By Trevor Perla
This past summer I had the opportunity to go to an amazing city in the Philippines called Cebu. We were the first group sent by Adventures In Missions to this particular location, and with a team of only three high school students and two leaders, we knew we were going to have an interesting month.
When we landed in Cebu we expected to have a nice day to rest after our 26 hours of flying but within an hour or two of stepping off the plane we were deep in the slums doing Vacation Bible School and feeding over 200 children.
Talk about some culture shock.
We did a wide variety of things on our trip from having a church service in a graveyard village to leading a “True Love Waits” seminar for a group of college students, but for the most part our trip we focused on two main ministries.
The first two weeks we worked at a before and after school children’s program called Loving My Neighbor. The 500 students who attended each week were sponsored by Europeans and Americans through an organization called Compassion International; you may have heard of them. Each day the children would come in for a couple hours and get a meal and a good Bible lesson.
For the second part of the trip, we spent most of our time ministering to a largely un-churched village called Basak. The Cebuano name Basak literally translates to “mud hole” in English and that is exactly what Basak was. The village was almost right at sea level and every time it rained or the tide rose really high it would flood and turn into the biggest mess you have ever seen. Our initial goal was to start up a weekly adult Bible study, but even with the frequent flooding we managed to start a bible study for each age group and a church service by the end of our trip.
There is always something on every mission trip that God will use to teach us and completely rock our world. For me, it’s usually something like a powerful verse that speaks to me or seeing a miracle happen but this time God decided to change my life with a homeless boy on the side of the road and my crazy friend with a huge heart. When the sun goes down in Cebu the sidewalks turn into something that looks more like a homeless shelter than a walk way.
People collect whatever they can find for bedding and go to sleep while dozens of “rich” folks pass by as if the homeless don’t even exist. Many times I would find myself doing the same thing the upper class Filipinos did. “Just keep walking and try not to look,” I would tell myself as I tried to come up with some excuse for not stopping to offer a few pesos, a snack or even just a hug. One night on our way back home from ministry we passed by a young boy, no more than 10 years old, lying on the curb having reactions to some drug he had taken earlier that day.
The moment I saw him my heart broke but of course I just walked on by. After taking about five steps past the boy my leader stopped and said, “I have to do something for that boy. I can’t just leave him there.” He went back and carried the passed out boy to a building nearby and laid him underneath the overhang so he wouldn’t get stepped on or ran over by a car.
The rest of the evening I couldn’t stop thinking about this event that lasted no more than ten seconds. “Why did I pass by the boy and not do anything? Why is my heart so numb to the people that are hurting? Where is my compassion?” I don’t remember the things I prayed or the exact sequence of events that lead up to it, but somehow that night after God exposed my hard heart He came in with a revival and radically changed my life.
The next day as I walked down the streets I could tell God had done something crazy. I just wanted to hug and love on every person I saw; it was amazing. But sadly, hundreds if not thousands of Filipinos live the life of this boy every day. They spend their days begging for money and food, their evenings finding drugs to ease the pain and their nights sleeping on the streets. These people need someone with a heart of compassion to introduce them to a Savior who can pick them up off the street and put them in the safe place. Pray for them, go to them and love them in Jesus’ name.
Trevor was born and raised in Houston, Texas, is 17 years old, and is sure that God wants him to serve full-time in the mission field. Next school year, he will be spending eight months overseas.