Volume. XXXII, No. 14
Sunday, 01 October 2017

Lessons from the House of Hope Ministry - Cebu, Philippines: Part 1

The House of Hope (HOH) has, by the grace of God, reached a significant milestone. They recently celebrated their twentieth anniversary. Drug addiction has been and still is a big problem in Philippine society. With the installation of a new president in the Philippines and the government’s strict stance on drug addicts there has been a huge influx of suspected drug users surrendering to the police. As of December 2016, the Cebu Province Police Office recorded more than 50,000 drug users surrendering to the authorities. Unlike many drug rehabilitation centers in the Philippines which rely mainly on secular treatment programs, the HOH drug rehabilitation program is anchored on the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The drug addicts spend a year at the HOH. Though there are many cases of relapse to drug addiction during this program, God has been graceful, for there are more who have overcome their addiction through the dedicated ministry at the HOH than have relapsed.

Recently four HOH staff members and one spouse visited Adelaide through the sponsorship of the Edwardstown Baptist Church (EBC) located in the suburb of St Mary’s. We had the privilege of being able to have dinner fellowship with them. There is much we can learn from these men for our edification and encouragement for the Lord’s work. I count these men as my friends and brothers in Christ and honestly greet them with respect and I admire them for what they do in the ministry of their calling.

Dinner with the HOH visitors
The invitation was given for 18:30 hours on Thursday, 6th July 2017. The HOH contingent arrived twenty minutes early. Our six guests were brothers Ginno, Neil, John, Benjun and his wife Lani and Pastor Jay from EBC, who kindly provided transport to and from dinner and the various host family homes.

They are musically very talented. John kindly played some items on the piano while we were awaiting the arrival of Pastor Ki, Elder Gan and Dn Boong. His repertoire consisted mainly of hymns but also some classical music pieces. Without music, he played a Nocturne by Faure. John graduated from the University of Philippines with a degree in orchestral conducting. His main instrument was piano and violin is his minor instrument.

Benjun is also a gifted pianist. After John had completed the hymns and the Nocturne, Benjun eagerly placed his hands on the piano keys to play. He had a great velvety voice. When the Hopefuls arrived, he continued playing and even though dinner was about to be served, he could not bear to part with playing the piano. We had to “tear” him away from his momentary indulgence. I thought in my heart “how nice if one day, someone or some people could contribute to purchase a piano for the HOH.”

Travelling in the Philippines, it is difficult to ignore that they love their pork dishes. Cebu is famous for their roast pork dish known as ‘Lechon’. Travelers from other parts of Philippines, particularly Manila, bring back this Cebuan favourite, as hand luggage. Knowing that their host families would most probably serve Italian food and roast beef, we ventured to create ‘Lechon’ in Adelaide. I hope it passed the taste test. We served rice and they were so eager to eat this familiar staple with the other dishes provided.

Over dinner we had a lively conversation and I learnt a great deal from these men. These are some of the lessons we were blessed with at the fellowship of that memorable evening.

We are all sinful men
The testimony of a HOH worker or resident always starts without any pretense, “I am a sinful man”. There is no sugar coating of this fact that each HOH man will bring openly to the forefront of his being. Meet the people who work at the HOH and you will hear that their past is about stealing from friends, neighbours, family and even from strangers. Some are ex-convicts, abusers of wives and children, violent men who have physically harmed others, drunkards, men addicted to substances, men who were vulgar in the speech and other depraved behaviours.

These are men who will freely admit their degenerate and sinful past. But listening to testimonies of their old very sinful pasts is the sweetest testimony you may hear, spoken by the gentlest of voices because they now come forth from the lips of pastors, church workers, preachers and seminary students. As Benjun sang a few stanzas that night we witnessed the personification of “Amazing Grace – how sweet the sound – that saved a wretch like me”.

Giving testimonies of salvation can be somewhat challenging for some because we are uncomfortable in bringing to the forefront our past misdeeds, our cruel ways and our depraved nature. But the men from HOH tell of their “terrible and sin filled” past almost with glee and excitement as though to show how far the Hand of God has reached out to pick them up, all broken and hurt from the abyss of their hopelessness, to be cradled, loved and healed by the Almighty, the Powerful and the Holy God. For those who are in the deepest place of their misery, this is what we can learn from them.

HOH testimonies are always about their sinfulness and God’s grace. As you fellowship with them you will seldom, if ever, hear from their mouths, proclamations of gentleness, compassion and claims of their great Christian family example. If you spend some time with them you may learn one important lesson from these HOH men - that we need to have a humble spirit lest we start to believe that we are the lesser sinners. We learn that we must never tell others of the greatness of our exemplary Christian character and spirituality because the more that is said, the more cringe worthy the speech becomes and the more deeply the roots of spiritual elitism have anchored our souls. Always remember the text “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5. Lest we ever think that salvation is for “good Christian characters” and that God’s grace is apportioned more for the righteous, then remember that God takes on that Divine noun “Him that justifieth the ungodly”.

Our Lord Jesus Christ did not come into this world because we are just and good, but to justify the ungodly. We must not believe and make others believe that there is something so good about us that surely God will notice that light of goodness in us. Instead Romans 3:10 reminds us that “There is none righteous, no, not one”. And if we again are tempted to tell of our good works and character, let the following words from Isaiah 64:6 ring loudly and continually in our ears as though we suffer from incurable tinnitus! “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”.

The HOH men have various occupations. One was a civil engineer, another a lecturer in aeronautical engineering from an American university. Another a musician and another a teacher. There was also one who had never held a secular job and grew up as a street kid. Most of them aspired to have a good career and many had parents, like most of us parents do, supported them for their college and university education.

On meeting the HOH men, almost immediately they will proclaim that they have all sinned in substance addiction. Some arrive knowing about the HOH ministry, while others are abandoned in the grounds by their friends and family who leave them at the doorstep as a last resort. All of them, are bound by the love of Christ. Some, on completion of their HOH one year program, have returned into normal society and maintain good jobs. Some have become part of the law enforcement and others have become teachers. But all owe their healing from addiction to the grace of God.

Over dinner, the HOH men were asked about the effectiveness of their ministry. Their answer was simple and yet, powerful. They tell us that the responses are varied. There are some addicts who get through the one year program with few problems, but others relapse midway and need to start again. Some are converted to the Christian faith and some are not. However, most importantly, the common factor is that “all would have heard of Christ”.  Some will know Christ and some will be convicted to dedicate their lives to Christ for the cause of the gospel at the HOH ministry. From the conversations we had, I know that apart from the issues of drug addiction, we are no different from the brethren at HOH. We all follow and worship the same Christ as our Lord and Master. Not much more was said. It was short and simple, but all that was needed to be said was said.

To be continued….

More Lively Hope



  • Welcome Rev Hyun Choi to the pulpit.
  • Hospitality Roster for Pr Hai Seng Lim is at the foyer. Please have fellowship with him.
  • Next 5 Lord’s Days’ Adult Sunday School topic is “How to Study the Bible”. All worshippers are encouraged to attend. The Gospel of Luke resumes after that.
  • Adult and Junior Daily Manna for next quarter available in the foyer.
  • Cambodia Missions, 16-30 Jan 2018. Please see Elder Michael D Lee if you are interested.
  • No Joy and Maranatha this Saturday.
  • Kitchen Duty helpers - This week: Team B. Next week: Team C.

Praise & Thanksgiving

  • New worshippers & church activities in the past week.
  • Journey mercies for all arriving safely at their destinations.


  • Healing
  • Journey mercies for all travelling.
  • God's blessing on upcoming weddings.
  • Year 12 exams.



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