‘Our exile is an act of God’

Many of us would have heard stories about people being stranded far from home, due to global government-imposed lockdowns to limit the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

The media has shared pictures of distraught Aussies stuck in South America and tales of those who are desperate to return to loved ones and familiar surroundings.

However, I have only heard one person refer to his exile away from home as an act of God.

In March, the president of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines, Rev Antonio Reyes, and his wife Arlene travelled 100km south of Manila to inspect a property that the church had purchased for a Lutheran fellowship centre in Tiaong. While they were visiting, the government decided to lockdown Manila, with all travel banned and harsh enforcement authorised. Unable to return home or to the church headquarters, Pastor Antonio says he and Arlene thought, ‘the Lord has a reason why he allowed us to be quarantined here’.

That reason became apparent soon. They began making friends with squatters living alongside the Philippine National Railway on land that officially belongs to the government. They invited their new friends to the new fellowship centre, where they discussed the Bible, taught the children and held ‘physically distanced’ worship services.

Recognising the physical needs of the people, Pastor Reyes reached out to his friends and family and asked for financial assistance to provide physical food in addition to the spiritual food he had been serving up. Early last month they distributed 5 kilograms of rice to each of the 21 families they had befriended, along with milk for the children and forgiveness in Jesus’ name for all!

Pastor Reyes says: ‘I believe that God has placed me and Arlene here for this purpose – to preach the gospel and help them.’

Surely every one of us could say the same – wherever we are.

Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray

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  1. […] In the Philippines we’ve been privileged to be able to support church workers as the church could no longer afford to pay their very small stipend. In order to keep the ministry functioning at this important time, our gift provided pastors and deaconesses with essential food stuffs so that the ministry could continue. The president of the church, Pastor Antonio Reyes, has been quarantined with his wife 100km from home and so he has started a mission among poor families living along the railway. Some of these funds have also assisted these people with basic food provisions and bibles. (You can read more about President Reyes’ story here). […]

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