Monday, July 29
Photo: Joyce Laroga, UCCP
In November 2011, about 20 Filipino pastors and lay and youth leaders of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) spent a day with garbage pickers/recyclers at the Smokey Mountain II Garbage Dump in Manila.
We learned about the dismal present-day reality of daily survival by picking through and recycling trash. Many earn less than $2.50 for 12 hours of intensive labor. Several youth shared about being taunted at school as smelling like garbage (whether they do or not), and others raised concern that many children are not in school. No one has running water, and the informal electricity network does not connect to most of the shanty homes.
Ministry with the urban poor can feel like stepping into an ocean of needs. However, my hopes lifted in talking with the community. They affirmed with dignity how hard they work and expressed commitment to strive for a better future, not just for themselves but for all Filipinos.
The following week church people, urban-poor leaders, and community organizers met at the Church People–Urban Poor Solidarity Conference to discuss how to cooperate more closely. The meeting culminated in an Agape meal—liturgically broken and shared to recall the miracle of Christ’s feeding of the multitude. As we broke bread, I thought of the UCCP Smokey Mountain II Preschool. It was begun in faith by a handful of church leaders amid an ocean of need. Now with almost 200 graduates, the small classroom, patched together from reused materials, stands as a testament that great miracles still spring forth in the midst of great need when we offer what we have in Christ’s service.
—Becca Lawson, PC(USA) mission co-worker, Manila, Philippines
Let us join in prayer for:
United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP): Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza, general secretary
National Council of Churches in the Philippines: Father Rex Reyes, general secretary
Philippines Christian University: Rev. Dr. Everett C. Mendoza, vice president
Silliman University: Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, president
Silliman University Divinity School: Dr. Lope B. Robin, dean
Southern Christian College: Dr. Proceso E. Umacob, president
Presbytery Partnership: Sacramento Presbytery and Presbytery of Chicago, with the UCCP
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Kathie Lyvers, PMA
Stacie Macht, PPC
Nancy Eng MacNeill, PMA
Let us pray
Great God, today we dare to live an ethos of abundance in oceans of heartbreaking suffering and oppression. Urge us to bring what we have, so that all may partake in daily meals. Bless the street dwellers, urban poor, landless farmers, out-of-school youth, refugees, migrant workers, prisoners, and unemployed. Bless the Filipino people - bless the world - we pray. Amen.