Angelica Echivarre is a program teacher in the Philippines, but the community she taught and grew up in didn’t always look the way it does now.
She was raised in Lorega, a community synonymous with drug abuse and prostitution. But she said she was rescued by God through her local church and a ministry, Compassion International, which aims to lift children out of poverty.
“I was found by Compassion as a hopeless young girl in the middle of a very dysfunctional community,” Echivarre told Fox News. “It was in Compassion where I learned to boost my confidence and practice my faith. Today, I am paying back by paying [it] forward.”
Pastor Davis of Cebu City Alliance Church said the community looks completely different now.
Instead of corners filled with drug dealers, children now feel safe playing in backyards and the street.
“Before, urban taxi driver will not come inside Lorega,” said Davis, whose oldest son benefited from being part of Compassion. “[Shootings] every day, but Lorega now is totally open with the gospel.”
As he points out, mothers in the community didn’t even express hope or dreams for their children when he first arrived.
Echivarre shares her testimony of hope now to churches and to the younger generation.
And today she serves as a Compassion program teacher at the Loving My Neighbor Student Center in Cebu City, the same place she was registered and grew up in the Lord.
“I advocate for children, as I was once a child like them in the center, giving them hope in Christ just like what Compassion did for me,” she said. “I now lead my own cell group for a bunch of young people and [serve as] one of the core leaders in the youth ministry.”