As we move into the month of November, our minds naturally start to anticipate the holiday season. We’re thinking less about our exercise routine and more about pumpkin pie, caramel corn, and the obligatory roasted turkey. It’s also a time when we are counting our blessings, and as Americans they are many!
I was the recipient of an immeasurable blessing this year when I was asked to attend a mission trip with International Care Ministries (ICM) to the Philippines. ICM focuses on serving the ultra-poor in the Philippines, meaning men and women that earn $.50 per day or less. You may be wondering, how is it even possible to support one person on $.50 per day, much less an entire family? The answer is: it’s not possible. Thus, the extreme poverty.
However, ICM has developed an ingenious program that they use to treat the serious problem of poverty that ransacks this beautiful land, and they call it Transform. Transform is a 12-week program that addresses the needs of those in ultra-poverty on three levels:
1. Values: ICM works with a local pastor to find those who need the most help in the community and when they gather weekly the participants are taught the Word of God by the pastor and are presented with a chance to hear the gospel. (I’m sure by now you know that this is HUGE to me and one of the main reasons why I am so attracted to ICM!)
(The Pastor bringing the Word out of Matthew 12.)
2. Health: This part of the Transform program focuses on the family’s wellness and sanitation. One of the leading causes of death in the Philippines is diarrhea. Such an easy illness for us as Americans to remedy, but dangerously lethal for those living in poverty. ICM gives health solutions and teaches the Transform participant how to guard against such tragedy. They also administer Manna Packs (a fortified rice and soy blend) which can provide the family with several nutritious meals for the week.
(I taught the Health portion on diarrhea prevention. Thank goodness for a good interpreter named Denzel.)
3. Livelihood: You’ve heard the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This is precisely what the Livelihood portion of the Transform program seeks to do. The goal is to foster an entrepreneurial spirit among the participants so that they can have a sustainable source of income, whether it be by baking banana cakes and selling them in the marketplace or forming and participating in a savings group amongst themselves.
(A local savings group is being formed with the help of ICM.)(ICM helps the Transform participants start and maintain a garden.)
At the end of the 12-week program a graduation celebration is given for those that participated in ICM’s Transform Program and it is a true reason to rejoice. Not only are the graduates learning to fight poverty, but almost always new friendships have been formed within the group and the once unbearable weight of hopelessness is replaced with feelings of belonging and HOPE for the future.
Proverbs 14:21 states, “Whoever shows kindness to the poor will be happy.”
I love this promise in God’s Word for many reasons. One being that our happiness is directly dependent upon ourselves and the kindness that we give to others. But also because kindness shown to the poor creates a perfect triangle of happiness between us, those that we choose to bless, and our Creator.
This Thanksgiving it’s all about giving thanks with a happy heart. We have so much to be thankful for and showing kindness to the poor is one way that we can spread happiness and hope. Will you join me in partnering with ICM as they work tirelessly to provide serious solutions to serious poverty in the Philippines? If yes, then click below and allow your kindness to make you, others, and God happy!