After the city tour, Leah and I joined one of the lawyers from our office and headed out to Batangas a province south of Metro Manila to speak at the opening session of a youth retreat. Once we got out of Manila, we made a pit stop for some authentic Filipino cuisine, a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries, and then we started our journey to the province!
It took us about two hours to reach our destination, but the scenery along the way was well worth it. For the first time since I arrived, I saw grass and trees in all directions; we even saw a few mountains in the distance. As we traveled down the highway, I spotted a few cows grazing and acres of sugar cane- two things that make me think of Mississippi.
After the beautiful drive, we arrived at the retreat center, and the pastor and a few other church workers greeted us. The service began with beautiful worship music led by the youth. The IJM lawyer that invited us to accompany him spoke first. He spoke to the group in Tagalog, but the pastor’s wife sat between Leah and I and quietly interpreted everything that was said.
This Filipino lawyer encouraged the youth to realize their potential and the plan that God has for their life. Since our organization focusing on the issue of injustice, he continued to challenge this group of teenagers to realize that God’s people are his plan for confronting the injustice and darkness in the Philippines and the world. He challenged these Filipino teenagers to stay in the Philippines and look for ways to be a light in a dark place.
As he spoke to youth from the same province he came from, I was challenged by his desire to serve among his own people.