More Than Can Be Imagined
No matter how prepared or strategic you are when designing a project, whenever you partner with a new community to improve access to a basic human right, like clean water or quality education, it is impossible to imagine the full scope of transformation that can take place.
Back in the early days of World Hope International, we were introduced to an indigenous group of people in the Philippines through one of the leaders of the Wesleyan Church of the Philippines. At a college on that island, the professors became aware of the deep national prejudice against this indigenous group and wanted to reach them with education and hope. The leader contacted me and sent an excellent proposal for partnership, and we decided to respond. The leaders of the college then approached the tribal leaders and, because of the trust from those leaders in the college, they agreed to start a school. They also agreed to have some teachers from outside the community assist in teaching. This school was then started as one of our first Child Sponsorship programs.
At first, the community only allowed boys to attend the school. The teachers carefully worked with the people to remind them of the value of their girls and in a short time, a few girls were able to attend. Miraculously, the elders of the community were pleased to see how the girls were growing and learning. As a result, more girls were able to attend school and, finally, the numbers became even.
Several years after the beginning of the school I was invited to visit the community and meet many of the people and children.
I watched and listened to this artful program. Both boys and girls singing, dressed in their beautiful traditional dress, with joy on their faces and freedom in their movement. A professor from the nearby college accompanied me on this trip. Leaning over to me while the children were singing, he whispered with moist eyes, “I cry every time I see these girls singing and know they are being educated.” Yes, his eyes were very moist. He went on, “You see, before the school, all these girls were committed to marriage when they were born.” My own eyes became moist, too, and well up again even as I write this years later.
Today, there are several schools among these indigenous communities in the Philippines. Hundreds have completed elementary school and high schools have been established. Many young people have gone on to college and graduate school. Some have even come back to the community to teach in the schools or gone on to become social workers, pastors, engineers, agriculture specialists, and the list continues.
When we first began working within the communities, I was surprised to learn that they didn’t own their own land, but that the government-owned it and had simply granted them use – but not ownership of – their remote swath of land. A few years ago, the government noted the increase in farming techniques and care of the land by the communities and they granted this indigenous tribe ownership of the land.
The vision the church leader and this college had for education has become more than ever was imagined at the beginning. Sitting in that program watching the school children perform, I was overwhelmed with their beautiful harmony as they sang. Thinking back on that moment, I am reminded of the text in Ephesians 3:20. Paul states that “God wants to do exceedingly more than we can ask, think or imagine…”
As we end this 25th anniversary year and step into 2022 and move forward into the next generation of World Hope International, the possibilities are endless; more than we can ask, think, or imagine. And so in the Philippines, come Typhoons or pandemics or famines and war, with the support of donors, in partnership with communities and others, we will continue this good work of promoting dignity, and building opportunity and hope. There is so much more than can be imagined – and after 25 years of building hope, we have only scratched the surfaces of dreams, action, and transformation. Personally, I am filled with awe at what has been done around the world to date and with hope for the future moving forward, together.
World Hope International is working in 20+ countries around the world to promote dignity and build opportunity and hope.
To support these efforts, you can make a gift to The Hope Fund, which allows us to respond where and when it matters and continue projects centered on clean water & energy, protection, global health, and social enterprises.