The mission field always reminds us of what is also true at home: we may be big or little children, but we are all His created children with the same needs.
Whether we are teaching biblical creation or observing the heavens with little ones or staff at the Institute of Foundational Learning (IFL) in the Philippines, reactions to self discovery of what God has made are usually the same. We guess that a couple thousand people over the last four years have looked through the telescopes. God’s imprint of himself on us makes us want to question why are the heavens present. Then we want to discover and yearn to understand.
His imprint also makes us social. We want to be with each other when we do these things. The social part, however, never reaches its potential without a knowledge of God, which stems from a relationship with the One who created us. This particular ministry, where we have made several mission trips, is one of many that knows the importance of linking a relationship with God to other parts of life. For this reason, many of the staff are close to us; they share the same relationship with Him.
When we meet with our big friends, like those in the image, we smile, laugh, and work with them as brothers and sisters. Our fellowship is sweet. Notwithstanding, they need encouragement that they are not alone. They have their hardships and difficulties just like anyone else, but they work with much less than we have in the US.
We do a variety of things during our visits besides just talking, but talking or doing things says the same thing: we love them and they are not forgotten. To their credit, a good portion of the staff, including the director, are raising children that are not their biological children because children came to them in dire need. They do it one at a time, because looking at all the needs at once makes the task seem daunting.
Many little ones we know here are our friends, too, but the young ones are not so sure about the One who created them. Some know Him; many do not. So we back up the teachers and staff as we can by answering questions, giving little life lessons, and using parables where we can. Sometimes we just love them in simple ways. Sometimes we do a little teaching. Sometimes we do crafts. Our support has all sorts of applications for the children as well as the adults. After all, faith and works are supposed to be related (James 2:18-19). It is not one-sided. They have opened their lives and hearts to us.
The overall work has not changed for the IFL staff or us. One of their mottoes captures the bottom line: “Ultimately, souls for Christ.” The issues are the same anywhere, but it just so happens that part of our calling for the last few years was to help here. It is a bittersweet time as we start to pack to return home. We know we are going to miss those we love. But the job is undone at home just like it is at IFL. There are big children and little children at home, too. The task is the same: bringing people to a knowledge of Christ, if they will hear it, and encouraging those who already know Him. While we do that, we do the practical things as well. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?
Many have prayed for us or supported us in our work in a variety of ways. Thank you. And, pray for our friends at IFL, too.