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  • Writer's pictureBruce Black

It's all about integration

Elmer Palacio, Christian leader Cebu, Philippines

Elmer Palacio has been leading a church in the second most populated metro area in the Philippines for nearly two decades. Elmer, who speaks several languages and has multiple university degrees in Biblical and Christian leadership confesses, “I have never experienced a time like this.”

The community of Cebu, Philippines has been hard hit by the pandemic, not only with sickness, but also with great poverty. Because of social and business shutdowns, quarantines, and governmental curfews, many people have lost their jobs, and have little or no access to food or schooling for their children. Amazingly, many in the community fished in the evenings to supplement their food supplies for their families. With curfews in place, fishing can no longer be a food source. I am struck with how much we take for granted in our lives.

The Babag church that Elmer leads has for years used their building as a place to help families by providing Christian support and training for parents, as well as schooling for children. The pandemic has halted their efforts. Because of this crisis, the Christians at the Babag church have become creative! Instead of hosting a preschool and parenting classes at the church building, they now go into the community to offer help. While complying with local health guidelines, these amazing Christians go to local families and provide in home tutoring and meals.

This means doing things they have never done before. These urban Christians have now learned to garden! The land around the church building has been used to plant vegetables to share with families. These caring Christians have also bought seeds and chickens to give to local families so that they can raise their own food. These humble Christians have also waited in extremely long lines to purchase rice to give to those who are hungry.

As Elmer shares these creative ways to serve hurting people, he says two things, “I was never trained in my schooling to be a tutor for students or a gardener or farmer. And neither have my fellow Christians here. But this is now what the Lord is calling us to do. But as we help meet the needs of these hungry and out of work families, we must always think about integration! How can we integrate the powerful and loving story of Jesus in all these acts of kindness and help that we are providing? What we are doing is important. But it is about helping people with physical needs, but we also want to share with them Jesus’ truth about their eternal needs and the hope that He offers. Yes, it is all about integration of Jesus’ love and truth in what we are doing.”

The Flow Foundation helps support the efforts of Elmer and the Christians in the Babag, an area near the Cebu airport. Your donations not only help provide these Christians with means to buy seeds, rice, and other food sources, but also to help hurting families find the eternal “bread” of Jesus mercy and grace.


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