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Injured, Lost and Found Sheep

  • April 4, 2016 12:39 AM EDT

    IN 2008 I was at best a luke warm Christian. My idea of God was to take him down off the shelf when I needed him to later ignore God and everything else. I was baptized at the age of 12 but my shallow relationship with God was just based on my needs..  I had been self employed since 1979 and two raised children later my wife and I decided to go our separate ways. I decided to give up my self employment that fall in 08 and decided that before I went back to work for someone else I would take a trip to the Philippines. I was nursing a chip on my shoulder reflecting that life had shorted me and I was in a pretty deep funk of poor me attitude. I thought I need a change of scenery that has to be the answer. After arriving in Philippines it didn't take me very long to figure out that I have had a good life. Full of good food, nice house, cars you know all of the American ways with gadgets the land of milk and honey.  I was so humbled by what I saw that I began to examine my life on a deeper level. I remember one day going into MacDonald's and after sitting down before my first bite I looked up and their in the window were the street kids about to watch me eat. I couldn't do it. Their eyes were hungry and it hurt me to think I was there eating while their mouths watered with hunger. Long and short is I went and bought 2 large fries and went outside before I could finish my meal. I went back there after that and I ordered meals for the kids before I was able to eat. There were other humbling things that happened during my 4 month stay. I am a chocolate addict and one day I couldn't take it any more and snagged a large Hersheys bar. I decided to go sit at central square and watch the chaotic traffic. I had just sat down and could see two boys approaching me. The closer they got I knew they were going to beg but before they could ask I pointed sit here. As I broke the bar into pieces and handed it to them the first boy said Thank You Sir for each and every piece. They sure looked like brothers as they shared each piece..They were so dirty with sores all over their bodies that it hurt to look at them in that state. These types of things repeatedly kept hitting me like a lead weight. As if to say so you think you have it bad watch and see this.

