“My whole life has changed,” says 18-year-old John Michael Montilla, one of thousands of Filipinos benefiting from Cross International’s support of Gawad Kalinga, a ministry that revitalizes old, impoverished slums into new, Christ-centered communities. We help replace shacks made of tin and wood scraps with beautiful, concrete homes; clean up polluted streets; and turn a slum culture rife with gangs and violence into a community defined by fellowship and peace. The renovated neighborhoods also offer everything from free medical care to education to Bible studies—things previously unavailable in the slums.
“This is a group of people with a burning passion and love for God,” John Michael says. “This group has helped me become more faithful to God and thankful for the gifts he has given me.”
He also says he has finally met new, true friends—friends who never let him down and who are there for him in times of need. This is a big change from the gang culture that dominated his old neighborhood.
“My life has meaning now,” says John Michael. “This program strengthens my spiritual life, the career sessions develop my self-confidence, and the tutorial sessions are helping me improve my studies and reach my dreams.”
Stories like John Michael’s—of incredible physical and spiritual transformation—remind me of 2 Corinthians 5:1: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
What joy we as Christians have in this promise—that Christ takes us out of our sin and squalor and changes our lives with his love and light. At Cross, we know that this level of dramatic transformation only occurs when Christ is at the center. That’s why we support projects like Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines, who share our commitment to provide long-lasting, holistic change for the poor.
Praise God that the lives of Filipinos like John Michael are being changed from the inside out!