Have you ever felt frustrated by the way some young people focus their abundant energy? Gang activities, drugs, alcohol, and, in general, creating a mess are problems worldwide.
However, let me share a story that has a happier ending.
A group of young people formed a youth Community Health Evangelism (CHE) group in Antique, one of the Philippine Islands. Kids looking for something to do were attracted to these CHE leaders who showed real interest in them. They started off just playing some games. Then the CHE leaders asked them what they liked about their community, but the kids were more ready to talk about what they did not like.
Some the kids said they did not like all the trash that seemed to collect everywhere. When the leaders asked, “Where is the trash particularly bad?”
They all agreed, “Down by Mapatag Creek.”
The leaders asked, “Do you think we could clean up Mapatag Creek?”
At first the kids thought this would be impossible. There was just too much trash. But when they checked, they
thought maybe they could make it better. Individually, no one would have been willing to try, but together they said, “Let’s see what we can do.”
Despite the seeming impossibility of the task, they decided to work at it for an hour or two, and see if they could see a difference. It was a tough job, but working together was fun. Then, when they saw they were making progress, they really started to work with direction and purpose. With many bags, some carts, and a lot of vigorous cooperation, they accomplished their goal.
After they had finished the CHE leaders had them sit down and talk about what they had done. They were in high spirits and at first their attention was focused on joking with each other. However, as they settled down their conversation transitioned from the creek-bank cleanup to talking about the “trash” in their lives. This was trash you could not dump into a bag and throw onto a cart.
Everyone got quiet because this was “trash” they knew they would never be able to clean up by themselves. Then their CHE leaders described how they could turn to Jesus and ask him to do the cleaning for them. They listened while the leader talked about the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for them. The Holy Spirit moved, and 20 of the 50 kids accepted Jesus as their Savior!
The end result was transformation of both the environment and of the kids involved that
Does this sound like something you want to see around the world? Is it something you wish you could see in your own neighborhood?
You may ask, “How could I get involved?”
First, please understand – kids in the Philippines have a lot more in common with the kids you know than you may think. Having kids respond by saying, “Let’s give a try at cleaning up our town” is not what always happens. People in this community and around the world have been praying for change for a long time. God helped these kids respond the way they did partly because he wanted those pray-ers to experience the powerful effect of their prayers. Do you want to be one of the people praying? You could get started by signing up to be a member of the MAI President’s Prayer Circle. We will not only suggest daily prayer requests, but we will also keep you posted on what happens.
Second, the cost of CHE programs are greatly reduced through using community volunteers instead of paid workers. However, keeping volunteers motivated and organized is only possible because some of the CHE leaders are partly funded from outside their community. Would you like to join the group of co-workers who fund these key leaders from whatever bounty God has given you to share?
God tells us, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). Please ask God to grow your delight in him. Then, maybe one of the desires he will give you will be a longing to help MAI any way you can.
Finally, there is a new kind of Community Health Evangelism we are learning to apply in the United States and Canada. We call it Neighborhood Transformation, though other names can be used if that fits the needs of the group better. If you would like to talk about that, we are eager to hear from you.
So as you think about how God transformed a group of 50 kids in the Philippines, take a moment to dream about how God can use you and transform you, too.
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We appreciate your prayer and financial support. Without you as a member of the team, this ministry would not be possible.