Ilaw sa Tahanan impacts lives and communities
MANILA, Philippines – Ma. Teresa Buenviaje was once like most of the residents of Kasiglahan Village 1 in Rodriguez, Rizal: she drank, smoked and spent her spare time playing tong-its (a card game with gambling). Today, she is a different person. This was after she received a copy of the Ilaw sa Tahanan Bible. Actively attending Bible studies, Ma. Teresa claims she overcame her unhealthy vices because of the enlightenment she received from God’s Word. She is now encouraging friends to join the Bible studies as God’s Word truly made the change in her life.
Ma. Teresa is just one of three women who gave testimony when PBS revisited Kasiglahan Village 1 on April 12, 2004. Encouraged by the testimonies, PBS Consultant Dr. Ricardo Jumawan said, “If we persevere to follow up the recipients, the three families will become 30… 300, then 3,000! If all the people in Kasiglahan are reading the Bible, the barangay police won’t be needed anymore.”
Kasiglahan Village, where Ma. Teresa and about 7,500 families were relocated by the government, is the biggest relocation site visited by the Philippine Bible Society. Initially, 5,000 family Bibles were given during the Ilaw sa Tahanan distribution in October last year, and 1,415 more received the family Bible when PBS revisited the area in April. Between the distribution dates, it was exciting to note that attendance at Bible studies increased and individuals like Ma. Teresa now enjoy a more meaningful life as a result of studying God’s Word.
Bibles for Ati families
While in Rodriguez, PBS also had the opportunity to visit a small community of 40 Ati families. This group, more commonly known as the indigenous group Negritos, came from Panay Island of Negros Occidental, and has been known as nomadic traders of herbal medicine before they settled in Rizal. These families were evicted from the farm lot they had occupied for 18 years and now establishing their homes in the land provided by the local government in Sitio Maislap.
Distribution of Ilaw sa Tahanan Bible was arranged between PBS and the Kairos Family and Life Apostolic Foundation, Inc., a Catholic group dedicated to the purpose of uplifting the conditions of poor families by addressing their social and spiritual needs.
Baseco, Tondo, Manila
If there is one community in desperate need of change and hope, that is the Baseco Compound located in Tondo, Manila. Baseco featured in the papers when a fire broke out in the early hours of January 12, 2004. The fire, reported to be the biggest in three years, left 12,000 families homeless and damage was estimated at P40M.
As Baseco residents are rebuilding their homes literally from the ashes, PBS and local churches visited to share encouragement from God’s Word through the Ilaw sa Tahanan program. On April 24, PBS and 12 churches ministering to Baseco residents gathered together to give away 3,500 copies of the family Bible.
Ilaw sa Tahanan, in restrospect
When year 2003 ended, the Philippine Bible Society had distributed over 15,000 copies of Ilaw sa Tahanan Bibles to poor families in 23 depressed communities, including five major relocation sites. This was in cooperation with 73 local churches and government agencies.
The most exciting part in this program is seeing families own their Bible for the first time. Some families who cannot afford to buy their own copy claim that the Bible distribution is an answer to their prayers.
“They went after the Bibles like they do with food,” said Pastor Uni Aguja, Pastor of Jesus Christ Lord of the Nation Christian Fellowship in Kasiglahan Village, Rodriguez, Rizal.
Pastor Uni and other ministers/priests now face the challenging task of follow up through home Bible studies. The articles on family issues included in the Ilaw sa Tanahan Bibles proved to be good starting points in studying the Scriptures. There were also reports on increased attendance in worship services following the distribution activities.
This project has not only provided families with the needed Bible to help them establish stronger homes, but has also provided an avenue to strengthen ties between local churches. In Towerville and Northhills, the Bible distribution has encouraged churches to organize themselves into inter-church ministerial fellowships. Work of existing ministerial fellowships are being strengthened as a result of the Bible distribution and follow-up.
Architect Nini Joseph, Manager of the local National Housing Authority in Towerville, Bulacan, reported that two of the churches involved in the Bible distribution purchased additional lots recently to build new church buildings to accommodate growing membership and expanded ministries. Her office also received additional funds for expansion projects in the community.
But the most significant development is that, since the Bible distribution, there have been no reports of violent crimes in their community. Architect Joseph was happy to report: “Towerville is no longer called ‘Terrorville’.”
PBS to give “light” to more homes
For this year, PBS aims to provide 23,000 Bibles in 21 relocation sites. General Secretary Mrs. Nora Lucero said that PBS will strive to reach by 2005 at least 50% of the 150,000 Bibles committed to the program. It may take a while for PBS to reach 100%, but with God’s provision and dedication of partners and supporters, it will be realized.