Thursday, May 21, 2015

College dreams

Getting a college education here in the Philippines is a luxury that many young people cannot afford. After graduating from high school, they may take up jobs such as farming, fishing, or working for a small business. Because impoverished families earn barely enough money to buy food and immediate necessities, they have no savings available to spend on college tuition.
Mark Jeperson and his family celebrating after his graduation ceremony.
Teaching at Holy Rosary High School last year, I fell in love with many of our students, but in particular with the senior class. As their English and religion teacher, I learned so much about them, their families, and their daily struggles. These are young men and women who deserve the chance to make a better life for themselves. They hope to complete their education so they can secure good jobs and provide for their families.

I want to make their dreams possible! I believe in these students. I am so proud of their hard work and even more so of their strong faith in Jesus, which has sustained them through the many obstacles they have faced.
Will you consider sponsoring one of my students to attend college? One semester of college costs approximately $350. Please follow this link to read more about our campaign and how you can donate!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A God of miracles

I remember, pre-missions, I used to pray for the sick, for ailing relatives or elderly neighbors. I would say a quick Our Father and then pat myself on the back, having done my duty as a believing Christian.

But what exactly DID I believe? Did I believe in signs and wonders? Did I believe that my God is a loving Father Who can and does answer my prayers?

Patients in the outdoor pending ward in Northern Mindanao hospital.
Some may wait for days before being admitted to a room.
No. I believed that somehow, in His mysterious way, God would hear me, and the sick person might or might not subsequently recover. But if that person had, before my eyes been healed of his or her illness, I would have been stunned. Miracles like that don't happen anymore, and even if they did, I'm certainly not holy enough to ask for or expect them.

This week, Richelo (read his story here) had to be re-admitted to the hospital. He contracted a staph infection from an open wound and was diagnosed with sepsis, a serious blood infection that can be fatal if left untreated.

During the worst of it, Richelo was convulsing with fever and could not look at us or speak. We stayed at his bedside with his family praying and reading Scripture. 

No passage was more fitting than that of the death of Lazarus. Just as Jesus delayed two days before going to see him, so we had also for two days delayed our trip to the island of Mindanao to visit Richelo. Just as Jesus wept, so we now wept at the bedside of this feverish man whose mental capacities, the doctor explained, were deteriorating before our eyes.

And yet, we had hope! As Jesus says of Lazarus, "This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it." Reading those words, our faith grew stronger, and we knew that the Lord had heard us.

In the middle of the night, Richelo's condition worsened and the doctor prescribed yet another expensive medication. But at 3am, the hour of mercy, Richelo miraculously opened his eyes! When I returned to the hospital the following morning, he was talking and looking at us. He required neither the extra medicine nor the recommended blood transfusion. Praise JESUS!! We all prayed in thanksgiving for this remarkable improvement.

Jesus told the disciples that the reason He allowed Lazarus to die and then raised him back to life was "so that you may believe." Perhaps it is the same with us. Not so much for Richelo, but for our sake, that we might believe.

Please pray for Richelo's continued healing from this infection and for a miraculous healing of his kidneys.

Richelo, holding the crucifix we gave him.
"I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." - John 11