Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Church’s Involvement in Eliminating Sexual Exploitation in the Philippines

Unlike my trip to the Philippines this past winter, our recent trip was not intended to focus on ministering to prostituted women. Instead, we set out to find answers to a few questions which we had posed to several Filipino contacts in hopes of finding some leads to eliminating the problem of sexual exploitation. I’ve referred to some of the responses that we received in previous articles. Although there is still much of the Philippines which we have not visited, we spent two months traveling in Cebu, Luzon and Bantayan Islands. In this and my next article, I’ll share a summary of our visits with many people regarding our concerns and questions.

What’s the institutional church’s involvement in ministering to sex workers on the streets and in the bars?
According to many, including directors of several private ministries focused on these men and women, the institutional “church” seems to have its ears, eyes and hearts closed to these people. In the few instances when their members have attempted to reach out to these precious hearts, their efforts have been met with much resistance from within the institutional church setting. Allowing these people to be a part of their organization has been quite controversial in most instances!

Are there ministries reaching out to the men who are buying sex in the Philippines?
At this point in our research we are not aware of any such ministries!

Is there any preventative ministry being done with the little girls on the streets selling roses and the boys selling cigs/Viagra, etc?
Again, at this point in our research we are not aware of any such ministries!

We'd like to know more about what is happening there with the “house church movement” and where that is happening. Are there any “house churches” living in community that you are aware of?
We visited extensively with 5 regional “house church leaders” and stayed in the homes of three; two in Luzon and one in Cebu. With no intention to be critical, the reality is that, not unlike the US, we found that house to house fellowships are talked and written about more than practiced! Three of the four “leaders” in Luzon not only did not invite us to a fellowship, but never once mentioned that their region even had one! A fellowship in Luzon gathers weekly, but seems to have minimal contact with one another otherwise. The only fellowship that seems to even come close to living out the daily life together described in the New Testament is where we spent most of our time, in Cebu.

It concerns us that in the US and in the Philippines there are people labeled as “leaders” in the “house church movement”, yet most are not living out New Testament fellowship! It is also a concern that there are “leaders” who are attempting to convince pastors and others to come out of the institution, yet are not living examples of what they are calling them out to!

Are there any house to house communities that you are familiar with that are currently reaching out to those in prostitution or to the men who are buying women? What about reaching out to the “at risk” children? If there even interest in doing so?
Considering that there seems to be few “active” house to house fellowships formed, the answer is pretty obvious! However, the fellowship in Cebu seems to be open to the Lord’s leading regarding these issues. In fact, they have already taken in widows and orphans who would otherwise be at risk.

We'd like to visit some of the provinces (rural areas) and get a good feel for what life is like there and how preventive ministry might be accomplished in those places.
We had opportunities to stay in five provinces: Benguet, Cebu, Laguna, Pampanga and Quezon. While there is minimal preventative ministry being done through several NGOs, again we witnessed the institutional church and house to house fellowships doing very little.

Stay tuned for further report and summary in next week’s article


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