By: Edwin Estioko with Zoe Noakes   |   Posted: October 10, 2017

With a Bible in hand, a shy girl in the Philippines is living out the true purpose of the Great Commission.

The 13-Year-Old Evangelist

With a Bible in hand, a shy girl in the Philippines is living out the true purpose of the Great Commission.

Written by Edwin Estioko with Zoe Noakes
Photography by Edwin Estioko
Rodelin loves reading the bible to other sponsored children
Rodelin Bolante loves going to the Good News Child Development Center in the Philippines for meals, tutoring, Bible lessons and playtime.

The church-run Compassion center offers a healthy respite from poverty-related problems in Masbate City. In Rodelin’s community, the average family earns $44 a month. Most people work as day laborers and struggle to afford sufficient food, clothing and education for their children. To help their families survive, many children drop out of school to work jobs. The community also lacks proper sanitation, which leads to diarrheal illnesses among many children.

But from a narrow alley in this impoverished community come bursts of song and laughter. Sitting outside on wooden benches in two neat rows is a group of children. They have come to listen to their teacher share a Bible lesson. It’s a tough task for any teacher to keep a group of 5- to 10-year-olds in line, but their teacher Rodelin, a 13-year-old with a sweet smile, does it with ease. When Rodelin picks up her Bible and begins sharing her favorite stories, her students can’t take their eyes off her.

Since she was 10, Rodelin has led a powerful Bible study group. Rodelin began teaching her friends the songs she learned at her church-run Compassion center, and soon she was telling them Bible stories.

Rodelin Bolante, age 13
Rodelin is inspired to lead other children to Christ

“Whatever I learned from the center I would teach my students,” she says. “I am happy to lead them in worship and give the message through stories. My focus is to lead kids to Christ.”

By the time Rodelin was 11, she had led 23 of her friends to know Christ. “She’s no ordinary girl,” says Rema Reyes, director of the Compassion center Rodelin attends. “She’s an agent of transformation.”

Rodelin’s father works as a driver, but his job does not always bring enough money to support the family. But since Rodelin was registered with Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program in 2009, some of the financial burden has been lifted. Now Rodelin has books, supplies and uniforms to go to school. She discovered how much Jesus loves her, too, and gave her life to Him. She wasn’t alone.

“The most wonderful thing that happened to me was when both of my parents accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior,” says Rodelin. “Life has never been the same.”

Now she believes nothing is impossible — especially becoming a teacher when she’s grown up. Why is she so sure? “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” she says, quoting Jeremiah 29:11. With a Bible in her hand, Rodelin is bringing hope to her community in Jesus’ name.

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