Pastor Randy and Becky Slavens of New Life United Methodist Church at Fairland traveled to the Philippines February 9 through 27, to learn more about missions to children and United Methodist leaders there.

According to government reports, there are approximately 1.5 million street children in the Philippines and 100,000 of them are estimated to be prostituted. The U.S. Department of Labor reported 2.4 million children work under hazardous conditions there.

According to the Angeles City Tourist Association, Field Avenue (the red-light district) brings in more than a million dollars a week. In 1997 it was reported 75 percent of the prostitutes in Angeles City were children.

Because Becky's brother and sister-in-law live in the Philippines, they became aware of not only the struggles of many children in the country, but also individuals seeking to make a difference in their lives.

The Slavens met Father Shay Cullen, director of Preda. He has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize with his work rescuing children from the sex trade and also children locked up in adult prisons. He recently wrote a book called Passion and Power: An Irish Missionary's fight against child sex slavery. In 2006, Reader Digest wrote an article about him called "Champion of the Forgotten Children."

The Slavens also met with several district superintendents and Bishop Lito. On average, one United Methodist Church is planted in the Philippines each day. Around 45 percent of the Phillipine population is under 18 years of age.

While in the Philippines, the Slavens met several pastors and worshipped with congregations in the Angeles City area. Pastor Angel of Friendship UMC is the treasurer of the Immanuel Bible School. Slavens led a worship service with the Aeta tribe. When the young men graduate from college, they return to the mountains as United Methodist pastors. They will make only 25 cents a day.

The Slavens visited mission work to the Aeta people. There are 15,000 Aeta people, who are natives of the Philippines.

One of those missions is Paradise Ranch. There they met Eric Gomez, a member of Americans for the Philippine Children, who directs Paradise Ranch which employs young people. Half of their salary is set aside for their college education which they will be given when they enter college, as long as they stay out of drugs and violence.

The Slavens are open to invitation to churches or small groups who wish to know more about the Philippines and the work of The United Methodist Church there. In return, they ask for a love offering to be received for this mission or The United Methodist Church in the Philippines. Call 317-835-8463 or cell phone 317-604-8400.

New Life UMC at Fairland has pledged $1,000 to support missions in the Philippines.