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Notes from THE HAVEN
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Cebu Mssion Trip Part 1
We unloaded ourselves from the three tinted vans. Squinting to adjust our eyes to the bright sun, the marketplace waited before the 28, somewhat disoriented, strangers. The afternoon of baggage transferring, flying, and more traveling the day before had a larger effect as they expected. As the team approached the market, they saw a few people setting up some amplification equipment on a make-shift table. People gathered around the orange-coloured men and women, kids daringly approached the aliens, some pulling funny faces, some shying away.
John, pulled the microphone towards his mouth and said, “hello”, and there began the mission.
The next morning at breakfast, we considered what each of us had highlighted the day before. The surprise to experience 40 people stepping up for prayer at the market place, the crippled man, the two blind women, the pastor’s powerful prayer, the dramas, the children, ministering to YWAM and being ministered to, the complete awe of the response we have had and it only being the first day. Some were new to missions and remarked the structure of the church upon the bank of the road we had lunch.
The church was held up by structural wooden pillars with a tin-sheeted roof. The walls were lined with bits of wood and bamboo, uneven, revealing what was outside. “That was a house of God, and though it was about to fall apart, it is meant to be beautiful, a place people worship God”, I shrugged and nodded, trying to be polite yet making nothing of it.
Only an hour later, I found myself knelt on the floor of a church built on stilts, three meters above the waterline, in tears. There were children, all around. Wide eyed, hair bleached blond from the sun, the children were everywhere. Each team member negotiated the bridged pathway that connected the houses together in the tribe built on stilts. The planks of wood were worn and thin, there were gaps between them, to spread apart for a foot to feel secure. I would make my way forward, bending each plank to its limit before I stepped onto the side, temporarily lifting the bridge to the left or right an inch or two above the sand. It smelt of dogs and dried fish. After the 70 meter ordeal, the team settled down in the main hall, a sturdy structure with solid floors.
A small group of 7 ventured to bless the church, another 100 meters away. This bridge was in worse condition.
The church had gaps in the floor and was one of the further-most houses away from the shore, outside, two teenagers were playing with a plank of wood in the water. This was a house of God! A church that held seventy per service in a Muslim-dominated tribe. Right there and then, the words of my fellow teammate I dismissed only an hour before became ever so real to me. This is where God’s children worshipped him!
Praying around the house, I looked through the cut-out window into the opposite house and smiled at the family having their lunch. They ate from a large plate in the middle of the floor, the 3 adults and 8 children. Noticing me, the mother smiled and waved, beckoning me to come and share lunch with them.
Smiling I waved back and retracted from the window, finding the floor in awe of the magnitude of that simple gesture. I spend more money on a bus ride to Central than that family does in a week. People with nothing can offer me a place at their table, yet people at home will not even get up to give you a seat on the MTR. I have learned a desperation for God that I had never seen, a desperation that is very much needed in our own homes, in our own church and I have brought it home with an expectant heart.