SBCC’s Ministry to the Urban Poor
Sampaloc Bible Christian Community’s journey in ministering to the poor started from the God-given burden of its (then) Senior Pastor, Roberto ‘Bob’ Sanchez in early 1984 when the country was at its lowest economic condition due to the ongoing turmoil in the current political events of the nation.
Street children became a phenomenon in Metro Manila. There are so many of them roaming the urban centers, most specially in the university belt, the community surrounding the church. Seems like everywhere, the poor became so poor to the point that many of their children are roaming the urban streets to look and beg for food. Urban informal settlers (or squatters) increased, some of them living on makeshift carts, going around major streets in the university belt.
This burden was shared by Pastor Bob to the church leaders and the church became aware of the other sector of its community—the poor and informal settlers and the street children—and adopted a mission for the church to be relevant to this sector (not only to the students) and to become the hands that will reach out to them in love for Jesus Christ.
We became partners with Compassion Philippines and supported their Child Sponsorship Program in 1984, which aims to support the educational needs of one of the children of the poor family until he/she finishes elementary education. Later the program also sponsored children up to high school and college level. A year later, with an open opportunity to minister to the street children, the church partnered initially with the Christian Growth Ministry (CGM), a non-government organization that introduced the Drop-In Program and was later continued by the church as its major program.
The church opened its door to welcome the street children, feed them, bathe them, talk to them about themselves (where they come from, why they are on the streets, their experiences living on the streets, why they sniff solvents,) and about Jesus. The drop-in center was opened three days a week. This was later expanded into a shelter program when the church transferred to a bigger place in the same street.
For street children who have no family to return to, but desiring and ready to get out of the streets were invited to the shelter program where they were nurtured, by giving them food to eat, a place to stay, clothes to wear, and a family to call and enrolled in elementary school near the church. At the same time, street education for other street children were conducted by some members of the church once a week. A Pastor and a Christian worker are success stories of this program.
SBCC’s continuing mission for the poor was further confirmed by God when we transferred in the new place in Lacson because the in the immediate community are pockets of poor, indigent informal settlers interspersed with low and middle income residential/ dormitories and commercial areas. With this new community, our ministries shifted from street children to livelihood trainings, tent making (a micro finance assistance to support micro enterprise, extending not only loans but also mentoring on stewardship and enterprise) and small-scale educational assistance.
The Child Sponsorship Program with Compassion Philippines was expanded in terms of number of students and services. It is our dream to expand these ministries to the poor to include livelihood projects, full scholarship for technical-vocational courses for students from indigent families (who are in the economic category of survival and food-threshold levels), wholistic health services (which are not provided by the government’s health centers) and wholistic ministry for the elders in an environment of love and grace extended by God in Christ Jesus!