One of the most interesting churches we visited recently was The Wesleyan Church identified as the Trash Mountain Project. Trash Mountain Project is an organization that partners with churches to reach people around the world that lives near trash and dumps. At first I was taken aback with the church name, but then I understood it a lot better after seeing the church and talking to the pastor. What sacrifice for Pastor Ronnie and his wife Elena Baquiled and their three children as they live by this dump trying to win the people in that area to Christ!
This is one of those places where the JESUS film has had a huge impact. They showed the film in this area, which consists of about 100 homes. If you do the math that would be about 600-700 people in that community. They have been averaging about 40 in their Sunday morning worship and they have had several come to Christ. They dug out a hole and poured concrete that they use for the baptismal right there near the church.
When I say I found two works of grace at the dump, the first example illustrates that people who live out by the trash are coming to know Jesus. The second work of grace relates to sanctification, or holiness. Pastor Amos Anteg, general director of evangelism and church growth for The Wesleyan Church in Philippines, told me that the pastor there, Pastor Ronnie and Eleana and their three kids, served more in a city church and had a church with better facilities. But in the Philippines the general church decides where someone is going to pastor and serve, so the general church asked the Baguiled family to go and serve by the dump.
Pastor Amos said at first they were reluctant to do so because of the sacrifice, but after prayer and contemplation, the Baquileds agreed to do it. You would have to see where they live to understand–they only have a couple small rooms beside the church to live. They are serving there by the dump, serving Christ and those needy people. This epitomizes to me a life of sacrifice and service.
As I left that day, I was thinking not only are people coming to faith in Christ at the Trash Mountain Project. They are being led by a pastor and his wife who are so committed and sanctified to the cause that they would give up a nice church in the city to live at the dump to see people brought to Christ. I departed the Philippines, thanking God for people like Pastor Ronnie and Elena who are so committed that they are serving others at their own loss of material goods.
May God help us to see people baptized. It may not be in a self-made baptismal like this one, but the main point is, are people placing their faith in Jesus and being baptized? As we bounced back down the dirt road after leaving the Trash Project Church, with my eyes filled with tears. God help me and those in our Indiana South District who would be willing to say, “Lord, if you call us, help us to say, ‘Here we are. Send us, even if it is by the trash pile, to minister to the lost.'”
Mark Eckart is district superintendent of Indiana South District.