Author: Lauren Smith, USA Staff
Eight months ago, on March 11, 2020, Wipe Every Tear staff and all of the women in our care gathered together to worship over Angeles City and declare revival in the sex trade. As we were ready to depart for a night of outreach to the bars, a local Filipino came to us and announced that the President of the Philippines had proclaimed that a coronavirus lockdown would begin in 48 hours in Metro Manila.
Everything changed in an instant.
Within two days, we had to cancel the remainder of our Gathering, ensure that all of the women in our care and staff made it back safely to our safe homes, and had to purchase new outbound flights for our USA staff and Vision Trip team. We ventured to the Philippines in early March knowing that covid-19 might pose a threat to our travel plans, but we had no idea that the world would be turned upside down.
The USA staff and team returned home, quarantining for two weeks. We truly thought that would be the end of it! State by state, lockdowns began like dominos, prolonging our existing quarantine.
Our Philippines family entered into an extremely strict quarantine that lasted for about six months, with lockdown procedures still in place to this day.
In the midst of all of this chaos, disappointment, and isolation, God has done more than we could have imagined during the last eight months. What the enemy meant for evil, God has turned for good!
"We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."- Romans 5:3-5
Over the last eight months, God has:
-Moved in the hearts of 11 of the women in our care to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and be baptized in our safe home during quarantine!
-Connected us with over 1,000 women in Angeles City responding to Wipe Every Tear's opportunity for restoration. We believe that over 300 of these women are seriously interested and qualified to come into our care!
-God brought 13 bargirls to faith in Jesus! These women in Angeles City received our meal outreach and now discipleship, thanks to our partnership with Church So Blessed!
-He opened the door for us to prayerfully and boldly pursue the purchase of a permanent property in the Philippines!
Oh, there is so much more that we rejoice in! Thank you Jesus!!!
All of the praises described above could be expounded upon in such great detail individually, but we've listed them here to give an overarching picture of how miraculously God has been moving in the last eight months. We truly have so much to be grateful for. There is always reason to hope and always something to be rejoicing over.
Even though we do not know when the travel ban within the Philippines will be lifted so that women can come into freedom, and we don't know when USA staff and missionaries can return and be reunited with our Filipino family, we thank the God of Heaven that all of these women are experiencing Him at a greater measure now. Revival has come to the sex trade. Women are experiencing healing, dreams, and visions. This is what we've prayed for for years! In the unknown, we are grateful that God is in it all and above it all. He is so worthy of our gratitude and praise!
Jona was unaware of what was about to happen, but she trusted that everything would be alright since her mother knew the truth behind it all. When she arrived, Jona was in complete shock. She saw almost naked women walking around to earn a living. When Jona met the volunteers with Wipe Every Tear, she was in complete disbelief. She kept wondering, “Who would put girls like us through school? Do these kinds of people still exist? Are there still people in this world who won’t see us as dirty women?”
In June of 2017, Rosalie met the missionaries from Wipe Every Tear. Because of her yearning to go back to school, she wanted to believe their offer of help. But one of her colleagues said, “Don’t believe them. They’re going to take you to a house and sell you.” Yet something was still stirring within her. Rosalie prayed, “God, please give me 500 hundred pesos. I really want to see if Wipe Every Tear is real. If you give me this, I will have money to visit their home.” The following day, God gave her 500 pesos. God heard her prayer and He answered! Rosalie went to work that night knowing that she would leave for Manila in the morning to visit Wipe Every Tear.
But when I close my eyes, I remember the sights and sounds of Manila in July of 2018. I see color and cathedrals and tropical flowers spilling over fences and cracked walls. I hear dogs barking and chickens clucking and moped motors roaring outside my window. I feel the upbeat rhythm of music from dance videos and see women laughing together as they follow along. I hear the voices of women and men lifted together as one, singing and worshiping the God of the oppressed and brokenhearted...
When we started our class, each of the lovely women in our care were in a different level of abilities. Some were already advanced in terms of skills and techniques but haven’t realized that yet. Some were skeptical about joining the class, saying that they don’t have talent or are not good at anything in the arts...
When Wipe Every Tear began a food relief program in March, we couldn’t have anticipated the effect it would have on bargirls and scholars alike. Women from all walks of life were being given new hope and freedom! Ali, a Wipe Every Tear scholar, is one of the many women that has been deeply impacted...