Desperate Times, Desperate Measures for Those Serving the Poor in the Philippines

Even as their own resources have dwindled amid the global coronavirus crisis, local missionaries in the Philippines are taking extraordinary measures to get aid to needy people hit by the pandemic.

Before transportation was banned in his area, one volunteer missionary took a part-time job as a taxi driver to survive; paying half of his proceeds to the taxi owner for the rental of the vehicle, he earned enough to buy only two kilos of rice for himself. He also picked up goods to be distributed to the needy under the ministry’s care, but the next day he fell ill and self-quarantined, the ministry leader said.

As the symptoms of the novel coronavirus mimic those of the flu, the worker, like hundreds of thousands of people around the world, did not know if he had contracted the potentially deadly virus.

“Praise God, his health condition improved,” the leader said. “We are planning to bring more food supplies and some essentials in their outreach. We’re purchasing, packaging and distributing goods to volunteers for them to distribute.”

“It is a scary time for many families who can’t earn to meet their basic needs – no means for food and even for sanitation products.”

With the ministry’s usual feeding center program closed, workers are picking up some goods and bringing them to needy children’s houses, she said.

“This is our fourth batch doing the distribution,” the leader said. “By next week, we need to buy more goods, and again we’ll be travelling to rural areas bringing some supplies. Please pray for God’s protection and provision that we can buy more sacks of rice, vitamins, groceries and some essentials.”

The Philippines is in lock-down, but some of the ministry’s volunteers have a “quarantine pass” to go outside.

“They helped in hauling the goods for distribution, of course with precautionary measures,” she said.

Workers were able to distribute in each bag five kilos of rice, a dozen eggs and other grocery items, with vitamins and other essential items given separately.

Scary Times

“It is a scary time for many families who can’t earn to meet their basic needs – no means for food and even for sanitation products,” the leader said. “We are scheduled to buy more vitamin C, hygiene and sanitation products; we will be going from one pharmacy to gather more.”

Local missionaries planned to return to a remote area not impacted by the pandemic to distribute those items, after distributing some in a squatter area of the city where the ministry is based.

“Even in this chaotic situation, we can rest in His faithfulness,” the leader said. “Though sometimes we can’t fully understand, our loving God is trustworthy in every challenging situation. The Lord never leaves us alone during adversity. Together, let us continue to pray that we will gain courage to persevere in this present world crisis, and we will be able to face it with confidence through Christ as we trust Him.”

A native ministry in another part of the island country is striving to help sidelined workers to survive – members of its churches. Farmers, fishermen, three-wheeled vehicle drivers, construction workers and other day-laborers have been ordered to remain at home.

“We call these workers ‘no work, no pay’ workers, as their pay is based on their daily work,” the ministry director said. “If they cannot do their daily work, then they cannot buy their food for the following day. I would like to request to please include in your prayer our brothers and sisters who are really affected and suffering in this pandemic. Please pray for 13 sacks of rice, four boxes of canned goods like sardines, five boxes of noodles, 80 pieces of detergent bars; these are good for 38 families.”

Special Services

With more than 6,500 active coronavirus cases and more than 500 deaths, the Philippines is one of the harder-hit countries in Southeast Asia, and the government has issued warnings that an already tough quarantine protocol could be further tightened.

Some local missionaries on the island of Luzon, where the virus has struck hardest, are connected with the provincial government, which has enlisted them to encourage overworked “frontline” doctors, nurses and other health workers, another ministry leader said.

“They shared the Word and regularly pray for them,” he said. “They will also be doing this in other municipal hospitals or health centers.”

In that area as in others, those afflicted with the novel coronavirus are hard-pressed to recover as hospitals are overwhelmed; administrators are opening overflow sites for patients at gymnasiums, sports complexes and schools, he said.

The missionaries are also permitted to officiate funeral services for those whose family members have died, he added.

“Where possible, in the rural and tribal areas, our missionaries also take time to visit homes to minister to people,” he said. “Our missionary training school continues to hold classes and training, being in an isolated community.”

Nearly every ministry leader assisted by Christian Aid Mission indicated they believed God was working His mysterious will through the pandemic.

“As we are all facing a very challenging situation of the world regarding COVID-19, no matter what happens, we can always trust God in the midst of fear and struggle,” one leader said. “He is big enough to bring good out of the worst situation. I believe these present trials will one day be over, and as we look back we will just be amazed on how He cares in everything we experience.”

While services have been curtailed, many local missionaries are finding ways to serve the physically and spiritually hungry in the face of daunting obstacles. Please consider a donation today to help them show the love of Christ.

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