The New Year brought a lot of new things. I moved from Manila, my home for just over a year, to a new home 8 hours north to Baguio City. In my new context, there's a new language I get to try and understand, Ilokano. It is also a new environment where it can be bitter cold compared to the blistering heat down south. It's also new work, moving away from mining issues and focusing on rights of the children with a new organization, the Cordillera Human Rights Association.
With these new challenges, I'll get to see and be involved in how the church weaves its responsibilities into an area where our greatest natural resource with the most opportunity is also the most vulnerable. Within the rural provinces in the mountains, schools and the children that fill them are exposed as they're caught between the government and the insurgency they have been running a campaign against for nearly forty years. Children have the same rights as any other person, but given their nature they receive protection extended to having their place of learning being a weapons free environment, free from interrogation, conscription, or closure. Children in these provinces are put at a disadvantage when their schools have to be closed for weeks at a time due to fighting, when tension and fear keep them from focusing on their work, or when either side of the conflict prod them away from school into their causes.
These same children are where the hope rests in a greater and more peaceful Philippines, and through the resources given to the church, we can empower them to grow up and realize these goals. As they are, however, they can stand as an example of how to achieve these goals. Matthew 18:2-6 “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” They exhibit the best way to bring God’s will done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Through our offerings, we contribute to their success. They have a voice and we're able to give them a loudspeaker. Week of Compassion is a time to remember that through the act of giving, all our small parts create a summary that promotes our church's will. Week of Compassion also allows me to serve the church and be an extension of that will.
Matthew Fehse serves as a Global Mission Intern in the Philippines.