Quicksand and Fruit Cocktail
Serving the poor with Jesus is like half-drowning on quick sand while eating fruit cocktail.
One year and seven months had already passed since in our church planting located in Las Pinas garbage dumpsite. A drunk elderly man in his 60s went berserk on me while taking pictures with kids living under the bridge, kids I taught how to read and write.
At the top of his voice and in front of many people he was cursing me, being a pervert charging that someday I would sell the pictures to foreigners thru internet and make a profit out it. When done with his monologue, he slammed his bamboo door and threw a basin of stench water thru his dirty kitchen. It barely missed me. And again he shouted, “Even before you came all the people under the bridge could eat three meals a day, so what are you doing here?”
My blood pleasure went up. The half-man, half-bull inside of me was ready to demolish his shack and kick his butt out. But I realized that I was a servant of God among the poor and believed I was called by God. Silence overpowered me. I just came to my senses when Aling Zebaida somehow comforted me with an apologetic voice, “Pastor, don’t bother him; he is really like that every time he is drunk. He was also alone and lonely in his life.”
I am no stranger to being drunk in my past life, but being “alone and lonely” softened my heart. I shared the drama with my fellow team members and to my surprise, they too had similar experience. Going home and passing the garbage dumpsite, I told God about the situation and my feelings. “God I would like to believe that I was called by You to serve the oppressed, but now I am oppressed by an oppressed man whom I am going to serve. Will you help me out of this quicksand in which half of me is drowning? You know I had this burden to be working with the urban poor even though sometimes there is no guaranteed support since I am new in this mission field.”
The following week I was there again hoping not to meet him but there he was, talking with someone and I heard them talking about funerals. He was sober then.
So I decided to approach him and as I moved closer to him I could hear him talk in my dialect, Ilonggo. This gave me courage to talk to him. With hesitation, I greeted him, asked him what province he came from—Negros, my home province, too! We talked in our dialect for almost an hour and discovered that his older brother was once my uncle’s associate in business. The atmosphere changed into something like a long-lost family reunited. Before we separated he offered for me to stay in his shack in case it would be too late to for me to go home.
Last month I came to visit him, bringing pasalubong (delicacies) from the province where I saw my sick mother. He was thankful then as I told him about the situation of his brother and appreciated me for the effort of contacting him. He started to ask questions about what I do as a missionary and also planned to attend the worship soon.
As I rode a bus back home from Las Pinas to Quezon City I whispered, “God, how amazing you are.” The peace that transpired between me and the elder man was His doing and in his time. And only He could make such happen.
As the bus passed the bridge where the elderly man lived, I cried again to God, thanking Him that indeed, His grace comes to me like a treat, my favorite fruit cocktail dessert, while I was half-drowning in quick sand.
By Loowee Bo-ot