The flashlight on my cell phone lights my feet as I maneuver down the muddy and sometimes rocky path in the dark moonless night. Picking each step carefully I prayed not to slip and fall. Several times Donna yelled out “Whoops” as she fought to keep her balance when her flip flops slid in the mud. Jeramel, one of the young evangelists at Arapal, had driven us to a nearby village to conduct a midweek Bible study. I was one of three Americans who accompanied him; Donna Howard from Alabama was spending six months living and serving at Arapal, and Charles Pierson is an SHI board member like myself taking the SHI annual on-site visit. After Jeramel parked the small utility truck in the quiet village he led us to the place off the side of the road to start up the dark path that snaked its way between several dimly lit huts.
Arriving at a wide, level grassy area, we saw a platform made of split bamboo poles creating space for several people to sit. Dim light supplied by a forlorn electric bulb hanging from a tree peeled back the darkness. A few local people had already gathered there. After mutual introductions, Charles began speaking in English while Jeramel translated into the local dialect…… one of about 15 in the north end of the island of Cebu. An old man, a woman with a child on her hip, and a young family sat on a wooden bench added for additional seating as more people gathered to listen. Charles’ lesson included reading scripture that states we are all unrighteous and need a savior, Jesus Christ. Then he read scripture answering the question “What should we do?”
There were questions and comments before we prepared to leave. “You can’t leave now. You need to get under cover. It’s starting to rain.” said Mercy, a Christian lady who was there with her family. Previously Mercy had been an active church member but she had not attended for over two years. Her comments tonight gave hope that she would soon be returning. Jeramel knows those who are actively seeking a stronger faith and it was his influence guiding us to the humble hut.
As the clouds burst open, a family that lived close by led us to the bamboo shelter attached to one side of their hut. The space held their dining table with a bench on each side. Sitting there, I was across from the outdoor structure the family used for cooking. It was a large open-faced, box-like structure where the charcoal wood lay and the pots were stacked for cooking. I began to imagining how I would manage if I did all my cooking as that family did.
We were offered water and umbrellas as we waited for the rain to stop. Then we made our way back down the muddy trail to the parked truck where Donna and Charles climbed over the tall rail around the sides of the bed of the truck. They sat on the makeshift bench in the open truck-bed while I sat in the cab with Jeramel. We traveled back to Arapal over dark half-paved roads in the quiet of the night.
The five evangelists here at Arapal are determined to take the gospel to the people in this community, whether in the dark rainy nights or the brutal heat of the day. They are also determined to make the lives of the people better by teaching them livelihood skills. The workers here are doing their part. Let’s do our part by giving the funds to make their work possible. They need your help.