Oaks of Righteousness

Oaks of Righteousness

Steve Otradovec – March 9, 2018

Developing a Sense of Community in Metro Manila

Isaiah 61:3b They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

Upon arriving at Block 38, we found ourselves twisting our way along the narrow, maze-like cinderblock corridors. Clothing hung over our heads, competing for glimmers of sunlight with a few potted plants along the alleyways as we followed our guides and local partners through the densely populated slum. Finally, we arrived at our destination, the home of Grandma Dolores, an unassuming, but lively widow. Dolores has lived in Block 38 of Metro Manila for nearly 30 years, raising five children and multiple grandchildren. While she has seen some positive changes over years, such as the introduction of city water and electricity, she has also experienced terrifying disasters like a recent fire, flooding, crime and drug trafficking. She, like so many here, also lacks land rights for the ground upon which she has lived all this time. Her family and her 3000 neighbors could be forcibly evicted at any time by the government or land-owners. Still, in the midst of these conditions, Dolores enthusiastically invited our entire team into her modest home, which is essentially nothing more than a single 8×10 room with a tiny corner nook for cooking.

Ever since our arrival in the area, Dolores has become an integral part of our new community development committee in Block 38. She and nine others, once trained, will carry the mantle of implementing the next steps of the work within their own community. Already, Dolores enthusiastically shares her newfound hope of improvement and unity with her neighbors, multiplying the work of our training team. Dolores understands that change cannot come from her efforts alone, she must also empower others. When asked what is the most meaningful concept she’s learned so far, Dolores grinned widely and responded, “Unity, love and helping each other… I can even share the Word of God!”

As outsiders, it’s been a challenge to picture what transformation will look like in the concrete confines of Block 38. The roots of our American culture make this community seemingly hopeless, but Dolores has hope for Block 38, and community transformation is already taking place in hearts of others. United in love and mission, these “oaks of righteousness” will bear fruit as they are tended and empowered by the Holy Spirit and our caring WPS partners. Praise God for this amazing work and pray for Dolores, her family, the other brave community members embarking on a journey to radically alter their little corner of Metro Manila.