Sunday, June 28, 2009

Story bracelets and sports help the Sonlight team share Christ

It’s 3:15 pm in the Philippines (that’s 4:15 am U.S. Central) and I’m sitting under the pavilion at the high school in Lingayao. Jeff is playing “Shout to the Lord” on the guitar and singing along with Thea, Melanie, and a group of children. Nearby Christy is telling the gospel through multicolored “story bracelets” as Wendy translates.

“This is called a story bracelet. It has no power—it’s just a reminder. Yellow means heaven, where Jesus lives. Do you know heaven? Do you want to go there? The black represents me and you, the sin in our lives, the bad things we do.”

Doug is handing out purple and black tracts with the title “Ang Gasa” (The Gift) and Roger is playing ping-pong with a teenaged Filipino as Christy continues.

“But Jesus died on the cross, for my and your sins, and the red represents the blood. When you accept Christ in your heart, it becomes white, and you are wiped clean.”

Laura, Sarah, Debra, Kate and Tammy are playing volleyball in the grassy field in front of the classroom buildings. The girls on the other side of the net wear green-and-white gingham skirts—part of the universal school uniform of the Philippines.

“Once you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, then green means you grow in learning more about Jesus. You grow by reading your Bible, going to church, sharing with other believers, and sharing the story of Jesus.”

Sharing the story is exactly what the Sonlight team from First Baptist Church of Ft. Payne is doing. A few moments later, the children are now in a frenzy around the table receiving the story bracelets and stickers, as well as writing their names down for a drawing for a basketball prize.
The Filipinos are an eager and open audience, both young and old.

“It’s been an extraordinary trip,” said Melanie as their last day of ministry came to a close. “They’ve been very welcoming.”

The team was welcomed into many different barangays on the island of Mindanao this past week, playing basketball and doing toothbrushing demonstrations at elementary schools (while incorporating the gospel into both). During the school visit, the team talks about how to have not just clean teeth but how Jesus cleans your heart “and you only need to do that once!” Then, during the game halftime, they perform dramas and share their testimony to audiences numbering usually over a hundred.

The team has been welcomed by Filipino believers too. “The Philippine Nehemiah Team members, Jetter, for example, have been so helpful, so encouraging,” said Thea. “They’ve encouraged me in my faith by their day-to-day testimony. They remind me of what the early church must have been like.”

“Wow,” said Tammy, “I’m not ready for it to be over. I’m ready to come back again.”


The basketball teams after the game.

Story bracelets and tracts!

Roger plays table tennis

The team with teachers from the elementary school where they did the toothbrushing presentation.

The girls' volleyball game - Filipina side

Onlookers during the toothbrushing presentation. The eagerness of people in the Philippines to hear the message the team was saying means many people heard the gospel.

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