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LIVING ON THE MOUNTAIN

Listen to one man’s remarkable discovery at Smokey Mountain near the Philippine capital of Manila: "A gigantic man-made mound, perhaps 100 feet high, ran on before us for a mile or more. Wisps of smoke rose from fissures all over the sides and top of this municipal dump and landfill.

‘Five thousand people live on that mountain,’ the guide said, ‘and off it, too.’ He meant they made their livelihood from scavenging useful garbage. As we walked up the side, acrid smoke stung our eyes; the stench of rotting garbage was overwhelming. Shacks made of plywood or tin lined the main street, with smaller shacks squatting farther away on the sides of the mountain. The trucks dumped fresh garbage at the top of the mound. My eyes followed the cascade of refuse down the side of the mountain to where the bulldozers were working below. Scores of women, men, and children scattered ahead of the bulldozers, then swirled back in the wake, working rapidly with homemade stick-rakes to find some salable treasure in the refuse.Then the guide took me to a larger shack that had a cross on it and the words ‘Baptist Church’ painted underneath. The guide asked if the pastor was in. A stocky small man appeared with that typical warm Filipino smile and cordial greeting. Antonio startled me with fluent, articulate English. When I inquired about his education, I learned that he was a graduate of one of the most prestigious seminaries in Asia. I thought, ‘This man could be the pastor of any major Baptist church in Manila. I wonder why he’s here.’ So I asked him and heard a remarkable love story. Antonio, as a young seminary graduate, had volunteered for missionary work at...

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