Aaron and Ema Smith, SP staff in Manila, the Philippines, share about how God uses deep, committed discipleship to transform lives and break cycles of poverty.
Recently, our church celebrated Amor’s college graduation. Amor is a bright young woman whom Ema discipled for years (both pictured above). Ema’s investment in Amor was holistic; she loved Amor beyond the formal Bible study, helping to address her various needs to bring holistic transformation in Amor’s life.
Amor comes from a difficult family situation. When we first met Amor, her family did not have enough money to feed her. She came over regularly and ate most of her meals with us. As a young teen, she was told to get pregnant so that she would become someone else’s problem. At that time, her main struggle in school was not having enough money to pay for the materials for her projects. She would often go to school without lunch money and have to go the whole day without eating. Since we had a relationship with her, we felt it was appropriate to provide her with snacks or even a small amount of cash to buy her school lunch.
"After trusting and persevering, she finally finished. Amor was the first person in her family to graduate from high school."
At fifteen, her grandmother wanted her to be a maid for $50 a month. At that point it was a tempting offer, and she considered dropping out of high school. She came to Ema about it, and Ema encouraged her to trust God and to finish high school. Before she started her sophomore year in college, somebody offered to pay for all of her schooling expenses in exchange for working all of her free hours. She was specifically told she would not be able to go to church. By this time Amor was maturing in her walk with God, so although enticing, she did not take the offer. She chose to be active in church and to trust God. After trusting and persevering, she finally finished. Amor was the first person in her family to graduate from high school.
After graduating high school, Amor met Servant Partners interns and new staff trainees. Grace, a Servant Partners staff, organized a fundraising effort collect money to help Amor and others from our community enroll in college. They ended up collecting enough money to pay for almost all of her college tuition. Amor was also given a four-year scholarship from the government which made up the difference. On April 18, she graduated from college. Even before she officially graduated, she was offered a job from The Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, which has an office near our community. Amor now has a much different future in front of her. The cycle of poverty has been broken.
Amor’s testimony is so powerful. During a girls’ Bible study group, she was sharing some of her struggles with two younger teens. The two younger girls are also experiencing struggles about school. One of the girls was also already thinking of working as a maid for a year so she can send herself to school. They were both encouraged to trust God when they heard Amor’s story. This is how wonderfully God works!
📷: Gemafe Gayondato