2015 Angeles City – Danbi Lee

By Faith, Not Sight

2 Corinthians 5:7 reads, “For we live by faith, not by sight.”

I was originally not assigned to be a member of the Angeles City missions team. I was supposed to go somewhere else and for more than a week, I had opened my heart to this country and prayed for the nation and people there. I was on fire, fasting and researching about this country, and I was excited about my team, the pastors we were going to meet, and the food I was going to eat there. This is the reason why I have to be honest and say that I was a bit confused and disappointed when I was reassigned to be part of the Angeles City team. “What? Why?” After days of pouring out my affection to this other place, I asked myself, “Could I open my heart to another country again?” However, as difficult as I made it for myself, God started to soften my heart for the Philippines, especially Angeles City. I know now that Angeles City was where I had to go and where He had chosen for me to go. It is true that I would have also grown and learned a lot in a different country, but everything about my trip to Angeles City seemed so divine and put together beforehand that I felt like it would not have made sense if it happened in any other way.

Our team partnered with three different pastors while we were in the Philippines. But for the majority of our time there, we were with Pastor Ibay, a Spirit-led and fire-filled yet gentle man of God. If I were to sum up my whole time in the Philippines in just a few words, it would be unity and connection, divine appointments, grace, and hope. Now, I would like to touch upon these words in more detail.

Unity and Connection. During our time of preparation and training, I prayed for the unity of our team and also for unity with the locals, up to the point that it started to sound cliché. “God, I pray for unity. God, I pray for unity…” However, I secretly feared that unity would be difficult to achieve because first, half of our team were from Sydney, and we did not get to meet some of them until we arrived at the hotel. Second, no other team in New Philly had been to Angeles City before. New ground needed to be broken, new relationships established, and I feared because I believed I was not good with doing such things. However, unity and connection turned out to be so easy, and within a day, strangers became who they really are: brothers, sisters, and good friends. I did not have to strive to connect with the pastors and the church members. Despite cultural differences, we formed kingdom relationships that I know will continue to last in our hearts.

Divine Appointments. On our last day of ministry at Pastor Ibay’s church, our team grouped up in pairs or in threes with the young praise team leaders of the church. These young leaders were brothers and sisters who had given up their youth to serve the house of God. Even in their young age, they had chosen the Lord and were serving as worshippers. Our team leader Eunice encouraged the team to listen to the personal prayer requests of these youth and take time praying for them. The sister I was partnered up with was the daughter of Pastor Ramon, an NPWM pastor who had recently passed away. I began talking to her without knowing who she was. But when she opened up to me about her struggles of missing her father, I was in awe of God. I could not believe that the very things that she was sharing were the exact things I went through missing my own dad who had passed away a few years ago, exactly when I was most involved in ministry. Though I did not know her very well, I knew my experience of how I had grieved and fought through the difficult time of missing my dad would really uplift and comfort her. God knew that my testimony would release hope. I truly believe that He used one daughter, me, to help out another daughter He dearly loved. My conversation with this sister felt important and valuable enough for me to say that one of God’s reasons for bringing me to the Philippines was to bless, encourage, and comfort her broken heart.

Grace. While having a packed ministry schedule, being in a new climate, and eating new goods, some of the team members got a bit sick. I had serious digestive issues, and one morning, I woke up with a high fever and an aching pain all over my body. I was supposed to assist with VBS that day, but I knew I could not do it. I just did not have the physical strength to dance to the songs and lead the kids to follow along. By this point, I almost had to strive to stay in a place of positivity and joy. I told our VBS director, Helen, that she should ask someone else to be with her up on stage. However, as I was sitting down and blankly looking out the window, God began to remind me of the previous days of ministry where I had gone up and done VBS and received so much joy from doing it. It was more than just fun and funny dance moves. I was filled with joy from the children’s laughter and dance moves. Soon after that realization, I felt almost as if the devil was trying to hold me back from receiving that joy! Because I couldn’t let that happen, I told Helen that I would assist her on stage. Helen asked me “Are you sure?” and with my nod, we went up and began dancing. The first song was called “Absolutely Nothing.” And with the first word that struck my ears and the first dance move, I knew that absolutely nothing could get in the way of me receiving joy. Throughout the VBS session, I felt light and happy. By the end, I had no aching in body, no fever, and my stomach did not hurt throughout the whole day. It was once I stepped out in faith into God’s grace that I realized it was not just joy God wanted me to experience, but it was His healing power as well. This set the tone for all the other ministry times. Some of my team members experienced a lot of physical attacks during their free time, but once praise started, once the sermon was being preached, or when we were having a time of fellowship with the church pastors and leaders, many were able to overcome their sicknesses and be fully engaged during ministry time.

Hope. For some of our time in the Philippines, we partnered with Pastor Bob, another NPWM pastor in Angeles City. With Pastor Bob, we had a prayer walk in the red light districts of Angeles City. It was my first time doing anything like this. I had a mixture of emotions as I was walking down the streets. I was angry, confused, disappointed, sick, hopeless yet hopeful, furious and broken. Although it was right in front of me, I could not believe what I saw. However, that was when God spoke to me and reminded me, “Danbi, you live by faith and not by sight.” Immediately, I went from venting at God about injustice to praying the same prayer over and over. “God, you’re faithful to your beloveds. These are your daughters; they belong in your arms. Take them back Father, take them back.” No matter what I saw, I chose to believe that God’s hands were still upon this city. It was not just merely believing, but knowing who my God is and trusting that He is true to His character as a Father, a just God, and as Savior and Redeemer.

As a missions noob, I went on this trip thinking that I had more to learn than to give. However, as much as I learned, there was so much that God enabled me to give. If I were to focus only on the things that I saw, I know I would have come back home hopeless. There is so much that needs to be done. However, once I shifted my mindset that God indeed has been, is, and will be working in Angeles City. It gave me an assurance that allowed me to pray from a place of faith and hope. Angeles City is filled with God’s love, and from being there, I recognized how strong the love of God is on behalf of his people.

Thank you for supporting our team through your finances and prayers. Continue to look at this city with faith and not by sight and please continue to lift up this city in your personal prayer times. I guarantee you that you are sowing into grounds that will bear much fruit. Thank you!

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