    I began attending a Baptist Church there and one evening a a man named Edgar asked me if I would like to go on a little sight seeing trip the next day. I said sure where are we going? He said their is a mountain called Mambukal with 7 water falls a very pretty place. Edgar picked me up the next day and so we took off and after driving up for some minutes arrived at the top of the mountain which was flat. As we drove in the main gate Edgar says I have a guide to take you on a hike. As we got out of the car I saw a young boy coming at us and the closer he got to us the worse it got. I asked Edgar is this my guide he said no, one of the local boys I suspect.  I looked at the boy he was in good shape not mal nourished but he had very hiddeous open cleft pallet. Again I thought for a moment so you think you have had it bad look at this. It was pretty bad and for a reason at the time beyond explanation I decided to take a picture of him. As I sized up the shot I am thinking why in the world would you take his picture. You won't print it or keep it. Never the less I took the picture at about 2 feet away.. So I took off on my hike and it was very nice as my 60 year old guide and I moved from falls to falls. Upon getting back Edgar and the boy were seating eating treats. The boy never did beg but both Edgar and I gave him some money as we rose to leave. He motioned us out of the gate as I thought what a way to go through life. I got back to my hotel very tired and went to sleep thinking about my day and what I had saw.  The next morning I woke up at 4:30 AM and in the Philippines it is light 6 to 6 no matter what month. My first thought was about the boy and with out really thinking further I grabbed my laptop as I made my way down to the cafeteria. I got my usual cup of Java and again not really giving it to much thought I typed Cleft Pallet Philippines into the google browser.. The very first entry was from Operation Smiles and I began to read and examine what this charity group does for thousands of kids each year. I looked at the before and after picture of the young children and was amazed at the transformations. It was then that I saw a contact icon and found a contact in Manila a gracious lady by the name of Becky Tan. I decided to email Becky and it was about then that the picture I took yesterday was making perfect sense. So with that I simply said I am here in Bacolod City and here is a picture of a boy I met. I see you go all over the world helping others. Would it be possible to help this young boy.  That was on a Monday and Wednesday I got an email back from Becky she said I have contacted headquarters in Norfolk and they have informed me that the medical transport and doctors are sistering with the Hope Foundation and will be in Silay in a short two weeks. If you can get him in right away to get him screened they will put him on the schedule for surgery.. This is where I was overwhelmed with this is so much bigger than me in fact it is not even me. This is God at work for his reason has decided to use me for his purposes. First seeing the boy, then taking his picture, Then God waking me up @ 4:30 with the thought impulse about a young boy with cleft pallet to then simply google a very important topic. I wrote Becky back I will get back to you as soon as I can. We need to find him first as I pondered just how to accomplish that.  Praying for me at the time was so sporadic and never consistant but this day God had my attention. I remember the prayer well. God I am here in the Philippines and you are at work with helping this boy. How do I find him Lord. I can't speak the language. I don't have a car. I don't know where the boy lives. God you know what is happening but I sure don't know where to go or what to do.. Help me find that path Lord. Amen..I had been going for my morning walks for 3 months going the same route on Rizal Street so I took off after my prayer wondering how God would answer me. I really don't have a good relationship with God why would he want to use someone like me for this I thought. I was 10 minutes into my walk and I looked at this building I been walking by for months. On the side of the building was a banner that said HIS DWELLING Christian Church. At about the same time I saw a smiling man sitting on a stool as children began to arrive. WE both introduced ourselves as there seemed to be about 30 kids all laughing and staring at me. I guess I must have looked like a tall white UFO. Finally I asked Franco Why are all these children here. He said they come here every day to escape the drug district two blocks away and my wife Beth and I minister to them at this church. I said that is so interesting, about 20 minutes ago I had a conversation with God as there is a cleft pallet boy up on Mambukal that is eligible for surgery and I only have two weeks to find him.. I asked God to help me find the boy and now I am here talking to you. He smiled fondly at the thought and said confidently. "Sir you have come to the right place."" I have a good friend Pastor Robert who is in a church up on Mambukal I will text him now." While he is texting I am thinking God this is just so unreal this discovery and a man of God helping to find your boy. God I am all eyes and ears I pondered. He received a text back that Pastor Robert would be at this church on Sunday and Franco said if you come back I will introduce you both.  I left relieved but  still the hour glass was running and could we find him in time. I continued to pray God you are at work guide me direct me with your plan..  Sunday service finally came and after service I sat down next to Pastor Robert and gave him the picture of the boy expressing that finding him is time sensitive. We exchanged cell phone numbers and parted with a prayer for God's will.  As I left the church I thought this is the closest I been to God in years and it is not even for me. Wedneday I got a text back that they have found HenryRebuca and Pastor along with a nurse went in to sell the parents on the idea of surgery. So Henry got screened and went on to have his surgery.  Afterwards I was due to go home soon but I just had to see the results before I left. I let Pastor know I was coming and returned two weeks later and upon arriving Henry looked so good. As I walked up Henry's mother couldn't speak English but it was the warmth in her eyes that told the whole story. Henry put his hand into mine and intertwined his fingers into my fingers.. It was a joyful, heartfelt moment I will never forget.. God knew what Henry and I needed. For Henry he had quit school two years earlier due to the ridicule of his face. With me God knew I was distant, selfish and for lack of other words LOST.  So God took both Henry and I into his plan and changed us both..  It did change my life forever and now I walk daily with the Lord.. I have thanked God many times for rescuing me as years ago he started his work in me. I have promised to follow God the rest of my life. 

    This post was edited by Marty Anecita Rowe at April 4, 2016 12:56 AM EDT
    • 2 posts
    April 7, 2016 12:47 AM EDT

    Thank you for this testimony.  It is heartwarming to know our God is still in the fix-it business!

    • 23 posts
    April 27, 2016 2:23 AM EDT
    Thank you for sharing your story. I was very touching and inspiring to know we have an awesome God.
  • May 10, 2016 2:24 PM EDT

    Beautiful testimony.  I am in a difficult place now but after reading your words, they inspired me to pray differently and wait for the Lord's direction.  Thank you so much

  • July 24, 2016 5:37 PM EDT

    what an awesome testimony. thank you for sharing your story and pictures . to see that beautiful smile on that boys face is priceless. i'm so glad you listened to God and helped this boy and found yourself too. 

    • 6 posts
    November 18, 2016 11:17 AM EST
    Awesome.....God bless you!