Bible work continues with the Ilaw sa Tahanan Program
The Ilaw sa Tahanan is the Philippine Bible Society’s centerpiece program. Since its launching in December 2002, PBS has provided over 23,000 families with the Bible through this program. Its goal is to reach the 150,000 poor families who are to be awarded with housing facilities by the government.
How it started
The Ilaw sa Tahanan program was a response to a challenge presented by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her first State of the Nation Address on July 23, 2001. The government’s housing agency, the National Housing Authority (NHA), would build a total of 150,000 houses for the poor. While the government saw this program as a means of solving the bulging urban poor population, PBS saw this as an opportunity to realize its vision of “a Bible for every home.” The government would build a house for each of these families, but God’s Word will make it a home.
The target: poor families
The country’s population is 84M, 47% of which are living in 200 urban areas across the country. This number is steadily increasing, brought on by rural poverty which is forcing people to migrate into cities. High population growth rate (2.34% yearly) and rural-to-urban migration has also resulted in the proliferation of squatter colonies. Presently, there are1.4M families living in squatter areas, 52% of them (or 728,000) in Metro Manila.
In some cases, the government must relocate squatters to give way to necessary development projects. A recent example are the 19,000 families living along the railways who will be relocated in order for the Northrail Project to commence. Although they are ensured of permanent dwelling after relocation, they still lack the budget to satisfy their daily basic needs. Acquiring a Bible – an unrealized necessity for their daily spiritual nurture – is the last thing on their minds. Free Bibles for them has become PBS’ concern.
Ilaw sa Tahanan… The Bible
The challenge to reach these families gave birth to the Ilaw sa Tahanan family Bible. This Bible contains the Magandang Balita Biblia along with features specifically addressing the needs of the target audience.
Most of these families come from slum areas where gambling, vice, child abuse, illegal drug-dealing and criminal activities are rampant. Their relocation to new communities promise a new beginning. God’s Word in their new residence will hopefully renew their lives and provide them with a strong foundation to establish godly homes and communities.
Ilaw sa Tahanan is not just a free family Bible. It is also a program involving partnerships between PBS, churches, and government and private agencies. This program has brought together 100 churches, and private (Gawad Kalinga, Habitat) and government (NHA, Philippine Ports Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways) agencies.
Going where the need is greatest
Orderly and meaningful distribution is accomplished through close coordination with partner churches and agencies. Since 2002, PBS has been to 36 relocation sites in Tanay and Rodriguez, Rizal, Batangas, San Jose and Norzagaray, Bulacan, and Pampanga, and depressed communities within Metro Manila.
The ultimate goal of the program is to see lives changed, families strengthened, and communities transformed, which all eventually lead to national transformation. Reports from church partners who conduct follow up are very encouraging. (Read testimonies of changed lives)
The work continues
For 2005-2007, PBS aims to distribute the remaining 75,000 copies from the 150,000 committed to the program. To be able to accomplish this goal, PBS needs P11.25M. Let us pray together that the Lord will provide the needed resources. Also pray that God will provide new partners and contacts and strengthen old ties to effectively address the needs of Ilaw sa Tahanan recipients.
Most importantly, let us pray for the families who received the Bibles, for enlightenment from the Word and willingness to obey.