The following was written in 2006 by Lincoln Brunner during his visit to Hope for the Nations Philippines.
“Gary Bernadas knows he should be dead. Most of his old barkada, or gang, are victims of street shootings. He was in line to join them before he came to faith in Christ six years ago.
At that time, Gary and his barkada were pulling typical street punk stuff—shoplifting convenience stores, drinking beer, and sniffing Rugby glue. Then one day they were walking down a street in Agdao, a rough neighborhood one of the Philippines’ largest cities, when they saw two young women playing guitar and singing in front of a maternity clinic. The boys, most of them in their early teens, stopped to listen. The women—two missionaries who were visiting Canadians Patrick and Inneke Elaschuk, who worked at the clinic—struck up a conversation and invited the boys to a dinner they were hosting.
Free meals in Agdao aren’t easy to come by, so the boys accepted.
After that, Gary’s barkada started to hang out at the clinic regularly, sometimes for the free food, sometimes to meet some of the girls who worked there. As Inneke delivered babies and counseled mothers, Patrick began sharing the gospel with these boys. Gary accepted Christ soon after.
In the end, boundless grace came to the barkata, even though most of them have since been killed unjustly.”Six years later, by the grace of God, Gary is fully alive. He is now in his 3rd year of studies at Davao Doctors College in Nursing, ministering as a youth leader in the International Church in town and following the Lord closely. Gary is a testimony of what Hope for the Nations is all about: chosen and empowered leadership.While in Davao in July, I was encouraged by spending time with Gary. As I walked down the road after saying goodbye, I was overcome by a sense of gratitude for Gary’s life and how it is being used to make a difference. Gary has chosen a career that will allow him to give back to the Philippines, earn an income, and at the same time, be an advocate for the poor—providing a greatly needed perspective in the health care system.“The glory of God is man fully alive,” says St. Irenaeus, a 2nd Century Bishop.Seeing young people from adverse backgrounds like Gary become fully alive is amazing!Share this story with your friends and tell them about how they can help others like Gary become fully alive in the Philippines.
“Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn't God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren't they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?” James 2:5
This post is part of 99 Days of Hope, an HFTN campaign to raise awareness and funds for at-risk families and children in the Philippines.
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