I think it was about 1980 that Aries, a Filipino co-worker, and I were standing at the top edge of the Manila Garbage Dump, better known as "Smoky Mountain". Below us lay the village which was home to the 15,000 people who eked out an existence at the dump.
It was early morning, around 5:45, and the sun was just coming up over Manila Bay. Aries and I had met there to pray. We were asking God to assist us and the other team members in effectively reaching these extremely poor people with the Good News of salvation in Christ.
As we prayed, an old man approached us. He had begun his day's work, scavenging at the dump. He was gathering aluminum cans but was too weak to carry many at the same time. When he asked if we would guard the cans he had already gathered while he looked for more, we gladly said yes. We continued to pray as he gathered cans.
The old man came and went with his tin cans as Aries and I discussed evangelism, discipleship and prayed. At the end of our time of prayer, the old man approached with another load of cans. Since it was now daylight I could see that he was really quite elderly.
It is respectful in parts of Asia and especially in the Philippines to ask older people their age. I greeted the man, commented on the fact that it was really something that he was up so early to work, and politely asked his age.
With a big smile, he said, "Oh, it's wonderful that you asked. Today is my birthday! I am 78 years old."
Aries and I gave him our congratulations and then broke out singing "Happy Birthday!" As we finished, we shook his hand and gave him a hug. He thanked us very much for being so kind to him on his birthday.
We then easily asked him if he was prepared to go to heaven. He didn't know what we spoke of or how to do this. We proceeded to share the Good News of salvation in Christ. After several minutes, this can-gathering, old man, this garbage dump resident, turned from his sins and in joy trusted Jesus Christ as Savior!
What a place to receive Christ-on the top of the Manila garbage dump!
The old man then invited us to his little shack to meet his family. At his home we met his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. During the next several weeks several in his family also trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. I guess you could call this event "from the dump to glory!"
All this came about as a result of a simple prayer meeting on the top of a dump and in the process guarding a few dirty cans for an old man.
Anybody could have done the same.