Meet Abby
screen-shot-2012-06-06-at-1639161Abby walked towards me. She had been in the morning service at which I had preached about God’s heart for the Poor a few hours earlier. Could it really be true that this young good-looking woman lived here?

I was standing in the midst of Bamboo Village. Contrary to the image conjured up by such a name this was no idyllic rural community but rather a community who lived on the site of what had been a bamboo plantation, a community living in shacks on stilts to keep the floors of their houses above the stagnant swamp that filled the air with a stench of rotting vegetation and sewage – above the swamp, that is, until torrential rain causes floods which fill the houses with disease-laden water.

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Abby is a worship leader. She has always lived in Bamboo Village in the heart of one of the most densely packed conurbations in the world, Metro Manila, a screen-shot-2012-06-06-at-1609103 conglomeration of sixteen cities with a total population in excess of 12 million, itself situated within Mega Manila screen-shot-2012-06-06-at-162130whose population exceeds 35 million. A short ride in a Jeepney, a bus based on converted US army Jeeps, takes you to prestigious and architecturally attractive high rise office blocks and apartments set in tree lined avenues. What a contrast in such a short distance!

screen-shot-2012-06-06-at-162855A Trophy of grace
Abby is one of about 30 Christians from Bamboo Village who attend House of Grace Community Church led by Eden Singson. She is truly a trophy of grace, as are others on a ‘street’ in the Village where most of the Christians live. Eden regularly visits here and it is through the love of Fe, his wife, and himself that there is a beacon of light in a dark community.

I need you
In 1 Cor 12 Paul writes about the body of Christ and the gifting the Lord gives for the health of the church. In verses 14-26 he illustrates, using the parts of the natural body as an analogy, how each person is vital for the whole body to operate as God intended. The foot cannot say ‘because I am not a hand I am not part of the body’ nor, similarly, the ear of the eye (1 Cor 12:15, 16). The foot and the ear in this illustration represent the voice of the poor. He then goes on to say that the eye cannot say to the hand ‘I have no need of you’ nor the head of the foot (1 Cor 12:21). This is the voice of the rich.

We each need each other and if some part of the body is not functioning properly and does not recognise the importance of every part, we shall all suffer.

Future empowerment
I was delighted on my visit to learn that Eden and Fe, with one third of their church coming from Bamboo Village, recognise the vital place members of that community have in contributing to the welfare of the whole church. They are now about to launch ministries to train some of the poorer members in job skills to empower them to become economically self-sufficient, and a feeding programme to supplement the diets of some of the malnourished children in that community.

It is with great interest I shall watch how this releases more of their members to function fully in their gifting and thus become more active as contributors to the health of the church and participators in reaching out into their communities with the love of Christ.

Well done Abby! You are a great example.

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