They stand in a queue with their bags and other belongings waiting for the gates to open at 5pm. Their faces and laughter show that they truly missed attending the Drop-in. Likewise, the volunteers are looking forward to seeing them again. After long months of waiting, while building work has been going on at church, the Drop in Centre resumed in August.
Can I take a shower? Are there any clothes to be given?
These are usual questions that can be heard as they enter the gates. Many have misconceptions of these disadvantaged people, who are either homeless or in unstable housing situations. They are feared by many and some even view them as criminals, the stigma of being so called ‘street people.’ But spending time with them can indeed warm our hearts as they share their unique life stories. Like any other people, they feel overwhelming joy to be given food to eat, to talk to someone and to share their life stories.
The Drop-in Centre opens from 5-8pm every Thursday evening and is attended by 50-80 friends from the street coming from many places around Manila. Some of them travel pushing their cart many kilometres. Even though they are tired they look forward to attending. They are served a plate of food, they can take a shower and wash their clothes, a volunteer doctor is there to offer medical advice and some free medicines.
Their enthusiastic smiles can be seen as they spend time with friends. Some of them see the Drop-in Centre as their home for a while– they feel at ease to confide and talk to the volunteers, sharing jokes and laughing together. But beyond that, the Drop-in Centre becomes an avenue to reach out to them through the faithful preaching of the great truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ every Thursday and also a Bible study on Mondays. Some also attend the Sunday morning service. With the truths they keep hearing, we earnestly pray that they would put their trust in Christ Jesus.
Seeing their smiles as they keep on coming is a great encouragement to me, especially as a new Social Worker handling this work for the Homeless. Despite the challenges dealing with their sometimes difficult attitudes, as I witness their dire situations and become acquainted with their backgrounds, it is not something to be feared. Instead, I am filled with empathy and want to extend patience to them even more. It is my delight to be like a helping friend to them. I know there are difficulties, but I thank God that He is faithful and can be trusted. I truly pray that the banner of the gospel will become the reason behind their smiles and that this would bring glory to God.
Please pray for continued wisdom and that the Lord would grant us grace every time we talk to them.
The Drop-in attendees are very excited about the forthcoming camp this October 17th-19th. Please pray for the planning and preparations for this long awaited event!
– Myra Ibanez