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

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Dear Friends,

From our Shepherd's Home family to yours, we want to wish you a Merry Christmas!  Jesus birth is such an incredible example for us.  It shows us how we, too, can learn to enter people's lives so very humbly and gently, to enter into friendship and relationship with them, to help them know God, seek healing, and to know purpose, freedom and salvation.

We have been on an interesting journey over the last 3 months. Although we do not currently have full-time residents, we continue to serve as a place of welcome and retreat for many who come for shorter visits.  There are now 20 of us that live at Shepherd's Home and we continue to intentionally work to be an authentic, Christ-centered community for each other that helps each other to grow.  This is a constant work.  Through the work of our Alternative Learning School, we are learning how to love and empower the 17 high-school students enrolled in our program.  Our "Island of Sanity" Community Center was recently completed and is now beginning to serve as a place of welcome and connection for our neighbors.  And, many of us are involved with our Agriculture Team in various projects to help with our sustainability.  We hope you will enjoy reading more about all of these things here in our newsletter, including a special Christmas article by Ruth Ortega about her experience working with one of the ALS students.

We would also like to share in this newsletter about our updated and more affordable Seminar and Retreat Program for Small Groups.  We hope that we can welcome many of you here as part of this program. You can read more about this below.

Again, Merry Christmas!
The Shepherd's Home Family.

Above photo: Our Shepherd's Home Family together with our 17 ALS students.

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Have you any room?
by Ruth Ortega

My birthday is six days before the day when many will celebrate the birth of Jesus. My mother narrated that at the time I was going to be born, her water broke - not while on a donkey (even if it was 1979), but in a taxi going to the hospital. As soon as they reached the ER, she was wheeled to a corner near the delivery room and was sternly warned by a nurse to keep herself from pushing me out until the doctor, who was busy with another patient, arrived. Mom tried her best to hold back until she could no longer help but push even if she was being scolded by the nurse. My dad said, when I came out, I looked like "a suffocated monkey." I cringe with a feeling of death whenever I recall my birth story. It feels like it is surrounded with un-belongingness and worthlessness. Like Jesus, this world had not prepared for my coming. There wasn’t any room for me.  But like Jesus, even if there wasn’t any room in the inn, my being born could not be stopped- not by the unavailability of rooms…or doctors.

Over the years, I have shifted from that lowly vulnerable posture to a more controlled stance - standing behind the door as the innkeeper. As a teacher, I have worked with many young people who are no different than that baby me who was banging on the door of the womb, excited to come out and experience life. Not caring about invading your space and respecting your schedule, they come with their bare and needy hearts, always asking "Have you any room for me?" "Do you love me?" But oftentimes I would find myself answering "We’re full. Try next door."

This year, I learned that God is "being born" at our Alternative Learning School. When Sheralyn came to our learning session for the first time, she did not exhibit almost any inhibitions. And because she is unconventional, people in her community do not like hanging out with her.  There are days when Sheralyn comes to us for refuge. Each time she gets a beating from her drunken father, she runs to us at Shepherd’s Home to stay for the night. "Have you any room for me?" is the dreaded question from a refugee. The first time she came for protection, I was afraid that her father would come at me or my children. So I was tempted to just hand her over to the "stable."

But something did not feel right. As vulnerable and poor as that babe in a manger, Sheralyn demands care from healthy parents. Jesus is constantly inviting me back to the place where there are neither rooms nor doctors. Through a dark and painful passage, I am required to leave the inn to get to the stable where He is being born. In the stable was Sheralyn’s unemployed father, hardworking mother, terrified and oppressed brothers and sisters all asking in chorus, "Have you any room?" We took some legal proceedings to confront the father’s actions while lovingly assisting him in concrete ways that we could. It did not take him a long time to remember that in a harsh world that does not favor the poor, there is Jesus incarnate who is the "poor." There are neighbours who do care.

