rosie Rico, the pastors of the church. (Well, in Baptist circles they won’t call a woman a pastor, so Rosie is officially a “Bible Woman”. Baptists are masters of Political Correctness jargon!)
The church sits right off the Marikina River and the water reached over the lip of the roof of the second story roof. 26 people, including many children sat shuttering on the top of the roof in the rain and wind. After a few hours, some of the older boys tried to swim for help. All three boys made the swim through turbulent muddy waters, but their son (one of the boys) cut is foot in the swim. The foot was bleeding very badly so they went to the local hospital, which was flooded too and had no electricity. The doctors and nurses were treating people on the second floor of the building. One doctor stitched his foot up using a cell phone for light. The other two boys later developed infections from the polluted water and nearly died.
Once the waters receded, clean up began. Roger and Rosie literally lost everything they owned. Even their car, which they have moved to higher ground, was completely submerged in the flood. The ceiling fans were drooping down as they were warped from the water. Every nail was rusting and wood flooring warped and peeling upward. The entire community is still living there and slowly rebuilding. Many homes were destroyed and some neighbors even lost their lives.
Roger has already started to build a shelter on top of the roof so that if the flooding comes back (which it does every year when the government releases water from a dam up river) then they can sit safely on the roof until the waters recede.
You may be wondering: why not move? Many have asked them that question. The area they live in is only slightly better than a “squatter camp”. The narrow roads, endless numbers of shacks and masses of people can make a person claustrophobic. It is crowded and dirty. The river is black in color and filthy and certain to cause sickness to anyone who ventures into it. It is the unofficial sewer for 18 million people in Manila! Rosie worked in publishing and curriculum development which is a very good job. Roger is a talented mechanic and well trained pastor. Certainly they could afford to move to a better community.
Why don’t they move? Because God told them, more than twenty years ago, to love this community and they will continue to do so until God (not a flood) calls them somewhere else.
In the meantime, they are planning to add another floor to the church building so that they can have a school. They see education as one of the best ways to help the community. They continue to love people in the community, especially the children. When I was there, three young ladies accepted Christ and in previous weeks they had had dozens of people coming to Christ due to the outreach from the church. The “rescuers” are all gone now, and it is back to living their daily lives. They continue to be obedient to God’s calling and loving the community.
P.S. If you would like to help Roger and Rosie with construction, or funding to build a new library for their school, please let me know and I will tell you how to give. $3000-4000 would go a long way to helping them accomplish their goals. firstname.lastname@example.org