Living together as an authentic, Christ-centered community that welcomes and equips the poor and broken to follow their God-given call in community.
May 2018 Community Linker Newsletter

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Dear Friends,

Greetings from Shepherd's Home!  The last four months have been full as we continued our Spiritual Formation and Discipleship Program with our residents, as we reached out and served in our barangay (neighborhood) of San Miguel - including operating an after-school program for children, and as we hosted a number of retreats and seminars. 

We have been blessed by the lives of new residents who joined our Residential Program since our last newsletter. Ederson San Lorenzo, one of our CSLP graduates, joined us with the desire to grow more in his understanding of servant leadership and building community.  He plans to join a church planting work in Nueva Vizcaya after completing our program in August. Jayson Perante joined us for 2 months before starting his job in Laguna and we saw God use this time significantly in his life, helping him grow in his understanding of God's love for him. Veejay and Erica Guerrero also joined us for two months for a time of reflection and assessing God's direction for them.  They are now considering ministry opportunities in Bicol. And, we are thankful for Paulo Delos Santos, from Cavite, who joined us in April after attending a retreat with his church - GMA Bible Christian Church. Paulo plans to stay with us until the end of the program in August.

These days, in our Residential Program, we are discussing the topic of "call."  Our desire is to help each of our residents think about the special work God is calling them to do.  For some of our residents, this has been a particularly powerful time where God has clearly revealed his call to them. For example, Kaye Viray believes God is calling him now to build a community that will serve those struggling with drug addiction in Occidental Mindoro. As we have grown to know each of our residents, we are blessed by their lives and by their amazing and unique gifts. It is exciting to walk with them as they grow in their understanding of how God can use their areas of brokeness and their gifts to serve and be a blessing to others.

We hope you will enjoy reading more of our latest news through our stories below.

Blessings,
The Shepherd's Home Family.

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Daniel's Story
by Ruth Ortega

In January, I was excited when Shepherd's Home signed a formal agreement with the Philippine Department of Education to be an Alternative Learning System (or "ALS") Center.  This allows us to formally work with out-of-school youth and help them prepare for elementary and high school equivalency exams.  This is actually part of my own personal dream - to help children who do not "fit" in the normal school system, to know that they too, are precious and that they can dream about their vocation and purpose in life.

My hope was that we could soon identify many of the out-of-school youth in our neighborhood and, together with our staff and residents, begin investing in their lives and help them to learn.  However, as it turned out, most of the out-of-school youth that we found were actually working in various locations and currently did not want our assistance.  Instead, we found one boy, Daniel, who is 9 years old and struggling with reading.  So, we invited Daniel to visit Shepherd's Home.  He seemed to be amazed that so many "grown ups" were interested to talk to him.

On the next day, Daniel came back with his brother, Ehron (Daniel and Ehron are in the top-left photo above).  Apparently, Daniel told Ehron that "they treat you nice over there."  On the day after that, more children came - until soon, we were having 10 to 15 children coming every day.  We realized they were not so much coming to learn, but coming to be loved.

As a result, we changed our plans a bit, and we are now operating after-school and weekend programs for children in our neighborhood.  Our desire is to be a place where they can know that they are special, where they can dream and play, and where they can begin to know God's purpose for their life. And, we find that we learn so much from them as well. They bring us so much joy and reveal to us our limitations as adults. They come as they are, having so much faith, modelling freedom to be oneself, living in the here and now. As E. Arnold says, "It is the child who leads us to the gospel" - Matthew 18:3

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Sharing through Retreats and Seminars
by Pong Dolojan

It is our desire to be a place of welcome, where people can come and experience God's love and grace in their lives.  Connected with this, we have had the privilege of hosting a number of groups for seminars and retreats over the last few months, including the Ministry Team of CBCF Church - Baguio City, the Leaders of GBCC Church - Cavite, the Young Professionals of GBCC Church - Cavite, the OMF Mangyan Leadership Team, and students from Evangelical Theological College.

