I continue to meet amazing people here as I teach pastors. But two in particular stand out to me.
The first, Pastor Larry, grew up and now ministers in Tondo, the super slum of Manila. He was the son of a violent drunken jeepney driver who beat his family severely. At five years of age, Larry ran away, vowing to kill his father. Homeless street life was far better than home. As he got older he began to drink and do drugs himself, filled with hatred and hopelessness, living in extreme poverty.
A kind school teacher introduced him to Jesus. But other than going to church events to get some companionship and food, there was little change in his life.
They produced a play based on the Good Samaritan with Larry, a young teenager, playing the villain who beat up the man on the road. There was a prize which the others promised he would get it because of his poverty. He was very eager to win. In his drug heightened zeal to be the best he pulled out his switch blade to attack. The others were barely able to stop him and he landed in jail.
There he met a godly chaplain who ministered to the depths of his heart. As the Spirit took hold, the chaplain told him he must forgive his father. How would it be possible? He went to his home, walked up to his evil father. The heart words “I forgive you” came as he hugged his father. To his amazement, tears began to flow from his father’s eyes and the hug was returned. Sobs and confession followed and the transformation and reconciliation began. A couple of years later Larry baptized his father and others in the family.
Now Larry is a pastor on the streets, distributing breakfast to 500 street children twice a week. There is no support but somehow they find some money for the the powdered milk and bread. He oversees four other pastors who work with him in their little church and the ministry.
My heart filled with praise and wonder as I prayed with and for these amazing young men.
The second is Pastor Joy, one of the pastors at The Word for Everyone Movement, the host church for our time in General Santos City. I was at the venue early for the last day of class, well before the rest of the 86 pastors arrived.
I greeted him and asked him how he was doing. He responded, “I am quite tired.” “How is that?” I asked. “My only son died a week ago and I have been up almost all night preparing for his funeral this afternoon.”
I was stunned.
“Your son died?” “Yes. He was my only son. He died of cancer.” As we talked it turned out that he was so eager for the chance to learn about interpreting and preaching 1 Peter that he wanted to get every possible minute of the class. I asked if I could pray for him and begged God’s mercy on him and his wife, hope in the terrible loss, and powerful presence of the God who knows how it is to go through the death of a Son.
Then I taught very humbly and inadequately on the theme of suffering in 1 Peter. Who is adequate for these things?