World Service Report – Headline News from Philippines

saunders Colonels
Robert and Carol Saunders

Since the outbreak of fighting between government troops and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), THQ has lost contact with the corps officer in New Panay, the corps closest to the fighting. In the past, the corps building has been seized by the MNLF for military purposes. Prayer support is being offered for the safety of Lts. Virgilio and Maila Lapera. Government reports indicate large numbers of hostages have been taken.

In a related matter, Territorial Commander Colonel Robert F. Saunders, announced recently that Mindanao will become a new division in April. This will enable improved monitoring of ministry and pastoral care of the Salvationists so that in matters related to peace and order, a meaningful response can take place. The new divisional headquarters building, currently under construction, is being made possible by Self-Denial funds.

Bethany Children’s Home

In a meeting with the Vice President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who also serves as the Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary, the territorial commander introduced a new plan for the Army to minister to the victims of rape. Convicted rapists receive the death sentence in the Philippines but the victim is in need of rehabilitation. Recently, a rapist was executed for his crime. But the victims of rape are the focus of this new program. They need careful loving and patient care. Girls ages 6-to 11-years will be the target population in this new initiative. Funding sources are currently being explored. Personnel with appropriate skills are needed. The Philippine government has endorsed the concept of this program and seeks its implementation as soon as personnel and finances are in place.

Substance Abuse Program

During the past year, The Salvation Army in the Philippines has applied for and received three tax exemptions from the government to enable tax benefits for donors to the Army. The Supplies and Purchasing Department has been reorganized and licensed by the government to sell to the public “Christian Supplies” with the provision to market hand-crafted items developed through community self-help programs. Christian Supplies is also the new marketing arm of the substance abuse program.

Speaking at the Downtown Rotary Club two weeks ago, the Vice President made the surprise announcement that the government will be working with The Salvation Army in developing a full substance abuse program patterned along the lines of the American Adult Rehabilita-tion Centers programs. The target population will be street people and those sentenced by the courts for drug rehabilitation. In the past 62 years of ministry, a working relationship with the government has not been previously experienced. Philippine Judge Juan Nabong voiced the great need for this initiative and would use the Center as a viable alternative to prison for appropriate cases.

Personnel with expertise to establish such a program are urgently needed. A warehouse, vehicles, thrift stores, together with start-up capital are receiving the urgent attention of the National Advisory Board. In order to receive input to these developments, the National Advisory Board Chairman, Mr. Johnny Aruego, and Attorney Irene D. Jurado will be attending the National Advisory Organizations Conference at Pasadena in April.

Sacrificial Giving Makes A Difference

The Salvation Army ministries in the Philippines continue to be made possible through the sacrificial giving to the Self-Denial Appeal. During the past 20 years, the Philippine Territory has doubled in size and with this current 130 centers of worship and the continued growth curve, the future looks most encouraging. Unfortunately, the economics of Asia make finances exceedingly difficult when one considers that the average worker receives only US $4.95 per day.

During these years of growth, new corps have been opened, buildings built and many won to the Lord. In April, the Army will commence a new and initial work on the Island of Palawan and made possible through Self-Denial giving. Already we have a congregation asking for an officer. Thank you for giving, for sacrificial giving does make a difference.

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