Easter gift. Give Rice.

Rice Bucket Challenge: Looking Back and Praising God. 

imageWhen I was young, my family could only afford to buy rice by the kilos. In the Philippines, growing up, I noticed that only the rich can afford to buy sacks of rice. When we ran out of rice, my mom would give some money to buy rice at a convenience store in our neighborhood. We were happy when we had rice even if there was no special dish to go with it. Sometimes, because money was scarce, we kids were happy when we had boiled rice with milk and sugar, or boiled rice with “sardines” or with “ginisang kangkong, “ or even with “ bagoong” (salted shrimp paste) or  with “patis.”( fish sauce). Having those to go with boiled rice was enough for us kids and we were happy.

Who would have thought that many years later, the ministry I am involved with now would be, by the Grace of God, providing sacks of rice to our partners ministering to the needy. Such is the grace and Mercy of God.

The idea for the Rice Bucket Challenge was duplicated from an NGO in the Philippines giving rice in a bucket of about 20 pounds to families. We started this idea in 2012 with volunteers of Radio Gandingan, a ministry among

Muslims in Mindanao. We gave 10 buckets of rice (about 200 pounds at $ 100).

Many of our friends and donors have responded to our Rice Bucket Challenge. In the beginning, we started giving to MEANS ministry partners 50 kilos of rice (one sack of rice)  which is equivalent 5 big buckets of rice (100 pounds). We realized that there is a great need for our rice eating ministry partners in Thailand and the Philippines. Six years later, sacks of rice are now being shared to many of them. Our donors in the US have enthusiastically responded to the challenge. The year 2018 was significant to MEANS. Last year, 305 sacks of rice (33,990 pounds) were distributed to 17 organizations including Bangkok Bible Seminary and Elpis Ministries inMaesot,Thailand.

Many stories have been shared to us about God’s goodness and provision for rice. Here are some of their stories.


ELPIS4Elpis Ministries, Maesot, Thailand
The head of Elpis, Maria Nelma, our partner helping migrant Burmese girls in Maesot, Thailand, for the past 15 years, shared:
“God, the Source of all blessings knows what we need before we say it. Praise God for these 12 sacks of rice from MEANS. A donor just ended their donation of rice last October.”

Through your generous help, MEANS will be able to continue to supply rice to them. They consume 6 sacks of rice each month to feed Faith House migrant Burmese girls and the village children that visit their compound every weekend for Bible teaching and feeding.

imageRadio Gandingan, Al Hayat Ministries
“Rice Bucket – MEANS have not forgotten our Muslim brothers and sisters who are working with Radio Gandingan.  Vernie Cie wrote: “GIVING is the best demonstration of CHRIST’S LOVE. Thank you so much MEANS USA for the sacks of rice for our Muslim Radio Community Volunteers during their Annual Radio Gandingan Family Christmas Party on December 2018 and for blessing them with your love and prayers.”

One of the radio volunteers said: “Thank you MEANS for the sack of rice. I will use it to make pastil dish for our livelihood business. It will be a great help to us.”

Pastil is a Maguindanaon ( Muslim ethnic group) recipe using boiled rice topped with meat, fish or chicken, then wrapped with fresh banana leaf.


Highlights on God’s Work in 2018

Stories to be Told: Highlights on God’s Work in 2018


RICE transported to an Island in Coron, Palawan, Philippines for New Tribes Missionaries.

So many stories have been woven in 2018 by God’s powerful and merciful hands. They are so many to be counted. We have been surprised many times as to how these stories unfolded. To us they are like tapestries. When you look at the back of a tapestry that is being woven, it looks like a mess. You would see knotted threads with different colors. It is difficult to figure out the shape of what is being woven. It is opaque, vague and undefined. But we do not look at the back of the tapestry with its many knotted details and colors. We look at the front part and admire how beautiful is the finished work of art of the weaver. God is our Master Weaver. He is the Master Designer, the One who keeps on weaving to make beautiful tapestries of stories for His children.  The stories we share with you here come from our ministry partners. These are stories that came out of what God wanted us to do – to build the Kingdom of God in places where He should be known as the Lord of all. Behind each story is the hand of God at work in unique and different ways in each person’s life. We ask that you open your eyes so you can see the work of God and give praises to Him Who deserves it all.

Flip Flop Project

In our partnership with IVCF Tacloban (Eastern Visayas), we aim to help them apply what they are learning from their Bible studies by reaching out to their own community. Since December is the season of gift giving, the timing was perfect! With the support of MEANS, a plan was conceived to distribute flip flops to children at a Haiyan survivors’ relocation community –  Barangay Guadalupe in Tacloban City. When a group of graduates, IVCF students and staff went there, the children and parents welcomed them with joy. They taught songs, dances and games. There was food and distribution of flip flops afterwards.

A volunteer shares: “The impact of our community outreach in my personal life is that it has inspired me in my role as a leader and a social worker assistant. I was challenged to be more faithful and to have a kind heart. I want to be a good person by doing good things and to share good deeds. The experience has helped me to become a better follower of Christ.  I  learned that it is indeed better to give than to receive. “ – Alfred John Perez de la Cruz, 1st year civil engineering student.

Sama Badjao Ministry

On December 23, 2018, an IVCF group with 8 students, 6 graduates and 3 IVCF staff visited the Badjao Church community in Mambaling, Cebu.

