2015 Manila – Esther Keyser

A God-Led Adventure in the Philippines

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” – Romans 10:15

Nothing could have prepared me enough for what God was going to do on this mission trip. As I look back, trying to figure out what on earth I can write, to try to share what the Lord did, I realize that no amount of typing can do me justice. I am so blessed to have been part of such an incredible team, and am so honored that God chose me to see what He is doing in Manila. He is moving powerfully in people’s lives, in some of the poorest and most desolate places. What an adventure!

Our trip was jam-packed with ministry, from the instant we arrived in the Philippines. Our days mainly consisted of visiting churches in the Manila area. These churches were part of Pastora Ucat’s church plants. Pastora Ucat is our local contact through Native Partners for World Mission (NPWM). Each of these churches were so different from each other, yet each was filled with the presence and Spirit of God! Some churches had education programs for the neighborhood children. But each church had leaders who had started serving in the church from a very young age- even just eight years old! We were so blessed by each church we visited. After ministering, we had opportunities to fellowship with these young leaders and pastors. It was so amazing to see the wonderful testimonies of what God is doing through them. And they served us the most delicious food! Wow! We also were so blessed in the way they opened their homes to us and gave us opportunities to see how they lived. We got to pray for them and their families. It was a beautiful and special experience! Definitely something that will always remain in my heart.

There are so many highlights from this trip, enough to write a book, so I will try my best to pick just one. I think the most prominent highlight to me was the day our team visited Maliksieh Church on the outskirts of Manila. The lead pastor of this church was Pastor Ezekiel, one of the pastors who was leading our mission trip that week. This church was the poorest out of all the churches we visited. It was referred to as the “floating church” because it was built on the river. I remember the walk to the church. The walkways were so narrow. People seemed to live on top of each other. Dirty plastic bags and clogged the rivers and gave a “not too pleasant” smell. Yet every person I met had the most cheerful smile. Every other sign other would say “Merry Christmas” even though Christmas had long past. When I poked my head through the church’s door, I was greeted with much excitement by the leaders. There was such a feeling of joy and love in the air. God’s presence was so thick, and we hadn’t even begun the service yet!

Within minutes, the tiny church begun to be filled by mamas, their babies, and beautiful children. The church was so full. People stood outside the doors and windows in order to join in. But it was when Pastor Susy (our team preacher) called for a public salvation prayer, that my whole being transformed. As I stood and looked at how many children (over 60) and adults decided to give their hearts to Jesus, my heart just burst. Never in my life had I witnessed something so powerful! All of a sudden I saw how much God loved His people. Here were young and old, who without hesitation, decided that they needed Jesus. He was the answer. He was their hope. In the natural, they had no hope. They lived in a “dump;” one of the poorest slums in Manila. They were probably tempted to feel that they had no bright future ahead of them. But they also knew that Jesus could give them everything and anything they ever wanted. For the first time, they could start to dream! How great a God is our God? He who can give full life even in the most dreary circumstances? Wow!

The church and its young leaders were filled with excitement and such joy in this moment. God was moving so powerfully in this church in a way no one could have expected. It was such a blessing and an honor for me to have been able to share in something like this. When we left a few hours later, we all knew God was doing something very special in that “floating church.” It really struck me again how good of a father our God is. With Him, so much is possible! Where there had been despair, He brings hope. Where there is death, He brings life. I can’t describe what it feels like to see someone who had just minutes before looked so down and beaten by life, to see them radically changed by the supernatural power of God’s love. It is indescribable!

God has such a warm heart for the Philippines. There is such a hunger stirring in the hearts of people to get to know Him more. God likes nothing more than a person who is hungry and desperate for Him! It has left me starving for more of God’s presence and heart! Please continue to pray with me for the Filipino people! Pray that God’s love will wash over their hearts. Pray that healing and restoration will be released in the families. Pray for the churches who struggle daily with provision and finances. Declare that they will have no more lack. God is with us, and He will never leave us!

Thank you so so much for your continued support and prayers. This was the most exciting adventure I have ever experienced! I am in awe of how great and powerful God is and that I can be His instrument. God stretched and used me in ways I could have never even dreamed! I am so happy to have Jesus as my Saviour! He makes me dance for joy! I pray this gave you even the slightest glimpse as to how glorious is our Father in heaven :) Amen!

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