However when I arrived in the Center for Change in Binaunan, Leyte., I knew God has set me up for bigger things. First, I did the opening prayer for the simple children's program. Second, I counseled teenagers. (Something I was not prepared to do and for more than 10 youngsters; all clamoring for attention).
However, one special incident which happened in the midst of all the activities there will forever be etched in my heart: A young man, 18-year-old, approached me to tell his life story. I was shocked out of my wits because it's our first time to meet, yet he had the urge and boldness to tell me the most significant aspect of his life. He started his narrative in this fashion -- he was born in Manila. Then when he was old enough to travel, his mom scurried with him to Tacloban. Then the incident he regrets the most in his young mind, transpired. His own mom left him in the city to survive on his own. After many days of roaming the city by himself, God moved and he finally found himself in the orphanage.
I was moved beyond comprehension. Disgusted and angry, I asked myself -- how can a mother abandon her toddler in a big city? Doesn't she care about her child? Does she love her child? If she does, then why leave him to fend for himself in the dangerous streets of Tacloban.
Maybe even in my whole lifetime, I will never be able to formulate an acceptable answer to those questions. While I listened to his story, I felt overwhelming compassion. Something Jesus felt for the multitudes in this verse:
“I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. Mark 8:2
Back to the orphanage, he led me to his room. He stays with 2 other people. One woman who's advanced in age, and another orphan who's younger than him. He pointed to his bed saying that's where I sleep. Next, he led me to his locker. He told me he shares it with another orphan.
What struck me the most is why among the members of my team did he pick me to share all of these things. In hindsight, now that I'm settled in my familiar environment, my home office, I realize, he was longing for a father figure and someone to guide him in his affairs who is male. From my conversations with my team, I found out, all the house parents and staff in the orphanage are females. And one more thing, I realized, as I prayed that God has assigned me to him. While writing this article, I have come to the conclusion that he needs my help and I have the desire to contact Miss Margaret Pashley, the orphanage founder to ask her permission for me to have an ongoing correspondence with Roel (the young man). Maybe in my humble means, I will be able to help him in whatever needs he has during this time of his life.
With my experience in the orphanage, I realize how blessed I am to have grown up with my own parents, had a house, stuff I personally own even as a child, nice clothes, and most importantly, education in the best schools in the country. Sometimes we ordinary mortals, even us Christians, take for granted the blessings God has bestowed upon us. My trip to the orphanage was an eye opening experience that has intensified my thirst for ministry, for meaning in my life, and for a more rewarding spiritual journey with our almighty Father.
Looking back in my preparation to join the relief operation in Tacloban, God has impressed upon my heart that he has loaded me with writing assignments to bless me with more than enough funds to go help the Typhoon victims but most especially to help Roel who is longing for a father. The Holy spirit is also guiding me so in a special arrangement, I can experience how it is to be a father. Even in an unorthodox way. Who knows I might decide to convince my wife for us to help Roel for further studies.
All in all, my experience of visiting the Center for Change has enriched my life not only as a minister but even as a member of the human race.
In all of these matters, to God be the glory!