God revealed himself to David in the night sky above his family’s farm. That moment started a journey that would bring a community to Christ and release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

This article is part of a series on the Blessed in Christ Church neighbourhood in Metro Manila, the Philippines. You can also read The Miracle Child: Joy’s Story and Never Forsaken: Vicky’s Story.

Pastor David grew up on beautiful Mindoro, the seventh largest island in the Philippines, just south of Metro Manila. The island is covered in lush jungle, surrounded by clear water and white sand, and divided by Mount Baco at its centre. Indigenous people groups live in parts of Mindoro, still practising traditional farming methods. It is a haven away from busy city life.

And it was on that island, surrounded by the wonders of creation, that David had his first experience of God.

“I grew up on a farm in our town, the farm of my grandfather,” says David.

“And every night, because it's very dark, I look up into the sky and I see the different stars. I have the feeling that there is a creator who made them.”

Blog Image 1

David experienced what is known as general revelation, which Paul described in Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Though the family were not Christians, it was David’s mother Eden who first heard about Jesus in 1965. “One day, we have a small place where a Christian bookstore rented, and they witnessed to my mother. And by that, my mother came to know personally our Lord Jesus Christ.”

When Eden became a Christian, it began to change David’s life, too. “One day, a surprise, she came home bringing a Bible,” he recalls. “And that started my journey to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.” Eden started going to church and David would go along to Sunday School.

“I was surprised that, when I first attended a Sunday School, we studied David and Goliath, and I was so happy that my name is in the Bible,” he says with a smile.

Blog Image 2

As David grew older, he faced the same choice that confronts all Christian children. “So, when I am in high school, when I was 16 years old, I realised that I had not fully surrendered my life to Christ.” And so he did. “I gave my life to Christ, and I said, ‘His will be done.’”

After he finished school, David moved to Manila to continue his study. Before beginning his degree in psychology, he needed to find somewhere to live. “The church we belonged to had a connection to a dormitory here in Manila,” he says. “And it so happened that they had a Bible school. And the deal was you can stay in the dormitory, but you have to study the Bible. So I studied in the university at the same time as studying at that small Bible school.

“And so I keep on growing in my faith, and I said to the Lord, ‘Why am I here in this Bible school? What is your purpose? I do not know. But you have a reason.’”

“One day, I was reading the Bible, the book of Ephesians, and there is a verse there that says, ‘Some are called to become pastors and teachers’ [Eph. 4:11]. And the Lord spoke to me: ‘You will become like that someday.’”

Though he continued his study in psychology, God did indeed have other plans for him. “The Lord called me to ministry,” he says. “And so that started my pastoral ministry, first in Quezon City [part of Metro Manila].” During that time, his mother was working in real estate, and she showed him the land that Blessed in Christ by Grace Church now sits on in a neighbouring city. “The Lord spoke to me again and said, ‘I will give you this land,’” David recalls.

Blog Image 3

From then on, he felt a desire—a “burden”—to start a church in that place, even as he continued pastoring in Quezon City. He soon met Pastor Weely, who is now the chairman of the Compassion child development centre at Blessed in Christ by Grace Church, and they started a house church with around 13 people. Church members would reach out to the local community and take the Word of God to families.

While many responded positively and came to faith, others did not welcome them. Helen, a member of the church and now a teacher at the Compassion child development centre, remembers that time. “We waited for God's provision for our own place. People used to throw rocks at the buildings we rented during praise and worship,” she says.

Still, the church grew rapidly. “That made us decide, okay, they have to have their own [place for] Sunday worship,” says David. It was then that the owner of that piece of land God had promised approached David, and they started talking.

“When he found out that we do not have a building, he said, ‘I’ll donate this land,’” says David. “And so, this [church] was slowly built.”

The church was founded in 1991, and their partnership with Compassion began in 2005. Compassion chooses to partner with churches who are already established in their communities and supporting children and families. As a result of the partnership, Compassion’s resources can help the church to reach more children, as well as help provide training in areas such as child protection, health and wellbeing, and education.

Blog Image 4

Vicky, the Compassion Project Director, remembers what it was like before the partnership. “Before Compassion came, this church was really small. I remember teaching Sunday School under a mango tree.”

Now, the child development centre has 230 children registered. “We are so thankful for the partnership of Compassion for helping us to reach more people for the Lord,” says David. “Now they are the ones coming here instead of us reaching them.”

Compassion’s holistic approach to child development means that the church can support children and families in all areas of their lives. “When their children get sick, sometimes the medicine is not free, so it’s very hard,” David explains. “And then going to school, buying their school materials and uniforms is very hard for them. So the partnership with Compassion helps us to holistically minister, not only spiritually but physically, and also in their studies.”

Jane, a teacher at the child development centre, says the training has been a great help.

“I didn’t know about counselling before, and I didn't know about child protection before. I’ve heard something about it, but I'm not equipped to do it. So it's Compassion who helped us to be trained and aware about it.”

32 years later, Blessed in Christ by Grace Church is a pillar of the local community. When the Compassion centre teachers walk the streets, parents and children always come up to say hello. The main church has also continued to grow, and five satellite churches have been planted.

Blog Image 6

“If everyone is present, we overflow in the street,” says Helen. “The heart of the church for the community is first and foremost Jesus Christ. We continue to share about Jesus in the community. We pray that our whole community will know Jesus and receive Him as Saviour and Lord of their lives.”

Blog Image 5

Today, photos of Compassion assisted children who have graduated from university proudly cover the church office walls. Still, David sees there is more work to be done. “My heart cries for people who are unable to study, and there is still lots of poverty even in this community. So we pray that if we are able to help some of their children to study, then hopefully their condition will be better in the future. And also, when we are teaching children, who we hope someday will establish their own family too, that they would teach their children also what they learn from this church.”

Vicky agrees. “We do this because this is God's will for us. I'm not the project director, I'm a servant of God.”

Blog Image 7

David asks that you pray for his church and community. “My prayer request is for us to be able to communicate clearly the message of God’s love and salvation. Pray for us that, as we partner with Compassion, children will be elevated and be free from poverty.”

You can help support churches like Blessed in Christ by Grace Church and children in poverty by donating to our Where Most Needed fund or by sponsoring a child today.


A church.
Sweating bodies squished into seats,
others overflowing to the street.
Worshipping—while dodging motorbikes
and swatting flies and mosquitoes.
Not like mine.
Families joining in fellowship
with babies cradled in arms.
Singing praises, lifting prayers
and proclaiming Jesus’ name.
Just like mine.

Written and reported by Andrew Barker, Compassion Australia.