Loving others is half of the gospel at work. But how do you serve people as well as the Christian Church half way across the globe for the sake of Christ?
Delighting Grace chats to Dustin Gent of The Rescue Ministries to know more about the condition of the area where they are ministering and how TRM has been touching lives by the power of the gospel among the Filipino people.
Delighting Grace: Poverty is one of the biggest problem in the Philippines. So how do The Rescue Ministries address this problem and how does the gospel fit in?
Dustin Gent: That is our heart beat. To equip, develop and educate the youth and their families so that we can break these cycles. As discussed earlier; a hurdle that we encountered early on in the ministry was that when we would rescue a child… that a sibling or relative would simply replace their role and another youth would wind up being exploited or taken advantage of. So essentially we were doing more damage/harm than good. BUT, thankfully, we learned from this process. The way we screen our youth/applicants has changed. We work hand in hand with the government (DSWD) and other NGOs in order to determine if a youth is a good fit for our program. I believe that we can remove a child from their environment, provide them an education and still fail them. If we are not raising up Christian leaders within the community, then the corruptness and moral bankruptcy of the culture will continue.
For TRM it is imperative that we realize the ONLY solution is the salvation and sanctification process that can only be found in Christ. That we develop disciples. And the disciples learn how to make disciples until there are generations of disciple-makers. Without Christ. Without giving The HOPE to these people, all of our other efforts will be in vain and without purpose or merit. But, yes, as Christians, if those who were abused and neglected are not shown that they have a greater purpose and meaning… that their life matters… then they will raise and treat their kids the same way. And it simply continues. One of the other elements that we are introducing soon is a mentorship program.
Delighting Grace: Aside from ministering the youth, is TRM in a way empowering the local church in this kind of outreach?
Our hope is that the local Christian church in the Philippines will rise to the challenge of spending time with youth who are currently in difficult circumstances. For instance, we recently rescued a child who has 8 other siblings and both parents are mentally ill. Per the government worker, the parents are unable to provide care for the other 8 siblings and are abusive. Furthermore, the entire family has no means to get food on a daily basis. Our vision would be to have a few mentors assigned to this home who would check in on the youth, help with their studies, give them access to supports in community and expose them to a life without abuse and neglect. I could see the mentoring program changing how social services operates in the Philippines.
Delighting Grace: Please describe for our readers that part of Cebu The Rescue Ministries is currently serving.
Dustin Gent: There are multiple areas in Cebu where we minister and provide outreach to children and their families. There are several provinces (Mandaue, Lapu Lapu, Conscalcion, Liloan) where we have relationships and contacts with the government and other nonprofits. Our vision is to rescue youth who are primarily living in the dumpsites from their environment and put them in a safe Christian environment. In order to break the cycles of abuse and poverty, our commitment is to provide weekly Bible Studies and time of worship so that all of our youth will know who Christ is. We certainly do not require conversion for our youth to stay at the orphanage. We simply give them an opportunity to read and learn the Bible for themselves so they can make an educated decision. We give hope (through Christ) to the hopeless.
I truly believe the cycles of abuse and poverty will never change unless Christ intervenes and becomes the Lord of these people. The poverty and corruption is too great for man to “fix”. It is a God – Sized problem and we are 100% relying on Him to change the hearts and lives of these people. Our other commitment and belief is that unless we provide a specialized training or college education to our youth they may not have the tools necessary to breaking the cycles of abuse and poverty. Therefore, we provide a college education or livelihood training to all of the youth in our care.
Additionally if they have any family members we teach them livelihood skills so that they can get a productive job. One of the last things we want to do is rescue children from the trash/street who was generating income for a family and as a result have the family starve or expose another child to abuse in order to replace the child rescued. It is a difficult process.
Delighting Grace: Why did you choose the Philippines as your mission field?
Dustin Gent: To be honest, I really did not choose the Philippines. In 1998 when I was called as a full time missionary I asked the agency who was sending me what was the greatest need at the time. At the top of the list was a church planter in Cebu, Philippines. I loved to share the gospel and it seemed like the perfect fit. The ironic thing was that I hated rice… it was one of my least favorite foods at the time. The Philippines certainly taught me how to love rice.
Delighting Grace: Please invite our readers to check out you ministry. What do you currently need?
Dustin Gent: If readers would like to become involved they are welcome to go to our website at www.therescueministries.org there they can meet our kids, learn about upcoming mission trips, read our blog about updates and see what our current needs are.
One of the things that stays at the top of our list is the need for sponsors for our youth. Whether they give $5 a month or $200 every penny goes directly to the care of the kids.
Another need is that God has laid on our hearts to build a hospital in the Philippines. We have a Filipino businessman who is paying for the construction of the physical building which is an amazing blessing. However, access to new or used hospital equipment is a challenge in the Philippines. I have a shipping container that I can send supplies into the Philippines. Our need is to collect hospital equipment. From the most expensive items (Xray machines, surgical equipment) to some of the cheapest (thermometer, gauze). People can call my cell phone at 865-607-7621 to arrange how items can be picked up or given an address on where they can deliver these supplies.
We have hundreds of needs, but the last one that I would specifically list is support in starting a pig farm. We have been donated land where we can establish a farm. This farm can hold up to 2,000 pigs. However to hire staff, set up buildings, irrigation, etc. etc. it will cost us up to $55,000. The great thing is that this farm will generate a profit of around $2,000 a month. So in just a few years it will more than pay for itself, plus it will provide jobs to some of the youth’s family, it will provide food for the orphanage and it will provide a sustainable income for the orphanage where we do not have to rely on sponsors as much.
We will have developed a way for local Filipinos to provide care for these children themselves rather than the orphanage being funded by others in another Country. And that is truly the ultimate vision and goal. To develop disciples who make disciples. And provide an education and job skills to Filipinos who can target the cycles of abuse and poverty so they can provide care for their fellow Countrymen. It is a God-sized dream and goal…. And we are confident that God loves the Filipino children who we serve and will reveal Himself to these people in a mighty way.
Delighting Grace: Guys get connected with The Rescue Ministries and Dustin to show how God’s love changed us to lovers of others. It is also a great way to minister to our fellow Filipinos in need and to shape them to what God calls them to be. Thanks Dustin!
Dustin Gent: Thank you for the opportunity to share about our ministry.