“Let the little children come to me for the reign of God belongs to them.” ~ Luke 18:16
You bring the reign of God just a bit closer for children in the missions.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I know you will be looking prayerfully into your heart and giving thanks to God, who is the source of all good and of every blessing.
I pray that as you count your own blessings, you will also consider offering a gift of thanksgiving to bring hope to children who have far fewer blessings to count. Their childhoods have been plagued with poverty and despair unparalleled in this world of ours. Father Bernardo Moya, OFM and I saw this firsthand during our visit to Saint Joseph the Protector Church in Quezon City, Philippines. The parish is located deep within the vast slums of the city. When we arrived there, it was hard to find a building that looked like a parish church because it was surrounded by shacks built from pieces of wood the residents found along the roads.
The shacks had no plumbing and, for the lucky few, a wire running from a street pole to the inside of the shack was the only source of electricity. Most of the “homes” were one room that served as a sleeping area and a place to stay out of the rain. The streets through the slums were about the width of a bus and were filled with huge potholes. I am not sure if I was more afraid of hitting the potholes or the chickens and goats along the way. Our driver had to brake often to avoid hitting a child playing in the street. We greeted Father Percival Tayem, OFM, the parish priest, who began a program to feed street children within the parish boundaries. He introduced us to a six-year-old boy named Kamil.
Kamil lives in a shack down a side alley in the parish with his father and mother. His father works when he can, mostly helping people carry their packages home for the tips they offer him. Kamil looked malnourished like too many other children growing up on the streets in Quezon City. The family struggled every day to get enough food to eat. Fr. Percy told us that he met with the parents and invited Kamil to come to the church for meals with the other children.
Several years ago, Fr. Percy recruited volunteers from his parish and begged and scrounged up as much food as he could to help feed the hungry children. They started feeding street kids at the parish. There are so many children in need that they were soon overwhelmed by feeding one hundred kids every day! Fr. Bernardo and I visited Santo Rosario Chapel, one of the many chapels where Fr. Percy provides Mass and the sacraments to the poor living in the slums. We were amazed to see over one hundred children from three to twelve years old sitting down for perhaps their first meal that day or, even more sadly, their first meal that week.
Little children know how to break anyone’s heart, and mine did break when several little ones, who had little to eat except this meal, offered me food from their plates. At the end of the meal, they yanked on my heart again when I noticed that they were placing a portion of their meals into plastic bags or little containers. Several told me that they were taking this food home to share with a brother, a sister or their mother. I tried to hide my tears from them but was not very successful.
I am writing today to ask you to share some of the blessings in your life to help Fr. Percy feed these children living on the streets. It only costs $1.00 to provide a meal for a child! Each meal consists of a banana, some rice, fish or chicken, vegetables and a beverage.
It costs $28,000 to feed all these children for one year. Every $100 you share will feed one hundred children for a day! And $25 will feed 25 children a nutritious meal that they may share with a family member. You have been so generous and kind in bringing hope to these children through your support. I saw this hope in the beautiful smiles of the children that day. I ask you today to once again be generous so that we might build a brighter future for some of poorest children in our world.
What better way to truly give thanks to God for all the rich blessings of our lives and families than to share those blessings with some of the poorest of the poor? Your gift today will help Fr. Percy feed street children in Quezon City. Please give generously from your grateful heart. Please renew your faith-inspired support of the poor in the missions. I thank you on their behalf and assure you of our prayers and lasting gratitude.
May our Lord reward you for drawing children nearer the hope, the peace and the love of God’s own reign. Happy Thanksgiving!
In God’s love for his children,
Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM
P.S. Together with Franciscan Missions, you can help break the vicious cycles of poverty, hunger and despair in the missions. Will you be God’s hands, heart and voice to these poor children? Please give generously. The reign of God is in your hands!