One of the favorite parts of our ministry is working with Sidewalk. Sidewalk is an inner city children’s ministry that takes the gospel into some of the poorest places in south Manila. What began as a small outreach program with just a handful of kids has grown into something amazing.
12 years ago, when Joann Luciano (founder) walked into the slums for the first time, 13 kids came out to listen to her tell stories and learn about Jesus. Today, 10,000 kids are engaged and discipled every week.
I get so excited whenever I get the chance to talk about this ministry. Why? Because its all about:
Loving and serving children born into poverty: This ministry has a burden for the poor and the outcast. Joann coordinates teams of teachers who travel to over 100 sites scattered throughout the slums of south Manila. They walk into these places, find a big clear space and have Sunday school with the kids who come out. They sing songs, play games, tell bible stories and just love on the kids.
Taking the gospel into dark places: Every single week, for the past 12 years, these teams have bravely taken the gospel into some of the most dangerous places in the Philippines. Why? Because no one else will. They go to the places everyone else avoids, walking into the lives of those whom everyone else has rejected and cast aside and they bring with them truth, life, laughter and hope for a better future.
Raising up leaders from within: By far, this is my favorite thing about sidewalk. The leaders of this ministry, the ones who show up every weekend to teach, are all kids who come from these slums. Local kids modeling leadership and modeling Christ – that’s the key ingredient that makes this ministry so powerful. It’s not missionaries or even a local youth group who go into these rough neighborhoods, instead all the leaders of Sidewalk live just down the street from the kids they teach. They live the same reality. When they talk about love, change and hope it carries weight because they face the same struggles, hardships and challenges these kids experience every day.
Giving the underprivileged opportunities for a better future: If all this ministry was about was taking the gospel to the poor and to the outcast, that would be enough. But they also know that these kids need practical tools to help their family rise out of the generational poverty they have been stuck in for decades. So, Sidewalk has a scholar program that helps sponsor the discipleship, leadership development and education of their leaders. Today, over 30 Barrio kids have become the first in their family’s history, to not only graduate high school, but also get a college degree. 11 are presently studying, and hundreds more will join them. Our goal is to support 1,000 kids from the barrio to graduate from college.
This month, Sidewalk is breaking new ground in Myanmar. As I write this, Joann is leading a team to raise up a new batch of leaders who will be the first teachers to launch Sidewalk in Myanmar. Just three years ago you could be thrown in jail for worshiping Jesus but Myanmar is slowly opening it’s doors to Christianity.
In just the first two days over 100 kids showed up! Can you imagine what could happen in Myanmar in the next 10 years.
This is huge and we ought to celebrate together. God’s kingdom is expanding and His forces are taking ground but that also means we should anticipate some heavy resistance.
Until November 31st we’ll be praying for the foundation that is being laid during this phase of the project. Would you join us and commit to praying each day for the leaders of the Sidewalk movement and the launching of the first site in Myanmar?
Things to pray for:
- Government Resistance and Persecution: Evangelism is still illegal in the Burmese States.
- The hearts of the people and the children.
- The leaders: Vision, Inspiration, Protection, Provision, Favor, Courage, Hearts like Jesus.
The names of the leaders are:
- Joann Luciano and the Filipino Team
- Deck, a Sidewalk: Philippines teacher (17 years old) who has gone to help train the new batch of Myanmar Teachers
- Pastor Robin and the Myanmar Teachers – Heading the Sidewalk movement in their hometown in Myanmar.