Taking the Jeepney to Church
The Philippines is a young country, in the sense that so many of its population are children and young people. Aries and Jodith Liboro have worked hard to reach the children and young people around their church in Valenzuela City, North Metro Manila, as well as a second group who live some distance away in the area around their home. Getting these groups of young people to meet, and to come to church on a Sunday, is a challenge, as Aries explains.
We live in a housing subdivision about thirty-five minutes away from the church building. We bought a small piece of land here because land is three times cheaper than it is in the neighbourhood of the Church. Also, at the time, my Dad was still alive but had been diagnosed with lung cancer, so we chose this location in order to be nearer him and help with their needs.
About seven years ago, I saw that there were a lot of kids around and so I decided to start a Bible study for them every Saturday afternoon. Over the years the Bible study grew; I think we peaked at forty-five in attendance. Sadly some of the older youths gave up and stopped coming, but we are thankful that a good number of the original group from seven years ago still come today. They are now in their teens. We still get a good number in attendance, and the good thing about this Bible study group is that though some have stop coming, we always seem to get new ones to join the meetings. Last Saturday we had thirty young people there.
It has been my burden to try to bring these young people to the worship services on Sundays at the church building. It is my desire that they will be able to experience what worship is like in the context of a church service and that they may see how the Lord’s Day should be spent. Their parents are not believers, and so I was not sure whether they would allow them to come along. Because these young people have been coming to our Bible study for several years now, they know me well enough, and so I thought we stood a good chance that their parents would allow them to come.
The first time we invited them was two months ago. Our initial goal was to do this for one service a month, on the first Sunday of the month, though of course we would be delighted if they started coming every week. Unlike some other churches that have vans to collect their Sunday children and bring them to the meeting, our church does not own a vehicle. Instead, one of the church members meets with them at the gate of our housing subdivision, where they catch a jeepney and travel all the way to the church. Because a good number of them come from poor families, the church pays their fare, and we also provide a meal after the worship service, something we have normally been doing, so it is good that they can join us.
There is also a group of young people who live near the church building in Valenzuela. They didn’t come to our morning service, but they did come to our children’s Sunday school and youth ministry on Sunday afternoons. Like the group from our housing sub-division, their parents are not Christians, and wouldn’t come near our services. So we are trying to work with this group of young people as well, to encourage them to meet with us as a church, stay for lunch and bond with the group who come from around our home. This means that both groups could be together for the Sunday afternoon youth ministry, at least on the one Sunday when the group have bused over from our housing subdivision.
Ultimately, we want to see all these young people there every Sunday for our worship service, and wanting to be there because they have a hunger for the Word of God. We thank God for the young people we have in these two groups, both those we have known a long time and those who have joined them recently. Please pray that they will truly come to know our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray that more of them will take the step of coming to church regularly, and not just when we have a meal. Pray that as they listen to the Word of God, both in their youth groups and on a Sunday morning, that God will work in their hearts. There is plenty of religion in the Philippines, but it is just habit and tradition. Pray that God will do a real work of grace in these young people’s hearts, bringing them to faith in Christ. Pray that we will have the joy of baptizing those who are being saved and that this will be a powerful testimony to their families. Pray for those who are growing up and are able to fend for themselves, that they will become true disciples of Jesus, active members of the church and faithfully serve our Lord.