There are many words that can be used to describe the experiences of the LoveWorks team from Point Loma Nazarene University, but the word “compassion” best embodies the three weeks that the team spent in the Philippines. Serving alongside one another and with the amazing people of the Philippines, we witnessed the true grace of God and His beautiful blessings. The team accomplished much, whether that be GMA Church of the Nazarene, Rowenas River of Life Community Church, APNTS, or Shechem House (a Nazarene home for survivors of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children, or OSEC).
To begin with, we started our time in the Philippines with the construction of a brand new playground for the children and families at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary (APNTS). During the build, the children came out to play with the team, their excitement growing as their new playground came together. It was amazing to see the teamwork that played a huge role in building something that the children could enjoy with one another. From here, we knew that there was so much in store for us in the next coming days of our trip.
With the playground quickly coming together, the team shifted gears and traveled to the region of Cavite to visit General Mariano Alvarez (GMA) Church of the Nazarene. Arriving at the church, we were welcomed by smiling faces and the sound of children cheering. As we walked into the church, we could feel the love and joy. At GMA Church, we helped to paint and clean the building. In addition, we also participated in the Blast Kids program, where we played games with the children, performed skits, and sang songs. Afterward, we visited the homes of children sponsored by Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. This was a moving experience. We were able to witness how the generosity of the church has truly shaped the lives of these children and their families. It was amazing to see how the work of God has impacted the lives of the people in Cavite. To finish off the weekend, we attended the church service with the entire community of GMA, where we got to hear a wonderful sermon from Pastor Gordon Wong. Our time at the GMA Church of the Nazarene felt short, but we met some amazing friends and experienced the true love of God.
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Coming back to Taytay, Rizal we finished our work and celebrated with the entire APNTS community the completion of the playground, now called Awesome Playground. It was a blessing to see that diverse community of people all gathered in one place. During our time, we also visited Rowenas River of Life Community Church, where we learned about their work within the Rowenas community. Hearing of how they planted the church and of their work to provide clean water to families within the area was truly inspiring. The LoveWorks team then led children’s ministry, where we sang songs, played games, and performed skits with the children of the Rowenas community. Our time in Rowenas was an eye-opening experience as we saw how the church brought love and support to the community.
Finally, we spent two weeks working in Shechem Home, a therapeutic residential care facility and assessment center for children who have been trafficked and sexually exploited online. While there we built another playground for the children and painted colorful murals on the walls. The team formed close relationships with the children and youth, laughing and playing games every day. Despite the language barrier between the children at the home and the LoveWorks team, it was amazing to see the interactions between everyone as we all sang and played games together. As our time together came to a close, we were blessed to see the colorful murals come to life and the children enjoying their new playset. Our time with the children was truly memorable. It has been a blessing to be able to experience life with such an extraordinary group of people.
The three weeks LoveWorks spent in the Philippines was filled with fun and memorable activities with some amazing people. But the greatest privilege was seeing how God could unite Nazarenes from such different parts of the world… From GMA Church of the Nazarene, Rowena’s River of Life Community Church, to Shechem home, the LoveWorks team felt the passion and joy of the Filipino people. More than that, they experienced the grace of God.
– Written by Brian Balisi, PLNU student and LoveWorks participant