Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dear Filipino Church

I'm home. Have been for 2-weeks, actually! And I'll apologize now for the lack of posts from our trip! But I'm here now with this reflection & some photos...

Dear Filipino Church -

With your sweltering hot chapels and their futile electric fans hoping to provide some reprieve, and your benches or floors or plastic chairs jam-packed with vibrant souls.

Worshipping with you was the highlight of my trip. 

Thank you.

You kept thanking us when we visited. For partnering with you through Compassion International to release children in your community from poverty in Jesus' name.

But thank you.

Because it's just grace that God lets us partner in your work of freeing children from poverty.

And truth is, through this partnership - you've helped free us from our own poverty. 

I know it might be hard to understand - this world is just terribly, horribly hard to understand sometimes - but in our First World, we are impoverished in terrible ways.

What makes it worse is that this First World poverty is masked behind "good" things - wealth, comfort, luxury, success.

You see -  that joy, that authenticity, that hope that you worship with is something that is few and far between here in the First World. You sing like you actually mean the words on your lips. 

It's not that we don't. We try. We really do. We earnestly try to seek God and mean what we say and we have our moments but I think it's because we don't really know what it all really means and so the result is a very somber, sad, what-can-God-do-for-me worship. We have a cushy faith; we're comfortably secure in our wealth and blinded by our options and sometimes God is just one of those options. And I'm so guilty of this far too often.

So your radical joy, your earnest authenticity, your absolute, world-shaking hope - that was the most beautiful thing to me.  

In you, I saw an absolute dependency on God and one another as the Body of Christ, a life-giving, what-can-God-do-through-me culture, a joyful, hopeful worship.

Is everything good in your life? Absolutely not. Far, far, far from.

But He is good and that is enough for you.

In the face of heart-breaking brokenness, your answer always and simply is Jesus.

The beauty of that is what I thank you for.

It's saved me from a poverty so deeply rooted in the First World culture, that escape is slim and falling back into it is so. very. terrifyingly. easy.

So dear Filipino Church, you are beautiful.

You were a taste of heaven on earth and my response to all your Thank-Yous is Thank YOU.

And I wish my letter could end there. Yet there's a whole other side to you that I haven't addressed yet, Filipino Church.

Dear Filipino Church -

With your suffocating air conditioners aiming to recreate the Canadian winter and your thousands of cushy seats or pews.

Worshipping with you was one of the hardest things I had to do throughout my 3 weeks in the Philippines.

The last thing I needed after worshipping with your country's poorest churches was to run into you. Yet I'm oddly glad I did.

As heart-wrenching as it was, every girl needs a hard look in the mirror sometimes.

And as I sang with you with tears threatening their way down my cheeks at the injustice of this all, my heart broke for you and it broke for me and it broke for the whole First World Church, and Filipino Church, tell me - why are we so easily satisfied?

Why do you and I settle for flashy lights and checklist faith when joy - heaven on earth - is found just outside our doors amongst the poor?

Tell me why we're ok with this cruise control faith. Tell me why we spend millions of dollars on studies and buildings and excursions and workshops and all of it in attempt to get closer to God when He said it right there in Isaiah 58, to the Israelites -

Yes. You seem eager to find Me but here is where you'll find me: Amongst the hungry. The down-and-out. The poor. The weary.

If you have the choice between glitz and show for God or simply spending yourself on behalf of the hungry - choose the latter

And yet I understand, Filipino Church. I do. I get it.

It's easier. Checklist faith is far easier. Sunday service - check. Morning devo - check. Midweek Bible Study - check. Bedtime prayers - check. Tithe - check. Repeat.

When you haven't seen the other side of yourself, Filipino Church, you might be tempted to believe the enemy's lie that this. is. all.

And I'm here to tell you that this is not all. I've been to the other side, and I'm running back to proclaim it -

There's more! There is. I know you can't see it yet but just trust me - no, trust Him when He says that if you just let go of what you're so desperately holding on to from your First World life He will place something even greater in that unclenched, empty hand of yours.

I dare you to do this. It will be bold. It will be scary and terrifying and somedays you won't want this. It will require a lot of faith. But it will be worth it.

Because you know what, Filipino Church North American Church First World Church?

Let's be done with settling for a cruise control faith. Let's be done with being ok with a flashy lights, checklist faith.

And let's take this bold, Isaiah 58 style faith head-on.

Dear Fellow First World Christian via A Mom on a Mission [My Mama! :)]
A Letter to the North American Chruch: Because It Is Time via A Holy Experience


  1. I just got back from Mexico yesterday. And literally I was just watching a beautiful video of the people I was worshiping alongside on Friday. The joy radiates from their smiles and they have such energy. They are singing to a very real God....and it is a beautiful thing. May God fill our hearts with an understanding of His grace, joy, and provision!

    Wonderful post :) It touched my heart tonight.

    1. Thanks, Lizzie! I'm just getting back to the blog world... can't wait to catch up and read about your trip. :)

  2. Alyssa, I think this is my favourite thing on the internet right now. I've been home from India for five months now, and I'm still trying to work out how I feel about it, and this pretty much sums it up.

    I have to say, your blog is one of my favourite things. Thank you for always being the voice of reason and for declaring the truth so beautifully.

    1. Shelley, you don't even know what your words of encouragement mean to me today. I am so thankful to have the gift of being connected to you, sister, even through the vastness of the internet. :) Thank you.

    2. As am I. I'm so grateful I could travel to the Philippines with you. As I read your posts, I'm right there with you!

  3. Oh Alyssa, this resonates. I feel like you looked into my heart and took the words right out of my mouth. This is so beautiful, so challenging. Thank you for your faith and your boldness. I am so thankful to have an encourager in you. The joy Christ has put in you shines so brightly and inspires me each time you post. I thank the Lord for you! You're amazing, don't ever forget that. Love you, sister!

    1. Thank you, Abigail! Right back at you, sister... So encouraged to have met other teens, like yourself, who share the passion for Jesus and for serving the world. :)

  4. You have shared a great information about Filipino Church and Filipino Lawyer. Which are very informative for us.Thanks

  5. I think you hit a nerve with so many of us who have worshiped with our brothers sbf sisters in third world countries. Their passion, love, care and service for Christ is inspiring. And when returning home, it's hard to handle the complacency of the western church. I pray God uses our experiences to help us promote His work around us. Beautifully worded. Thank you!

    1. I'm praying that too, Hannah! Unfortunately, it's often so easy for me to forget my own words. I have to come back to this so. very. often.

      Thanks for all your sweet comments this week. :)


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