Why the Philippines?

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Shortly after I returned from Uganda last fall, I remember sitting down at the kitchen table for breakfast, opening the newspaper and reading about how Hurricane Yolanda (also called Haiyan) had struck the Philippines. Tears came to my eyes, and compassion mixed with profound concern filled my heart. I began to pray for all the pregnant mothers and newborns caught by the devastation of the storm.

Within only a few days, the news began to report the effects of the storm on pregnant women in the typhoon-struck areas of the Philippines. With their homes swept away, access to medical care vanishing, the incredible stress and lack of clean water and healthy nourishment, many women were going into preterm labor. Emergency teams from nearby and around the globe were mobilizing to get there and help.

One such team was led by Vicki Penwell and Mercy in Action, another by Robin Lim, and and of course the Red Cross was there first. I began to pray that the Lord would make a way for me to go and serve as a midwife to Filipino families. After several months, the Lord has answered my prayer.  Tho’ center of the storm hit Tacloban, and I will be at a birth center in Davao, still I will be in the Philippines this summer, serving families in need, and this means the world to me.

I’ve been thinking about the verse from the Bible that says, “And God works ALL THINGS together for GOOD for those who love God and are called according to this purpose.” For my eyes did not turn toward the need in the Philippines randomly. I have been connected to those south-east Asian islands for many years.

When I was in high school, I moved to Vallejo, a city in northern California where nearly a quarter of the population is Filipino. Some of my dear friends in high school were second and third generation Filipino, so I was introduced to Filipino-American culture then, eating foods like lumpia and panzit, listening to the Tagalog language, and learning about the historical relationship between America and the Philippines.

Later on, my brother married his beautiful and beloved wife, my dear sister-in-law, Debbie, who has Filipino heritage, and my sister married her strong and courageous husband, Jon, a Navy man of Filipino heritage. So Filipino people became part of my family. Meanwhile, while I was serving as a professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, two of my closest friends were Filipina: Gemma de Luna and Vivian Vizcarra. I thank God for them, their friendship and the many times of prayer (and adventure!) that we shared together. I’m glad they’re praying for me now!

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Recently, one of my brothers was in hospital in Vallejo, and I went to stay with him for part of the time until I felt sure that he was getting stronger and recovering. Three out of four of the nurses helping us were Filipina. And I thanked God that I would have the chance to go to the Philippines and serve families just as these nurses were serving us. For it is true:

“God works ALL THINGS together for GOOD
for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

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