Article | Missions magazine

A Pencil for a Verse

Mar 14, 2023

By Patrick & Karen Carder

 “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) We have been serving the Lord on the island of Romblon, Philippines, for the last 10 years, and we have witnessed the truth of this verse many times. When we began serving in Romblon, our goals were to evangelize and disciple adults, both men and women. We thought a ministry with kids would be impossible since we were heading a pioneer work—serving in an area with no other missionaries—and had limited help. But God had a different idea. 

An unexpected ministry develops 

Hundreds of kids would pass by our gate four times per day. First, they would pass by on their way to school and, then, to and from lunch. Finally, we would see them again on their way back home. The kids would walk up to two miles each way, and we could see they were poor. 

One day, we decided to give each one a cup of lugaw, which is chicken and rice soup, as they passed by. The children enjoyed it, so we continued the practice. Some days we offered them champorado, which is a chocolaty, milky rice. As we offered this food and the children accepted it, we started to get to know and love them. 

One day, we decided to give each one a verse to memorize, and we offered a prize to anyone who could recite it. When the time came for them to recite the verse, we offered pencils, paper, other school supplies, and small toys as rewards. We noticed that no one took a toy. Then, we realized that their families couldn’t afford school supplies. The kids chose the prizes that met their needs. So we added more school supplies. 

God works positive changes 

Over the years, we’ve grown from 20 to 180 participants. Many kids have memorized more than 200 verses and whole chapters of Romans. We love that they are hiding God’s Word in their hearts (Psalm 119:11). We share the Gospel through the verses and through presentations. The verse “recitals” and gospel presentations take place in our multifunctional hall—a building with a nipa (“grass”) roof that was built in 2015 for children’s and adults’ outreaches. 

We also conduct Bible studies using the Emmaus courses and show the King of Glory movie in the Filipino language. We open these outreaches to children and adults. We have more adults in the Bible studies than kids, but some of the young people have completed many of the Emmaus courses. Our vision is to show the Filipino King of Glory in every village on the island. 

The ministry encourages us, and we pray for the salvation of these kids. We’ve observed positive changes in many of them. While much of what we do is different than what we expected when we first arrived, God is working on the island of Romblon. Please pray for the people of Romblon. 

Originally published in Missions magazine, March 2023. For more content, sign up for a free subscription (US) to Missions at