We are thankful for this ministry God has given us, to share our life here at Shepherd's Home with our brothers and sisters.  We appreciated the words of Pastor Rey Almodrones after he attended a retreat recently with the leaders of his church, GBCC - Cavite, on "Introduction to Servant Leadership - Understanding our Belovedness in Christ."  He shared, "Praise God for the life of our Shepherd's Home Family. Our two and a half days stay is very short but one that we will always remember. Great staff who touched our lives with much love, great respect, broken people who ministered to our own brokenness. Nice place and environment, with many trees and plants. Joyful eating not only because of the food but because of the ambiance of a family enjoying every meal together. Truly the Shepherd's Home is the place where we can experience the loving and life changing touch of the Father's hands who loved us no matter who we are. A place where we can be ourselves and feel safe and confident that we will be accepted and not be judged."

Reaching out to our Neighbors

It is our desire to get connected more and more with our neighbors, learn their needs, and find how we can best serve together with them in our barangay.  One way we are doing this is by organizing different kinds of activities and events.  One example is that we held a Valentine's Day celebration at Shepherd's Home and we invited couples that we knew in the neighborhood to join us (see photo at the top of our newsletter).  One of the couples invited were Lolo Istong and Lola Monay, both in their 70s.  During our celebration, we had a game where we made them the "couple of the night."  We were touched when, a few weeks later, Lolo Istong dropped by Shepherd's Home to invite us to their 50th wedding anniversary party.  When we attended, we were among

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about 70 guests.  But, they spent the whole time sitting and talking with just us.  We realized that they sensed we were truly interested in their stories and their lives. We are learning that this is one of the needs in our neighborhood - to show those that are sick or elderly that they are still loved and valuable.

Thankful for our Partners

Shepherd's Home is blessed with four amazing partners - ABCCOP, OMF, Partners in Authentic Community (PAC), and Co-Serve International.  Over the last few months, we had many opportunities to connect with our partners and mutually care for and support one another.  As part of this, we enjoyed the visit of Rick Coulson, a Co-Serve International Board Member, who came to learn more about the work we are doing.  And, last month, Dan and Dinah Ballast represented Shepherd's Home at a PAC retreat held in Washington, USA.  PAC is a group of 6 authentic communities who support one another by learning

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together, keeping each other accountable, and sharing experiences with one another.  And, Dinah actually spent 3 weeks prior to the retreat working as an "intern" at one of the PAC communities - the Collegium Cafe and Center for Sharing.  Dinah's own dream is to someday open a coffee shop cafe as part of the neighborhood outreach of

Shepherd's Home and Dinah was able to learn about how a community-based coffee shop ministry works.  This is a great example of how we grow and are blessed through our partnerships.

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Ton's Accident

In April, our community was really affected when Ton fell out of a truck he was loading. He broke 4 ribs and seriously dislocated his elbow.  Ton and his wife, Ruth, were supposed to attend the PAC retreat in the USA together with Dan and Dinah, but sadly, this stopped them from going.  Together with Ton, we are so thankful for the outpouring of love and support we felt

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during this time - from our neighbors and many friends from around the Philippines and the world. We are happy to report that Ton continues to recover and he is slowly regaining movement and the use of his right arm.  Please continue to pray for him that his arm would fully heal.

Praises and Prayer Needs

We just finished our first full fiscal year at Shepherd's Home and we thank and praise God for providing all of our needs.  We have also now raised the money we need to fully pay for the construction of our initial facilities.  We want to express our deep thanks to each of you who generously supported us this past year.  God has touched us through you.

We ask that you pray with us for God's leading and help in our lives, as we continue to share His love with our residents, our neighbors, our neighborhood children, and those that come to visit us here. We want to walk closely with Him and depend on Him for the work that we do here.

We'd love to hear from you. You can reply to this newsletter to share your thoughts with us.