Caught In Slavery… Forever?

“Just $80 will free you from years of slavery.”

What if you were a slave in the slums of Manila, but you knew you could never buy your freedom –even though you owed only $80? Whenever you were able to save just a bit, your owner would tell you that you had to pay him back for the food you ate yesterday and the blanket they’d let you use. So from the few pesos you’d earned from him that week, you’d pay, –then try again to save. But soon enough, those few pesos too would go for necessities, such as slippers and a comb. You knew you would never get even close to paying off the debt. Such was your life…

This was the plight of Daling (not her real name), the oldest daughter of my brother’s best Agta friend who died the year before. She took on the debt of a relative who didn’t want to go back to the city as a maid –since she had the chance to get married instead. So even though Daling’s dream was to be a Bible Translator, she went in the bride’s place, knowing she’d be working a very long time, if not forever. (…That’s sacrificial love, isn’t it?)

So this is the true story my brother felt led to tell in front of our church one Sunday before communion time:

It was March, 2006 and my parents were about to come back to America after being in the Philippines a few months gathering more data. They heard about what happened to Daling. So when they went to Manila, and using some leads, they searched and searched for her. They finally found her on the outskirts of the city, living in absolute filth and squalor. Obviously, her “owners” were destitute, but somehow they had been able to secure this debt, and were thus using Daling to care for their children while they were gone all day to work in the city. My parents said that when they saw Daling, she was sweeping the ground and trying to clean up dog poop. The house was a shack made of cardboard and tin.

As my parents talked with Daling, they realized she was actually a slave, with no way out. And even if she’d considered escape an option, she really didn’t have even enough money for bus fare, let alone a boat trip all the way to Casiguran. Besides, her owners would send someone to fetch her eventually.

So, my parents waited around for the owners to get home, and then told them that they would pay the $80. Oh, no; they would hear of no such thing! Of course! –for Daling was way more valuable to them than $80! My parents became more and more alarmed and dismayed. In the end, with many tears, they had to say good-bye, and slipping her a bit of money, they left Daling in that slum.

My parents called us here in the States, and we and they asked many people to pray. Much prayer went before God’s throne… It was only two days before my parents were to leave the country.

Prayer answered: The next afternoon Daling showed up at the mission guesthouse! How a jungle girl found the address –and her way– was like a miracle. She said after praying for God’s will, she had indeed decided to escape. Well…! For the “owners” now, the situation had completely turned! My dad called the “owner’s” cell phone and seeing how clearly devastated the man was at having lost his slave, my dad offered to meet him and still pay him the $80. So they arranged to meet at the shoe store where the guy worked. Guess what? Daling accompanied my parents –because she said she wanted to– and they all sat and drank cokes at a nearby restaurant and even prayed together! My parents gave the man what was owed, plus extra, they said their goodbyes, and Daling was FREE. There. Just like that. Debt paid. By someone who could pay. Simple. Complete and total freedom acquired! ! !

Do you think Daling ever thought she had to go back to that slave master? Did she ever think that he had one bit of hold on her? NEVER. She knew the debt had been paid in full. She knew the TRUTH of the matter…

The next day in fact, Daling caught a bus with a group of Christians who were headed for a workshop on Bible translation, and now almost four years later, she is overjoyed to be working with the team translating God’s Word into a tribal language!

…Well, back to the Sunday morning, 9/28/08: Before we gratefully took communion, my brother said a few more things that pertain to our spiritual situation. I think you can all guess what he said. It was something to do with how wonderfully marvelous it is that Jesus paid our sin debt and SET US FREE ! ! ! ! Yes… for truly, once we belong to Jesus –our new Master and Shepherd– we have been set free from the slave master called “Sin”! (Rom. 6:6,7,14, 16-22) It is fantastic news! And for those of us who grasp the lostness, the slavery, the bondage, the hopelessness… that we’ve been ransomed from –it is the kind of news to be absolutely and extremely grateful about. So much so that we use all our strength and time to tell others of this amazing beautiful saving Gospel.

For as Jesus Himself says, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin… [BUT] if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34,36)

With love,


~ by smilesback on November 19, 2009.

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