Cristine is grateful to have Compassion's Child Survival Program by her side as she raises her baby girl, Cassandra.
As her baby sleeps, Cristine begins to write down her testimony of coming to the Child Survival Program by the light of a flickering kerosene lamp:
"God has planned everything that happens in our life, but there are some things we are not ready yet to face. It happened to me when I got pregnant at the age of 21. I was not ready because I was the breadwinner in our family and I also wanted to finish my studies, yet I realized it was also my fault and maybe it was intended to happen, and so I faced it with the help of my partner and family.
"One day one of our neighbors told me that the Foursquare Church had a program for pregnant women called the Child Survival Program (CSP). I went the day the interview was going. I prayed that I would be part of the program, and thank God, He answered my prayers."
A Better Life for Her Daughter
Cristine lives in a crowded squatter community in Davao City. She hates to think of her daughter growing up in a community like this, where people openly gamble, drink, curse and take drugs. But people in this community also know about Compassion's work with the Davao City Foursquare Gospel Church.
When Cristine got pregnant, she hoped that her child would be sponsored some day. She didn't yet realize how much she would receive herself from the Child Survival Program.
"They have taught us how to be a good mother, a good wife and a good Christian through the Word of God. Workers were there to help me strengthen my faith in Him. When I gave birth to my daughter Cassandra, she was premature. Later, when she was 1 year old, the doctor told me that he heard a murmur in her heart."
With the church praying for her and the CSP staff by her side, Cristine took her baby in for a two-dimensional echocardiogram. It showed a small hole in one of the veins running through her heart, but the doctor told Cristine just to keep monitoring it. For now, Cassandra would be OK.
Staff at the center make sure that Cassandra does not miss any checkups. They also provide Cristine and her baby with food and other necessary items. Thirty-five out of 1,000 Filipino babies die from preventable diseases such as respiratory infections, acute gastroenteritis and bronchopneumonia.
To prevent such losses, the CSP center conducts monthly health monitoring for all its children and provides vitamins and medicines that families cannot afford. There are now 25 CSP centers across the Philippine islands.
A Stunning Gift
Cristine knows the most important thing she's gained is the opportunity to know God. Her husband now also attends church, and she prays that her parents and sisters will also join her in faith and worship.
"I have been blessed not just on the material things, but I have been blessed by a beautiful daughter, a loving husband and a good relationship in our family," she writes.
It's now late, and Cristine is about finished. Her husband, Javie, will wake up in a few hours to go to work at the local market. He sells chicken as early as 1 a.m. He gets home before 9 a.m., and then drives a motorcycle taxi to add a few more pesos to the family income.
Cristine ends her testimony: "And so now I know the purpose why I am here, why I was part of this program, to tell you the goodness that God has given me. The love He has for all of us, because God plans everything to prosper us and not ..."
She wipes her tears, deciding to check on that verse from Jeremiah tomorrow. Cuddled beside baby Cassandra, she at last can fall asleep.
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