The youth at the Alternative Learning School is teaching me a lesson at age 39. By leaving the position of one who has the power to rooms at the inn, to a humble seeker of lowly places where God is "being born" - only then could I be an advocate of justice and a friend to those very much in need of belonging, identity, purpose, and connection. I am happy to have been born the way I was.

"Island of Sanity" Community Center Opens

Dinah Ballast, Mercy Togle, and our neighbor, Janet Callejo, are leading our efforts to connect with our neighbors through our "Island of Sanity" Community Center.  This center, which is situated right along the road, will be a place for our neighbors to gather, find a listening ear and loving connection.  A goal of the center is to connect with many of the unemployed women in our neighborhood and help them to think about ways they can support each other to start livelihood projects. Dinah, Mercy and Janet are already reporting many conversations with people who share about gifts and talents that they have, but feel like nobody needs them.  We pray this center will help people to know God's love as they understand that their lives are not without meaning and purpose.

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Developing Agriculture and Livelihood Projects

Many of our staff have a love for agriculture and also a desire to teach others how they can sustain themselves and live healthy lives through agri-business projects. We see a great need for this kind of training among our ALS students, for example. We currently have a number of interesting projects being developed at Shepherd's Home, including organic, free-range eggs, strawberries, aquaponic fish and vegetable farming, and coconut oil production.

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Hosting Retreats and Seminars

It is always our joy to host individuals and groups who come to Shepherd's Home for times of retreat, reflection and for learning.  It seems that almost weekly we have people coming and we thank you for visiting us!  We hope that those of you reading this can visit us as well.  Please learn more about our updated Seminar and Retreat Program in the article below.

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Supporting Shepherd's Home

Your donation to Shepherd's Home would be greatly appreciated at this time and will help us to meet our 2018 budget needs, including support for our staff.  We currently need about US3,000 (about 156,000 pesos).  You can learn how to make a donation, on our Donation Page. Thank you for considering this.

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Seminar and Retreat Program for Small Groups

Shepherd’s Home is pleased to announce our updated and affordable Seminar and Retreat Program for Small Groups

For a "flat-rate" price of P800 per day for groups of 3 to 6 people, P1,000 per day for groups of 7 to 10 people, and P1,200 per day for groups of 11 to 15 people, this program includes:

  • A three or four day seminar, including all materials, facilitated by two Shepherd’s Home staff (see possible seminar topics in the list below).  Groups may also choose to hold their own retreat; however, this does not reduce the cost;
  • Rental of the Shepherd’s Home Guest House which includes 2 bedrooms with bed space for 7 people and additional mattresses for 5 people, sala, dining area, CR with shower, and kitchen with stove, Gasul, cooking supplies, and dishes;
  • Filtered drinking water;
  • Use of additional dormitory rooms, in addition to the guest house rooms, if needed for the size of the group, including use of the men’s and women’s CRs in the dormitory (with showers);
  • Beds and/or mattresses, pillows, and bedding (sheets and pillow cases) for each person.

Groups should organize and cook their own meals and should bring their own food for cooking (Fresh fish and pork are available for purchase at Shepherd’s Home). Groups should also bring their own blankets (if desired) and towels.

A typical 3-day weekend retreat schedule can include five, 3-hour sessions, as follows:

Morning – arrivals
2:00pm – Session 1

9:00am – Session 2
2:00pm – Session 3

9:00am – Session 4
2:00pm – Session 5
Evening – departures

A 4-day schedule that goes deeper into the topic can include two more sessions on a Monday.  Other schedules that meet the need of the group can easily be arranged. Possible seminar topics include:

  • Experiencing a Deeper Spiritual Life
  • Understanding Grace
  • Understanding our Belovedness
  • True Personality versus the False Self
  • The Temptations of Leadership
  • Broken to be Given
  • Christ-likeness
  • Servant Leadership
  • Trauma Informed Care
  • Building Abundant Communities
  • Living in the Kingdom of God
  • Building Servant Institutions

Shepherd's Home also welcomes people for personal retreats, couples retreats and family retreats.  Shepherd's Home will provide pastors, counselors and spiritual directors as needed.

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