“It was really my first time to be involved in this kind of activity (Gift-giving to the Badjao Community). Whenever I would hear the word Badjao, what comes to my mind is their different culture, belief, traditions and faith. But when I volunteered to the gift-giving activity, I was surprised and was very blessed especially when I joined their worship service. Though I didn’t understand their language, I felt how sincere and dedicated they were in worshiping God. I really felt their submission to God. I thanked God for their conversion to Christ,  that they came to know the truth and are now worshiping God in Spirit and in truth. Despite their way of life, I felt their joy. Even in their simple way of giving, I saw the happiness on their faces. It was an overwhelming experience. I really thank God for giving me the opportunity to be part of this activity.” – Mari Joy Maranga, BS Math 1, Cebu Technological University

Jail Ministry

This is the first time that our ministry partners together with student volunteers and graduates under the leadership of Belinda Basas, a university instructor in Tanauan, visited a jail in Burauen, Leyte. There was joy, singing of Christmas carols, both by the visitors and inmates, food and gift distribution. It was a joyful experience.

Erika Basas Encina, a teacher at Tanauan School of Craftsmanship and Home Industries in Leyte wrote: “The inmates are very welcoming, I really felt so blessed by their eagerness to listen to God’s Word. But before sharing the Word, we sang a Christmas song to them and they sang with us. I really felt God’s presence, and we were enjoying the Spirit of Christmas. But the moment we started the praise and worship songs, everything changed in a snap. They were so touched by how God loves each of them through the songs. They were touched by the Holy Spirit and I saw them humbled with tears falling from their eyes. They may look strong and violent as evidenced by their well-built physical features with tattoos all over their bodies yet they cried out to God loudly because of God’s love. I witnessed God’s work in their lives. Indeed, only God can change the hearts of people. I also felt blessed to see them moved when the inmates started to sing another song entitled “Kay Buti-buti Mo Panginoon.” (Lord, You are so good).” The way the sang this song really manifested their surrender to God and acknowledging God’s goodness in their lives. This is one of the activities where I really was moved and overwhelmed by God’s doing.

Frederick Buechner, a famous pastor, theologian and author wrote: “Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories that God makes himself known to us.”

February 2019

Contributor: Lina Padilla

Editors: Carmena Cruz and Grace Rocha (February 2019

2018 Ministry Projects

MEANS Development Goal: Why do we do what we do? “The goal is to see people transformed to be what God created them to be; people who understand that they are created in the image of God with the gifts, abilities, and capacities to make decisions and to effect change in the world around them; people who steward their lives, communities, resources, and relationships in order to bring glory to God.” Steve Corbett –When Helping Hurts

These are the year-end MEANS ministry projects in the Philippines. We collaborate with our local ministry partners because they have the information, network, capacity and volunteers.

1. Care of Creation – We plant fruit trees native to the local community. The trees will help in greening, clean the air, prevent erosion and flooding in the community.

a. Bohol – Cortes, Bohol – 200 fire tree seedlings were planted in the forest preserve (this project is completed)

b. Cebu – Barangay Busay, Cebu City – to plant fruit trees in the forest preserve

b. San Carlos City, Negros Occidental – bamboo seedlings will be planted along the river banks. In the future, the community can harvest the bamboo for bamboo by-products.

c. Under His Wings – Cagayan De Oro – fruit trees will be planted in the campsite

2. Prison Visit – Our goal is creativity in reaching out to the inmates by sharing Christ’s compassion and bringing the true spirit of Christmas. There will be a Christmas program, distribution of flip-flops, goodies and Christian literature.

a. Burauen Distrck Jail – Burauen, Leyte

b. San Carlos City, Negros Occidental

c. Social Development Center – Taculing, Bacolod

3. Work for a Cause – Send one student. Serve one Community. What is work for a cause? MEANS believes that helping students financially to attend student training seminars should not be a dole out but something that the students will have to earn by cleaning or painting school toilets.

a. Negros Oriental University, Sta Catalina Campus – Dumaguete City

b. Cebu Technical School, Cebu City

4. Protect Children. Child Advocacy – Partnering with local ministry organizations engaging in advocacy that typically seek to protect children’s rights. Posters – we want to reproduce these and distribute to schools in Bacolod.

a. Human trafficking Awareness Program, Bacolod City. MEANS will sponsor local teachers, church leaders and school administrators to attend this seminar.

5. Youth Day – There will be gift giving so the youth will experience the compassion of Christ through this event. Youth day camp is a memorable experience in a child’s life. The opportunity to play games, make new friends, and learn about God’s love in a fun environment is a rare experience for the children we serve. Youth day. Agents of change.

a. Badjao community, Cebu City

b. Daga Elementary School, Cadiz, Negros Occidental

c. Cabunao Elementary School – San Carlos City, Negros Occidental

d. Seguinon National High School, Ormoc City, Leyte

e. Tumalaong, Bukidnon – a community of indigent families Under His Wings – serving urban poor communities in Cagayan De Oro

f. Precious Jewel Ministries – ministering to families affected by HIV in Metro Manila

6. Education Scholarship – Our goal is to develop Christian leaders, enabling young men and women to bring change to their families, communities and the nation. These young people are actively involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) programs, attend IVCF leadership training and exercise leadership in their school. The school tuition fees are being provided by the Philippine government for free. So, we supplement their other expenses like school supplies and housing rental. This year we have 5 students from Philippine Normal University, Cadiz, Negros Occidental. This Christmas we will have the opportunity to invite their parents for lunch and give gift baskets with Christmas goodies to these families. Philippine Normal University – Cadiz, Negros Occidental