It was intricate, wobbly and a long journey. Military outposts were stationed in different locations along the road. No sign of distress. Simply humming the hymn, “I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord, o’er mountain or plain or sea.” I used to sing that hymn way back in Bible School with other students when trusting God for a ministry assignment.
But it was not just about the journey we went through as a Team from Zamboanga City to Sibugay and back in August this year. It was about the journey we were walking on with the women that out weighed the intricate, wobbly and long journey we were making physically. The excitement and longing of those fifteen women to go to the next level of FOH Courses inspired us to keep going, not even thinking about the travel difficulties because He gives grace to His servants!
The training in Ipil, Sibugay was transforming. Nancy Legson shared how FOH has changed her from the time she started in Titus.
“Titus changed my way of dealing with women in pain and the issues they face. I have been more careful in dealing with their issues and keeping it confidential. Today in this course, I was corrected and rebuked on how to journey with women and also those who need counselling. I was used to offering solutions and giving advice. But this course changed my approach. Listening and giving it to the Lord are the best ways to help!”
It was an encouraging training especially as we listened to them during the practice time where they got excited about applying the skills. We heard laughter, saw them cry and help each other process their pain.
After the training in Ipil, Sibugay, the Team went to Zamboanga City for another week of FOH ministry. Zamboanga City is the pearl of the orient and the place where I grew up! We conducted two courses there, Titus and ABC’s 1. In the Titus Course, the group was composed of older, middle aged and younger women. The oldest participant happens to be a relative of my Mom. I call her Auntie Bash. She has been actively involved in the support of the ministry through her leadership in the church. Her presence was significant because of the wisdom she was able to share with the group. Added to that, she was so open to learn new things and listen to others share their stories.
There were two groups that did ABC’s 1. These were the women who longed to keep going with the courses. Finally, after two years of waiting, their prayers were answered similarly to the women in Sibugay. The training went beyond learning information! It was about journeying with them as they go through pain and giving them the opportunity to be heard and validated. Their response to these courses reinforced all the more the need to keep going and going and going. As we listened to them, they knew they were safe. They knew they were loved. They knew they were accepted. No masks. No pretensions. They were able to be vulnerable and honest about what was going on inside their hearts and minds.
The skills learned during this training were valuable. One participant, Joy Balayo shared about her experience:
“The course helped me to be cautious and learn to process a situation on my own before jumping to conclusions or reacting to a situation emotionally. You know when your emotion is high, the intellect is low. I definitely need to trust God and obey.”
Just recently, I rejoiced to hear about the ministry of FOH in one of the churches in Mindanao. A group of women who for the first time attended the Titus course opened their hearts and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Though they have been attending the church for quite some time, there has been no personal relationship with the Lord yet. The first Titus session created the avenue for them to come to the saving knowledge of Christ! This church has made FOH part of their program growth. I am delighted to say that Lea, who has been with FOH for six years now, coordinates the FOH program in that church.