Four flights. A trolley load each of oversize baggage at every airport. Stopped by security at every checkpoint because there’s 7 kilos of batteries in each of our bags. It’s instantly 35 degrees when the rear door opens on the final prop plane. Humidity feels like 100%. But we’re excited because we are blessed to be shooting a documentary in the Philippines with Compassion.
We check into our hotel and finally are rid of the baggage. I walk out to the street to get a feel for the place. It’s bucketing down. So thick and heavy it weighs upon you. All around is dark gloomy skies and the suppressing roar of the rain. And yet! God has called us here and we have some amazing work ahead of us.
To learn more about sponsoring a child from the village ACCTV visited head to acc.tv/compassion.
The rain was one problem, but for Naomi recording sound, her biggest nightmare was roosters. These feral feathered fiends were everywhere attempting to ruin our best shots. When we sat down with Reverend Analisa there was a rooster sitting behind the window staring right at me mockingly. We had to convince some local kids to wrangle it away just to get a few moments of quiet.
This was the first time I had travelled somewhere to actively find poverty. Though it is around the world and bears many forms, you don’t often have an opportunity to discover the humanity trapped within it. It would be an understatement to say it was confronting to hear the ways opportunity in life is crippled by poverty; and that this continues to be the reality for generations. Yet still, I held on to joy. Hearing that children expect nothing more of themselves than the poor life they see in their parents wasn’t overwhelming. While a mother wept that her son should be in school but instead comes home in pain with a few pesos for a day’s work, it didn’t consume me with grief.
I owe this resilience to something that CJ said. I see what the future could be. So as we thank the mother for her time and her story and walk out of the dilapidated shack with a caved-in floor from the last typhoon, I remind myself that these excruciating stories are vital. It is my honour to retell them to an audience who are able to stand beside me. That the systemic mindset of brokenness, destitution, and oppression in this community can be broken.
These thoughts kept me grounded. We could face each day shooting until quickly fading sunlight disappeared; seeing, hearing, smelling a life polar opposite to our comforts in Australia. Whether or not we are able to get back to Samar in the future to witness it, these stories will get better.
God loves these people and they revel in the joy of the Lord. Yes, of course, there is an economic need, but money doesn’t solve a hopeless future. To those in need, and to us as donors, it isn’t about the money. It’s about enabling. And yes, cultivating children with the opportunity to pursue what God wants for them does require money. But the evidence is there. Child sponsorship works.
Looking across the stories in It Takes A Child (including the parts that lie on the cutting room floor) there are recognisable stages between eleven-year-old JB, Raven at fifteen, and our guide CJ. There is a process at work. They’re discovering their God-given talents and have a desire to turn to their families and invest in them. And then to see their desire to improve the community is inspirational. It brings a new perspective towards those trapped by poverty because you can envision a future that as yet they do not have the ability to see. I’ve also found a new perspective in the power of Romans 12:2.
Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
It isn’t about sin. The “world” is not always synonymous with “the way of flesh”, the world is just unable to see circumstance and self-identity the way God sees it. And neither can I unless I renew my mind and let the transformation of my life follow. And every son and daughter of God deserves this opportunity to discover the transformed life God has for them.