Gabriel's PartyRich Stigall
From Joe Knittig, Live in the Philippines
We’re here with our Filipino partner in Malaybalay at the children’s village. (Hey Comfort family, lots of great pics and video coming your way!)
You’ve heard us talk quite a bit recently about the importance of orphan prevention. The line between the truly orphaned kids with no viable care option (targets for our children’s villages) and the next strata of kids on the brink is razor thin. The ministry to those kids is just as critical as residential orphan care.
Last November, Grace, one of the caretakers here, met a little 10 yr. old boy in town. His name is Gabriel. Grace found Gabriel begging on the streets. He’s 1 of 10 children. His mom recently died. His dad wants to care for his kids and is doing his level best. He makes about $2/day. The village here welcomes children like Gabriel into the school, and a feeding program on the weekends. 250 kids come to the school. More than 500 are fed each Saturday. This keeps hundreds of families, like Gabriel’s, in tact.
Grace told a great story about Gabriel. When she met him just before Christmas last year, he’d never been to school. Kids here in the Philippines celebrate Christmas parties in school. For the hundreds of thousands of kids, like Gabriel, no school / no Christmas. At that moment, the thought hit Grace real hard. She went back to the village, and proposed throwing a Christmas party for Gabriel, and inviting others like him and his family from the community. She wanted that boy to enjoy one Christmas.
They had no food for the party. No gifts. So Grace and some friends hit Facebook from the little island of Mindinao in the south Pacific. Gabriel’s Christmas party went viral and global. Enough resources and help came to throw the party. The help came a little at a time. A local baker brought bread. Grace recalls one tiny church in the U.S. that was able to commit $11. She spoke of that $11 like it was $11 Million, knowing that in God’s economy, it was. They planned on 250 children coming, and, thankfully, received enough help for food and gifts for even more.
On the day of the party, Gabriel came. With his 9 siblings. And then a wave of other children. And another wave. And another. 700 children came to Gabriel’s Christmas party. All at their fill. All received little gift bags – for most, their first Christmas gift ever.
Grace broke down into tears telling about Gabriel, who’s now in school. New life began in Gabriel’s family in south Asia with Grace, that little boy, and Christmas.