Small Groups… Filipino Style
On Tuesday night, or last night here, we were welcomed into two home to visit their small groups. The trip to the small groups was an exciting ride in a bike with a sidecar. These are everywhere and truly an exciting ride. The sidecar has no front window so you have to stick your head out the side to see anything. Which is also not recommended as cars are driving by within inches of the side of the bike.
We arrived at two different home. Pastor Danny, Celina, and Tim went to one house while Kelly, Xochy, Ryan G., and myself went to another home. The house that Pastor Danny’s group went to was truly a house that understands the power of small groups. The owner of the home had one of their exterior walls torn down and replaced with a rolling garage door. Yes, you read that correctly, they had a wall torn out in their living area and replaced with with a garage door. Why would someone do this? Because their group is having such a large impact on their community that it has expanded to 80 members and the small room has no possibility of accommodating a group that large. So they roll up the garage door, and the group overflows into the alley. That is a home that understand the power of doing life together.
Out group was lead by Pastor Jerry at one of his neighbors homes. The home is two story but nothing like you would see in the U.S. The downstairs is a 15 ft. x 15ft. room that includes the main living area, kitchen, and a small partitioned area that has toilet. The front windows are open to allow people standing outside to hear the discussion and praise and worship. Pastor Janifer was there leading the music with a guitar. The house was filled with music and singing that could be heard by all of his neighbors. None of the neighbors minded as they were all there as well.
Tonight was different than normal because Pastor Jerry asked each of us to stand up at the front of the room and talk about our experiences in the Philippines. He wanted the group to hear from everyone including Xochy, whom they loving call “Sister Sushi” because they have trouble pronouncing her name. This room is truly a family. Everyone is referred to by one of three titles, “Brother”, “Sister”, or “Pastor”.
Their meetings last about 2 hours, the same as ours. After the meeting we walked through the neighborhood. There was some concern about our safety by Pastor Marlon as this is not a neighborhood like anything you see in the U.S., however, this is a neighborhood that has been greatly impacted by Journey Church Philippines and everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming. It was still heartbreaking as we walked down the small alley streets because the population is so large in this area that outside of the homes there are still people sleeping in the street with no place to go.
We have seen extreme homelessness here first hand. We passed two warehouses that are thought to contain about 1000 families each, just sleeping on the floor and on top of each other. The piles of garbage are so large in front of the warehouses that you can barely see the front of the buildings. Children and adults are walking on top of the garbage piles searching for food or anything they can sell. It breaks your heart to see poverty at this level, especially when you are an arms distance away and there is very little you can do.