This tells how it all began that we would be helping poor children in the Philippines, a country so far away. Ras Robinson is president of Fullness in Christ Ministries. If you wish to know more about him, check out his blog. You can also go to the Fullness in Christ Ministries website.
How It Began
By Ras Robinson
It was a typical hot, humid afternoon in Lapu Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines. We drove onto the property of the city garbage dump. The smell, the smoke from the ever burning fires and the heat combined to make it very unpleasant. As I looked out the window, here they came. It looked like hundreds of little children running toward our van. They recognized it because local pastor Robert Cuenca came regularly with his family and church members to bring food and Bible stories for the children. We stopped as the children surrounded the van and I looked down into a pair of big beautiful brown eyes. A little girl looked up at me. Her face was smudged with dirt and soot. Her clothes were dirty and ragged. Those brown eyes and her big smile pierced my heart. I choked on my tears. That was my introduction to the children living at the dumpsite. The experience changed my life.
God spoke to my heart that day and I told him I would spend the rest of my life helping these little ones. God showed me that it is important to feed them and take care of their needs and tell them about Jesus their Savior. He also showed me that, through education, some of them could break the cycle of poverty inherited from their families. You see, these children were not in school. Some were 10, 11 or 12 and had never been to school. Some had attended, but with no regularity. They were destined to repeat a cycle of poverty into which they were born. In the Philippines, it costs to go to school. Even in public school, children wear uniforms, pay tuition, pay for books, various school fees and, of course, school supplies. We did not have much, but we used what we had and that first year, we sent 8 children to school. The next year we sent those same children plus 4 more to school, paying all of their school expenses. That year an elderly lady in our church asked about helping one of the children and we had our first “sponsor.” She was delighted, we were delighted and the little boy she sponsored wants to grow up and be a pilot instead of a trash scavenger.
In 2003 a pre-school was begun at the dumpsite of Lapu Lapu City because many of the children were not ready for school. I visited the school and was overwhelmed. There were 10 to 12 year old children in the pre-school who had never been to school. They were overjoyed. In the school at the dumpsite, they were learning personal hygiene and character qualities. They received breakfast every morning and learned how to read and write. The mothers came for lessons on parenting and life skills. The preschool graduated 10 children and we added them to our “school list” for public school the next year.
The Philippine school year goes from June through March. When school began in June 2005, we were sending 27 children to school. Thirty-one additional students were enrolled in pre-school. We had more individuals and groups wanting to sponsor the children. Some friends told us to consider the possibility that we would send 100 children to school in June 2006. Though it was a stretch to believe we would grow from 27 children to 100, somehow we knew it would happen. We began to get photos and information for the children from, not only Lapu Lapu, but also from other pastors across the Philippines who had similar situations. We put out the word to our mailing list that we needed sponsors for the children. The response was overwhelming.
In 2005 a church was begun at the Lapu Lapu dumpsite in order to minister more directly to spiritual and physical needs of the children and their families
In June 2006, we sponsored 153 students from 4 different locations and began support for 2 additional pre-schools. One of the pre-schools is on the island of Samar, the poorest island in the nation. We also began support for job training for young men and women who have no family or education.
In 2007, we sponsored around 500 children, including a few in college. In 2008, the number grew to 650 in 29 locations on 4 islands. Then in 2009, we experienced the first decrease. Because of the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the number of students we were able to sponsor decreased to 545 at 25 locations. In addition, we help with the cost of one pre-school instead of three. While some of the other “extras” of ministry had to be dropped for a time, we were able to keep the sponsored children in school. We are grateful.
In 2010, we are currently sponsoring 489 students at our 25 locations. The past two years have been a financial challenge as we have worked to provide the basic needs of our children with much less income. We rejoice that God has made it possible for us to continue this ministry to the children. Many of our sponsors have doubled up or sent extra to help provide for those who otherwise would have been dropped. We look forward to better days ahead and still have a goal for sponsoring 1000 children and youth and providing their most basic needs.
You can be a part of changing the life of a child. Sponsor A Child Today.