Ron Homenuke ministers to street children in the Philippines
by Doug Nichols
Ron Homenuke, (graduating Class of 1984 from Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta, Canada), was honored as the Distinguished Alumnus for 2008. Ron has served in ministry to street children in the Philippines for nearly 30 years.
Growing up in the cold winters of northern British Columbia, Canada, Ron became a skilled hockey player. Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks, his professional career was well on its way when injuries brought a halt to Ron's dreams and he moved on from the hockey world to training in Wildland Recreation at Selkirk College in British Columbia. He had trusted Christ through the witness of a friend, but due to a lack of discipling, Ron's carefree lifestyle carried on much as before.
Early one morning in 1976, Ron and some fellow students decided to hike the Kokanee Glacier in British Colombia. On the way down, Ron lost his footing and fell almost 2000 feet to the base, suffering severe brainstem injuries. He lay in a hospital, unconscious for the first three weeks, until his transfer to a rehabilitation center where the former star athlete found himself learning to walk and talk all over again.
Ron's determination and hard work paid off as he fought his way back to relative health and enrolled at Prairie Bible Institute in 1980, still suffering the effects of his injury. He persevered and grew spiritually under the teaching and godly example of friends and teachers and went to the Philippines in 1985 as a missionary with Action International Ministries (ACTION). After working with street children in Manila, Ron moved on to a church-based outreach in the city of Olongapo (called “Sin City” by many) where he carried out a very productive ministry for 16 years. He is at present involved in a development of ACTION called Lifehouse Village, which will house up to 63 orphans and street children.
During these faithful years of ministry, Ron suffered fatigue, bouts of illness, and ministry setbacks that have made his life and ministry anything but easy. These experiences have allowed him, however, to see how God delights in using the weak and the ordinary to accomplish eternal purposes for God’s glory.
"Trust God with what He has given you," Ron says. "After my accident I had to relinquish the rights to running my life. I've learned to cope and I still struggle with the off-balance gait and the slurred speech but I would not trade my life for anything. Giving the Lord first place in my life, especially as a missionary, is far more than I could ever ask for."
Matthew Henry, one of my favorite British pastors who died in 1714, made an excellent comment regarding Luke 6:40: “Christ’s followers cannot expect better treatment in the world than their Master had. Let them not promise themselves more honor or pleasure in the world than Christ had. Let each live a life of labor and self-denial as his Master, and make himself a servant of all; let him stoop, and let him toil, and do all the good he can, and then he will be a complete disciple.”
Through a near fatal experience, God has brought Ron Homenuke into a life of purpose and fulfillment. His accomplishments in the hockey arena were temporary, but the difference he is making in the lives of street children that nobody wants will last for eternity.
Several years ago in Olongapo, Ron took me and another ACTION missionary to visit Rodney, a boy of 13 who had trusted Christ the week before at an ACTION camp for 68 underprivileged children (54 indicated they trusted Christ!). Rodney had leprosy, and it was really sad to see the filthy 3-room home (under an old staircase) he lived in with his mother, her live-in partner, and 3 other brothers and sister. We encouraged the mother to do all she could do concerning cleanliness and then expressed the importance of inner cleansing through the blood of Christ!
Later we briefly visited a government detention center of about 70 street children (ages 3 to 17). Ron usually ministers in the center twice weekly. The children saw us coming and began to shout Ron’s name as they love him so much. When the main gate was unlocked and we stepped in, the children overcome with excitement jumped all over us, all wanting to be touched and hugged! As we left about 30 minutes later, each of us had to take kids off our backs, shoulders and legs. Children were holding on to us to the last moment. I was the last to exit. As I stepped outside the gate, it was shut and locked. I then turned to say goodbye especially to a very unattractive little boy with many sores on his face and body, runny nose, and oh so dirty! I put my hand through the bars of the gate and he grabbed on for one last squeeze not wanting to let me go. By the time I reached our van, I was crying. “Dear loving Father,” I began to pray, “please have mercy on that scar-faced little boy. Bring him to salvation through your Son, the Lord Jesus. Help him to respond to the Gospel which he has heard through Ron. Please care for all these abandoned children for Your Word says, ‘for in You the orphan finds mercy’.”
Many additional missionaries are needed to work with Ron Homenuke and Filipino churches to take the Gospel and compassionate care to over one million needy, sick, dying and lonely stret children of the Philippines to the glory of God!
"From Cold North to Tropic Philippines (Ron Homenuke ministers to street children in the Philippines" by Doug Nichols (adapted from and added to article by Pat Massey)