Hope for a Philippine Island

Hope for a Philippine Island—Part 2
Hope for a Philippine Island—Part 2

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Hope for a Philippine Island—Part 2

Story by Margot Bass
Photos by Steve Shambeck, taken before COVID-19

This story was first published in Fall 2020, Issue 85 of Calvary Chapel Magazine.

On the poverty-stricken Philippine island of Samar, God has changed hundreds of lives through believers partnering with U-Turn for Christ to share His hope and love. Now 10 island Calvary Chapels and many U.S. churches feed people the Word of God verse by verse. This is Part 2 of a story describing U-Turn’s mission trip to the island of Samar in October 2019.

Challenges in Samar

Although Samar is beautiful, said U-Turn for Christ founder Gerry Brown, it is undeveloped, mostly rural, and “needs help in everything from medical care to housing.” Typhoons are a regular and deadly threat. “Residents have very little. If they have a change of clothes and shoes, they’re considered wealthy. Children beg for school uniforms. Many eat just one meal a day—a bowl of rice and a green leaf or plant from their little gardens,” he noted. In the cities, he added, people are usually paid very low wages compared to the U.S. Life challenges include unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, child neglect and abandonment, and even human trafficking.

Man prays with a man and kids

Greg Segaar, a member of the U-Turn for Christ mission team, prays with children at Calvary Chapel San Julian on Samar Island.

To help ease the poverty, U-Turn brings two 50-pound boxes per mission team member with food, medical supplies, and new Bibles for pastors. U-Turn has also helped several people start small businesses—from motorcycle-sidecar taxis to small stores set up in locals’ homes. The grand prize at a crusade in the city of Borongan was a piglet. “If you have a piglet, you can raise it, breed it, start a pig farm, and change your whole livelihood,” Gerry declared.

Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. PHILIPPIANS 4:12b-13

The Answer

The ultimate answer for everyone, Gerry stressed, is a personal knowledge of Christ through the teaching of God’s Word. The Philippine people are very open to hearing the Gospel or praying to receive Jesus as Lord, especially in one-on-one encounters. “The [traditional church] on the island has given them an understanding that there is a God—they just don’t know Him in a personal way. When we open the Scriptures with them, they’re excited to have that relationship with the God they’ve heard about all their lives,” he expressed.

Women laughing

Hayley McDonald (right) and team members enjoy many laughs.

Poverty can be a hindrance. Gerry continued, “Initially they come for all the wrong reasons. They think that Jesus is not only going to save them from their sin but from their poverty as well. But when the Word of God gets ahold of their hearts, all other things fade away. All that comes to matter is that they’re right with their Creator. They learn to hold fast to the Lord, even in poverty.”

Ron Brown, Gerry’s brother and pastor of Calvary Chapel San Joaquin on Samar island, further elaborated, “It becomes easier to resolve some issues of the Third World with the foundation of the Gospel. Our Christian walk helps us overcome obstacles in our path. As the fellowship matures in love, they love one another and help each other with their different [spiritual] gifts.”

Progress occurs but has been slow, Gerry observed. “We teach men that [however low] the income, they need to work to provide for their families. We teach parents to train up children in the way they should go, so that when they go to Manila, they don’t work at a place that’s immoral or dangerous,” Gerry imparted. “Also, we’ve guaranteed our pastors that their children would not be without finances to go to college if they desired … setting the example to families in the church.” The daughters of Pastor Lemuel Yabor of CC Lalawigan on Samar island are among children from church families returning to their villages as professionals. Mimi is a teacher, and ChiChi is a nurse.

Pastor Gerry talks with man

Gerry Brown (right) encourages local pastors with the Word of God.

In 2013, Maribeth Villamor began attending CC Hernani after her husband’s death. The widow had become the provider for a family of nine—her four children, three siblings, and her ailing father. Then deadly Typhoon Yolanda devastated her village and destroyed her home. The Calvary Chapel churches in Samar and volunteers from CC Tucson, AZ, worked together to rebuild her home—four rooms and a bath. Ron explained, “Although it was a difficult time, the Holy Spirit was working in their lives. Maribeth became a women’s leader at the church and a spiritual leader for her family.” Two of her daughters and a niece, who attended youth functions and Bible studies over the years, were baptized by Pastor Gerry during that October 2019 mission trip. “It meant quite a lot to all of us who know them,” Ron added.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. GALATIANS 6:10

To join a mission trip to the Philippines, contact uturnforchrist.com.

People standing in front of kids

Greg Segaar and a translator share Jesus with local school children.


Praying for man in hospital

Gerry and team members comfort a man in a Philippine hospital.


Gerry in crowd

Gerry (center) returned to the Philippines for mission work after military service.


Woman talks with little girl

Amy Larsen shares with a child.


Man talks with a family

Joshua Walker (left) reaches out to a little girl and her family during an outreach.


All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.