Church leaders in the southern Asia-pacific region join volunteers in ministering to the homeless
The early morning sun of September 18 streaked through the cracks of cardboard boxes and tattered canopies made from advertising tarps warming those sleeping underneath.
Mornings like this bring hope to many, but not to the clusters of people who live along the streets of Pasay city in Manila. Hunger pangs force them to emerge from their make-shift pods to find their next meal usually spotted under a pile of garbage or bought with loose coins given from passersby.
"These are the poorest of the poor," explained a yellow-shirted volunteer before joining the rest of the group from 5 Loaves Ministry. The bags the volunteers carry are not just filled with breakfast but with clothes and underwear, slippers and even bath essentials, which enables volunteers to give baths to homeless children on the spot.
The hearts of the volunteers beat for others as they share hope, health, and happiness in neighborhoods everywhere. The values they live by are to “Share, Help, Inspire, Nurture, Encourage,” or SHINE.
The mission, as always, is to share the love of Jesus by scouring the streets to give food to those who don’t have food or shelter. "You can see lots of these homeless people at Harrison, a nearby mall. They don't have houses but are living and sleeping in the streets", said Ian Bermeo, a proponent of the group.
Saw Samuel, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s regional headquarters in the Southern Asia-Pacific region (SSD), along with Lhalaine Alfanoso, SSD health director, and their families joined the volunteers as they carried out the ministry.
"It is easy to start something but to maintain that mission [requires commitment]," said Samuel as he encouraged the group and offered prayed for them.
Commitment is the norm for this group. "We're not doing anything extraordinary today but the usual," said Bermeo after he welcomed the volunteers that morning. "Remember to Smile. Extend a hand to touch the person, because it's very important that we connect with them. Introduce yourself. Ask them their names, and give encouragement.”
Samuel also added, "as long as you are willing to share half of your bread to those in need, God will always replenish what you have given away. I appreciate the simple things our church members are doing to reach out to people showing their total involvement to the mission of the church. If each member can do this, we will have a great impact toward other people. This is how we choose to emulate the method of Jesus Christ while He was here on earth to show His love to others."
The 5 Loaves Ministry started July 8, 2007 as a weekly Sunday morning activity. The group was organized by the local chapter of Adventist Community Services (ACS). While under ACS, the group was given a name that described its primary mission of the time - giving pieces of bread to the homeless.
For more information about 5 Loaves Ministry, visit facebook.com/our5Loaves.
Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are meant to permeate your whole life. Growing out of scriptures that paint a compelling portrait of God, you are invited to explore, experience and know the One who desires to make us whole.