A chance encounter with a stranger set Bill and Jean Morley’s life on a different course 50 years ago. This is their story.
Have you ever met a stranger who changed the course of your life? Five decades ago my wife Jean and I were headed to the Philippines because we believed God was calling us to work with children in a city called Baguio, for one year, with Youth With A Mission (YWAM).
At the last moment our flight was diverted through Melbourne, and as we waited in the airport for our connecting flight to Manila, Jean got talking with a woman who was on the same flight. It was the kind of friendly conversation you have with a stranger and then you go your separate ways – the woman was flying first class and we parted on boarding.
Before we landed, we were handed a note from the woman Jean had just met. It said: “Collect your luggage at the airport. Don’t let anyone touch it. Wait for my son who will transport you to our place for the night.”
What a strange message! We wondered who this woman was and whether to trust her and stay at her place, even though we’d only just met her. We decided we would take the chance, and went to stay at her place in Manila thinking we would book our flights to Baguio from there.
We found ourselves staying in an elite part of the city and thought this was incredible given our next destination was an impoverished part of the country. The woman and her husband were amazing hosts, and we got on very well.
That night we tried to book tickets to Baguio, only to be told there were no flights for two weeks due to a cyclone. We were stunned. Hadn’t we prayed about all this and felt sure God was leading us to work with kids in Baguio? So why were we here, in this beautiful home in a wealthy part of Manila with people we’d only just met?
We kept asking ourselves those questions as we spent the next two weeks sight-seeing in Manila. It was hot and crowded, swarming with people, smelly, and had poor sewerage. We found ourselves noticing thousands of kids, many in poverty. We started to feel drawn to this city and its children, and that God was giving us a real heart for this place.
When we finally got to Baguio the YWAM leaders sat us down to give us some unexpected news: “We don’t think you should work here. You should go back and work in Manila.” They were very tentative telling us this, hoping it wouldn’t hurt our feelings. But Jean and I burst out laughing - this was exactly what God had also been showing us!
We flew back to Manila and began some of the most important work of our lives. That one year plan for Baguio turned into two years in Manila as we worked towards launching the Children’s Bible Ministry (CBM) in the Philippines.
Since that time, CBM has taught thousands of children about God and provided wider education and care. From its headquarters in Manila, the ministry runs a Christian school (both primary and secondary) for about 300 children, a ministry to deaf children and those who are disabled, a live-in home for children, and a Bible school that equips adults to teach.
Looking back, we can see how this ministry started up from a seemingly random encounter with the woman in the airport. It showed us that when we begin a journey with the Lord we have no idea of the many ways in which HE watches over us.