The Day of Bravery and Courage!
Today, April 9th, was a holiday in the Philippians. It marks the day of the Baatan death march — the day when the U.S and Philippian troops succumbed to the disease and conditions imposed by the Japanese occupation during WWII.
April 9th marks the day of their bravery even in the midst of defeat.
How fitting that on this day of bravery I met some real life courage –all women (sorry guys) who work and hope and live in conditions that would take most of us under.
By a sewer filled river, in a small, dark 20 foot house stood Anna, who, despite having lost her son two years ago, and having lost many of her small belongings in a flood that left her evicted for three months last fall, Anna is deeply confident that the future is going to be better than the past, and that The Lord is full of blessings and goodness for her and her family. The first thing you see when you enter her home is a prayer place where she begins and ends her day. It’s with courage that she faces each day.
I also met Maria, a woman who said she was 30 though she looked all of 15 years old. She has a roadside store which she opens every morning at 4:00 AM so she can sell to the passersby heading to their jobs. Maria doesn’t close her shop until midnight. Everyday — save Sunday — she is presiding over her very organized and very well stocked store. Maria is so proud of herself. So proud of what’s she achieved. Between what she makes in her store and her husband’s job as a janitor, she is able to even save some money for the future. God is so good to me! she repeated several times.
But perhaps most powerful and convicting of all was the faith and hope displayed by the women of a trust bank. It was only 9:30 this morning and the temperature had already climbed close to 90 degrees. These women – among the world’s “poorest of the poor” opened their meeting with a prayer asking for “humble hearts”. Then one stood up and offered a meditation that closed with this:
“It is my obligation to God to improve my state of life. It is also my obligation to improve state of life for others. To this I ask the Lord for strength.”
Brave and Courageous. Along with humbling and convicting. That’s what April 9th was for me here in the Philippians.