Rizal Park. Manila, Philippines. It was the end of my first week in the Philippines, and all of Saturday was dedicated to evangelism! Missionary teams from all over Metro Manila had joined together on that day, along with a large number of youth from local churches, to spread the love of God in the busy city parks and streets of Manila City. Our large group split into twos or threes to go talk to the crowds of tourists, locals, and homeless people who spent their time in the park. I joined with two other young missionaries: one from Australia, and one from right there in the Philippines. We talked to several people throughout the day but the most impactful encounter for me was when I met Mercy and Sunday.
Halfway through the day of evangelism, clouds rolled in and it began to rain. I expected the crowds of people to leave the park due to the weather, but, instead, they gathered under awnings, umbrellas, trees, and rooftop eaves waiting for the rain to pass. Crowds of people with nothing to do except wait for the storm to die down… a perfect opportunity to tell them some Good News! I walked under one of the awnings where peopled were gathered and my eyes caught those of an older Filipino woman who was sitting on a tarp on the ground. Smiling, I approached her and she instantly moved over slightly on her tarp to give me room to sit with her.
We began talking and she shared some of the things that had happened in her life; the events that had brought her to that moment, sitting in Rizal Park. I learned that she used to answer the telephones at a large company and a requirement of that job was that she had to know several languages. She laughed at my surprise as she demonstrated her knowledge of Tagalog, English, Russian, Spanish, French… I mean, I’m still trying to figure out English! We both also had a good laugh over my failed attempts at speaking Tagalog. She called me pretty, and I wanted to return the compliment, so I responded with “aww thank you! Mahal Kita!”. I thought I was saying “you are beautiful” but I definitely told her “I love you” on accident! It was pretty funny.
She told me about her family in America and her desire to visit them someday. Then, she shared about some of the difficult situations in her life: she is homeless, living in that park. During the day she sells toys and other small items to tourists and visitors to the park, and during the night she sleeps with the fear that someone will come and hurt her or steal the money that she made during the day. We talked for around 2 hours about a whole range of subjects and I was able to tell her about how God has changed my life! We talked the freedom that comes when we choose forgiveness, about the difference between religion and a relationship with God, and many other subjects.
Towards the end of our conversation, I felt like I needed to ask her if she had any pain in her body. When she said that her leg hurt and that she couldn’t move it, I got a little nervous. Doubts creeped into my mind: “what if God doesn’t heal her? She is going to think I’m crazy for this…” but I pushed those aside. I remembered that God has all the power and that, through that power, He has given us authority, so I offered to pray for her leg. She was sitting with her back against a concrete pillar and her legs were flat on the floor in front of her. I prayed once, and she said it felt a little better, but I could tell she still couldn’t move it much, so I prayed once more. Her facial expression lit up in shock! The pain was completely gone and she was able to bring her knee all the way to her chest! She was shocked, my mind was blown, and God just knew exactly what he was doing. He was speaking to both Mercy and me through one encounter! She was so excited, and, through God healing her leg, I was able to tell her how much He loves her. About how He set up our meeting in order to remind her that, even when people around her did, God has never left her. After this, she called over a young boy who had been selling food and snacks nearby. His name is Sunday and he is the sole provider of his family. Mercy asked me to pray for him and his business. He had the sweetest heart and we did our best to communicate with one another through bits and pieces of languages that we understood, and with Mercy’s help. It was amazing to connect with these sweet people and such a privilege to talk with them and see God really moving in their hearts as we spoke.
From the rain storm, to the accidental eye contact with Mercy, to the healing of her leg… Holy Spirit was right there, leading every part of the encounter! I was so very blessed to be able to see Mercy and Sunday again 5 weeks later, right before I left for Australia! She was walking through the park, selling toys with a smile on her face. I would have never guessed that a few weeks ago she was sitting on ground, unable to move her leg. God fully healed her! We were so excited to see one another; I got to pray for her and Sunday again, and we took a picture together! God put so much love in my heart for these two amazing people and I truly miss them.
Before I left, I was able to buy some of the items that Sunday and Mercy were selling in order to support their businesses! And my little sister, Grace, really loved hearing the story behind her new toy. The toy that came all the way from an incredible woman in the Philippines who got to experience Gods love!