Dean takes Davao street kids to Samal Island
I wondered (almost out loud) how a country that had been occupied by Spain for 300 years and by the United States since the war with Japan could be so poor and so apathetic toward its own abandoned children. I soon learned that this life-threatening scene was not unusual in Manila, Cebu and Davao.
During the same trip to the Philippines, I met children at the infamous Manila city dump known as Smokey Mountain because smoke from burning trash heads toward heaven 24 hours-a-day. I saw destitute young kids vigorously searching fresh garbage for a morsel to eat and any salvageable metal, plastic or wood to sell.
I met two abandoned girls next to Smokey Mountain and found and hired an elderly woman working as a volunteer at Youth With A Mission in Manila to feed and care for them in her own apartment. The woman was poor but well educated and happy to help the girls and earn some money.
Then I left Manila for Cebu, the second largest city in the Philippines, and I found a group of homeless street kids sleeping on cardboard under a bridge at 3 am. Once again, homeless street kids had banded together to have a better chance of survival. The limbs of their little bodies overlapped and touched each other so if something would have happened to one, the others would know and respond. I came back about 7 am and invited the kids to breakfast at McDonald's but the security guard wouldn't let us in until I convinced the manager to change his mind.
We could hear a pin drop as we entered the already crowded restaurant. All eyes were riveted on us. I told my new little friends to be seated and to wait for me and then I headed for the food. The McDonald's counter crew helped me carry several trays with food for 13 kids back to our tables.
With no coaching from me—each and every child ate very slowly because they didn't know when they might eat again and they wanted to savor every precious moment. To me, this memorable event was like having Holy Communion in the presence of angels disguised as street urchins.
On that morning the street kids reverently and literally ate their bread of life. Words cannot express the profound and lasting impact this meal triggered in my resolve to make a difference for these homeless street kids and many more like them in Manila and Davao.
With no contacts or connections in Cebu—I happened on a Christian Bookstore and asked the young man near the cash register, "Do you know of anyone who loves God and street children?" He said, "Yes, as a matter of fact, my pastor's wife has a heart for street kids."
He gave me her phone number and we met. Then she suggested I phone two Christian couples who were anxious to meet my new little street friends and both couples met the little rascals and agreed to care for three girls in the group and raise them like their own daughters. It was thrilling to see how God opened life-changing doors with no budget, advance planning or infra-structure.
These experiences re-ignited and fueled a personal passion to rescue more homeless street kids in the Philippines. Thousands of these tough, but vulnerable, little ones roam the streets at night hoping to eat. And Death Squads in Davao are killing precious little ones because they break car and store windows to steal anything that they can eat or sell in an attempt to survive.
The Bible advises us to care for widows and orphans and Jesus told us about the good shepherd who left 99 sheep to go rescue one lost lamb. Tonight in Manila, Cebu and Davao, thousands of hungry, homeless street kids will not meet a Good Samaritan who will treat their open sores or feed them and give them a safe place to stay.
And this is a tragedy that Sparrows Gate will continue to confront because Jesus commanded us in Luke 10:37 to follow the example of the Good Samaritan and in His words, "Go and do likewise"—to rescue half-dead strangers on the road.