As we welcome in 2021, our GS team of staff and volunteers is praying for the world to open up again. While we wait, we invite you to explore with us the regions where our global ministry partners work. These places are unique and vibrant, each boasting their own special beauty. And the people? Well, we believe the people are extraordinary. And we think once you get to know them better, you will too. So we invite you to venture out with us virtually as we celebrate the people, places, and ministries God has called us to serve around the world.
ON THE MAP
Just three or so hours away from busy Manila, the town of Castillejos is nestled snugly between the region’s lush mountain jungles and the South China Sea. Cheerful and unpretentious, the 60,000+ people who live in this densely populated area are hard working folk. Colorful jeepneys tote tourists to and from nearby beaches and to local markets filled with tantalizing fruit and cheap souvenirs. The relentless tropical heat is often broken when the heavens burst open and douse this hidden gem with a cooling downpour. The heat soon returns and life goes on.
Not far away, Mt. Pinatubo stands tall over all and has made its presence felt most acutely in this northwestern corner of the Philippines. It was nearly three decades ago that this sleeping giant came roaring to life, angrily spitting fire. The explosion produced high-speed avalanches of hot lava and gas, giant mudflows, and a cloud of volcanic ash hundreds of miles across. The largest volcanic eruption in history to affect a densely populated area, nearly 1,000 indigenous people lost their lives and an estimated 20,000 were displaced into resettlement camps.
These are known as the Aeta, dwelling in remote mountain villages, easily forgotten by in the swirling in the hustle and bustle of Castillejos. While their way of life has been mostly untouched by either the history of colonization or the modern forces of progress relentlessly pushing forward, it was drastically altered by the angry Pinatubo. With soil turned to ash, the fields they had farmed were now infertile, and their subsistence existence in jeopardy. This has kept many in severe poverty and nearly 30 years later still with little to no resources or work. However, one organization is devoted to improving the future for the Aeta.
Since the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, God has inspired Wilson and Cora Ladringan, a godly, dynamic couple, to break the chains of poverty through education and bring the gospel to the Aeta people. They founded To God Be The Glory Ministries which holistically addresses the needs of the indigenous Aeta with education, medical care, vocational training, and spiritual instruction. Today, over 30 graduates of the Ladringan’s school have gone on to become pastors and church planters with over half of them returning to the mountains where many Aeta villages are without the gospel. In addition, To God Be The Glory Christian Academy is a beacon of gospel light, and the only school for the Aeta children and youth living in the dark shadow of Mt. Pinatubo. The school offers free preschool, elementary, and high school education, and vocational training for the Aeta. Boarding the school-aged children from the mountain villages provides them the opportunity to live full time in a Christian environment full of love and godly values. The ministry has not only expanded the Kingdom of God through serving the marginalized Aeta in practical and holistic ways, but it has also positively impacted the region of Castillejos by providing much needed jobs for the community.
Global Sharing is proud to partner with Wilson and Cora and their team at To God Be The Glory Ministries and to spread the word about all that they are doing in Castillejos and beyond for God’s Kingdom. To that end, we've connected them with two churches in the US who now actively participate in their work, and we have partnered with them to see 25 more indigenous churches planted in the unreached mountain villages that dot the surrounding region.
While we will continue to offer them the encouragement of friendship, prayer support, and teams of volunteers, we have found that it is they who encourage us by their love for the Aeta people and their faithful service. As they press on, deeper into the mountain villages, continuing to meet basic needs in creative, holistic ways, we will continue to tell their story, support them how and when we can, and invite you to join us in walking the Kingdom path with them.
For To God Be The Glory Ministries to continue their work in the region in favor with government officials, local leaders and the community that surrounds them.
For protection over the team, ministry staff, students, and pastors for the spiritual battle is raging.
For the teachers who are visiting the children weekly and bringing school to them in the mountain villages.
For the parents the teachers are engaging during their visits, that their hearts would be soft and receptive to the gospel.
For relief from the COVID virus and its hold on the nations.
For the bakery project to vocationally train many Aeta.
For leadership transitions as Wilson and Cora plan retirement.
Thank you for making our partnership with To God Be The Glory Ministries thrive. Thank you for praying for these partners and the beautiful people of Castillejos they serve. Thank you for seeing the challenges and being part of bringing change to this corner of the world. We press on with your help, and we press on because the hope and healing of Jesus is the only change that will last.
To receive our prayer email updates for our partners, click HERE.
To give to To God Be the Glory Ministries through Global Sharing, click HERE.
The beautiful photos shown in this email were taken by Lauren Wells while on a service and ministry trip to Castillejos with Global Sharing in 2019. Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your time and talent and so poignantly capturing for us the heart and soul of the region and the people.