Philippines: Your brother's keeper

Gary Fallesen

Philippines: Your brother's keeper

Mission: Philippines 2013 (March Trip Report)

Your brother’s keeper

By Ace Concordia
C4C Philippines coordinator

I remember one time last year when I opened my Facebook page and received a notice that it was my brother Chris’s birthday. I got so busy that I almost missed greeting him. Chris is my only sibling; we both have our own families now and don’t get to see each other often. We grew up loving the same things – from comic books to mountain bikes to hiking. I miss when we could just spend the whole day riding our bikes, talking about anything and everything. Those were days when life was less demanding of our time. Today it takes months before we can catch up with one another, and there are days when things get so hectic that I feel I have to be reminded I have a brother somewhere out there.

The Bible talks about the tragic brotherhood of Cain and Abel. Cain’s jealousy over God’s favor on Abel’s sacrifices consumed him to the point of slaying his brother. It confounds me that a brother could do this. It must have taken so much indifference and a total lack of love for his brother to push Cain to commit such an act. Cain’s focus was so much on himself that he may have reached a point where he forgot that Abel was his brother.

What some of us may have forgotten or maybe not even realized was that when we became Christians we were adopted into a new family. Every believer is now your brother and your sister. We are related because of a spiritual bloodline. This connects each of us to the other, and like true siblings we are also accountable for one another. We are to take care of each other and ensure that we are headed for a better future. We are to be there for one another in times of great need and loss. We are to love and support one another regardless of the circumstances. We are to give food when our brother is hungry, we are to give water when our brother is thirsty, and we are to heal when our brother is wounded and sick. For these are the things that true brothers do.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

C4C Philippines mission team with members of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in front of their house of worship in Dalipey.

As we were going home from our latest mission climb to the village of Dalipey in Kibungan, we met a veteran missionary pastor in Baguio city. He told me that whenever he visits the big prosperous churches in Manila – with air-conditioned sanctuaries, comfortable seats and state of the art equipment – he feels saddened at the comparison to the mountain churches that have wooden walls and chairs, a roof of leaves and sometimes just earth for a floor.

In his heart he wants to say: “The churches in the mountains are your brothers, too, and you are your brother’s keeper.”

When he said this I realized how great a responsibility we have toward those churches in the poorest of conditions in the most remote places that no one visits. Churches in need of food, medicine, clean water, Sunday school materials and Bibles.

We who are blessed with financial and material wealth are blessed for a reason, and that is to help our brothers who have little or nothing.

On our recent mission climb to the village of Dalipey we praised God as we delivered the first batch of Kankanaey Bibles. We also brought school supplies and medicines. We have been doing this for the past five years, going back and forth up the mountain trails, returning every time with much needed supplies and provisions. We return because we love the Kankanaey people, and we know about what they lack and their needs.

Ace Concordia, left, and Gutch Gutierrez, right, delivering newly reprinted Kankanaey Bibles to a representative of one of the churches in Dalipey.

We cannot bear to have so much and not share with those who have close to nothing. How can a true brother be satisfied with his food when his brother goes hungry? How can you be proud of the dress you are wearing when your brother is naked? How can you be happy when your brother is in sorrow? How can you be a brother when all you think about is yourself?

Just like with Cain, one day the Lord will ask us, “Where is your brother?” Our answer might be, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” The Lord will eventually hold us accountable for our brother, and just like Cain our indifference and feigned ignorance of their cries for help will be the evidence against us.

The Christians who worship our God and Jesus Christ in the mountains, deserts and valleys in the most remote locations of the world are our brothers and sisters. We should not forget them or ignore their plight. We should do everything we can to help them to grow in Christ, and to make Christ known through them.

C4C Philippines will continue to serve in the mountains of Kibungan because the Kankanaey are our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Kankanaey are not just a tribe in the mountains, they are not strangers, they are not different from us. They are our relatives bound to us by the blood of the Savior.

It is not doing a favor to help them; it is a duty that family members have toward each other. We should not forget this responsibility given to us when we became part of the family of God.

As I write this I plan to schedule a visit to my brother Chris. This is long overdue. How about you? Who among your brothers in the world are you planning to visit or help? Who among the many churches in need do you want to be a blessing to? Who among your brothers or sisters in need of food, water, medicine, love and hope are you looking forward to aiding? Maybe, just like me, reaching out to your brothers and sisters is long overdue.

You are your brother’s keeper.


The Word

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’” – Matthew 12:46-50 (NIV)


 

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