They can be as small as twenty or thirty feet across; or they can go on for acres and acres and acres. What is sad is to see just how much life they sustain. Ones might expect to see rats and the like. But what is truly amazing is to see pigs, cows, and even horses browsing through the endless heaps of trash searching for sustenance.
And then, of course, there are the people - at times, hundreds of them. So many, in fact, that entire communities have sprung up in and around dumpsites, consisting of a maze of interconnected shanties and lean-tos which serve as permanent housing for otherwise homeless people.
Considering that a picture is supposedly worth a thousand words, I thought I would post a few here.
But I am speaking about much more than mere stuff. I am not just talking about what you have been given, but the overall circumstances of your life. As citizens of this great country, we have been blessed with freedom and with opportunity. For most of us, even if we do not like our current circumstances, at least we have the possibility of changing them. For that, too, I hope we are all thankful.
The second thing I will say is that, having been so blessed, it strikes me that we are obligated to try and do something to make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate. Granted, you may not be able to go to India, or any other third world country for that matter.
But we all know that there are numerous worthwhile organizations that provide opportunities for us to make life-changing contributions designed to help people in such circumstances. Most all of these are just a web search and a mouse click away on the internet.
And then, of course, there are a few who actually feel led to go to such people themselves, and to devote their own lives to trying to bring change to those of others. We call these people Missionaries. I will tell you that the older I get, the nobler I consider such a calling. This is because I have finally begun to appreciate what all this entails. Few of us will ever know the sacrifices many of them make in order to serve the Lord.
And yet, most all of them would tell you that it is well worth it. For the missionary, in his or her endeavor, attempts to alleviate, not just physical hunger, sickness, and darkness, but also spiritual hunger, sickness, and darkness. And this is commendable above all other pursuits. And my strong suspicion is, in its own unique way, it is every bit as rewarding as it is commendable.
In my last post, I referenced the work of a man named Doug Nichols. I thought today that I would post one more of his stories. I hope it speaks to you as much as it did me.
WITNESSING IN THE MANILA GARBAGE DUMP
It was in the early 1980s that Aries, a Filipino coworker, and I were standing at the top edge of the Manila (Philippines) garbage dump, in those days known as "Smoky Mountain," nearly ten stories high. Below us lay a village which was home to 15,000 people who eked out an existence at the dump.
It was early morning, around 5:45am, and the sun was just coming up. Aries and I had met at the dump to pray. We were asking God to assist us and the other team members in effectively reaching these extremely poor people with the Gospel of salvation in Christ.
As we prayed, an old man approached us. He had begun his day's work, scavenging at the dump. He was gathering aluminum cans to resell, but was too weak to carry many at the same time. He asked if we would guard the cans he had already gathered while he looked for more, and we gladly said yes. I guess it is okay to guard cans and pray at the same time. We continued to pray.
The old man came and went with his tin cans as Aries and I discussed and prayed about evangelism and church planting among the poor. After our prayer time, the old man approached with another load of cans. Since it was now daylight, I could see that he was really quite elderly. He was not wearing a shirt, had wrinkled skin, and was very skinny.
It is respectable in the Philippines to ask older people their age. I greeted the man, commented on the fact that he was up so early to work, and politely asked his age.
With a big smile, he answered, "Oh, it's wonderful that you asked. Today is my birthday! I am 78 years old today!"
Aries and I gave our congratulations and then broke out singing "Happy Birthday!" As we finished, we shook his hand and gave him a hug. He was so excited and thanked us very much for being so kind to him and singing for him on his birthday.
We then asked him if he was prepared to go to heaven. He did not know what we meant. We proceeded to share the Good News of salvation in Christ. After some time, this early morning can-gathering old man, this garbage dump resident, turned from his sins and in joy trusted Jesus Christ as Savior!
What a place to receive Christ— on the top of the Manila garbage dump.
The old man then invited us to his little shack to meet his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. During the next several weeks several in his family also trusted the Lord Jesus Christ.
I guess you could call this event "From the Dump to Glory"! All this came about as the result of a simple prayer meeting on top of a dump and in the process guarding a few dirty cans for an old man.
Anybody could have done the same.*
And again I will simply say, “Amen!” Thank you, Doug, for hearing the missionary call. Thank you for doing Kingdom work. And thank you to all others who hear and respond to that same missionary call. For, as the Apostle Paul says in his New Testament letter to the Romans (10:14-15):
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”