When I met 9-year-old Arsenio a week after he’d arrived at the Kaibigan (“Friend”) homeless shelter, he’d been running the streets of Manila, Philippines for three years. He and his two older brothers had run away from home when he was only 6 but they were soon separated. To survive on the streets he begged, washed car windows, slept in parks, and ate whatever he could find. His story was sadly similar to the plot of the movie, Slumdog Millionaire.
As a mom I cannot imagine my 6-year-old alone on the streets! My heart went out to Arsenio, and to his mom.
Eventually Arsenio discovered free meals—Kaibigan’s homeless feeding program. It was a turning point in this young boy’s difficult life. Through the ministry’s help the family is reunited, Arsenio and his siblings are attending school for the first time, his dad accepted Christ and got a construction job, and his mom praises the Lord for answering her prayers.
Arsenio’s story is a dramatic example of the difference Christians make when they become “doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). It took Christian Filipinos willing to DO—to reach out to the dregs of society with food, clothing, shelter and the Gospel.