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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Jan. 8, 2021By: Kirby Stoll  ›  Author Bio

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2021!

I hope you had a meaningful Christmas filled with opportunities to pause and reflect on the many blessings in your life. It already seems that Christmas and the weeks of Advent are a distant memory. Don't get me wrong, I was there, present for all of it, and had amazing times with our family of eight that included giving and receiving gifts, eating lots of delicious food, playing games, watching some of our favorite holiday classics and taking part in a very special tradition: attending the candlelit Christmas Eve service at our church, this year live-streamed on YouTube.

It is good for us to take a break and reflect on the past, especially at a time like this, the beginning of a new year. It is good for our health and an essential component for anyone who wants to make the most of their lives. I would argue that many of us do not spend nearly enough time reflecting on the past. The importance of doing so will help us immensely. I think we have all heard the quote that says, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." History repeating itself has long been seen as a negative, though I'm certain we could all find elements of history that are worth repeating.

Let this be an encouragement to you to set aside some time right at the start of this year to give thanks for the many blessings God has brought our way and also take time to reflect on the trials we faced as well and remember that even in those times, God was still faithful.


Be careful, though, that your looking back does not become a distraction or pitfall for what lies ahead. We all know that looking in the rearview mirror will take our eyes off the road and distract us from what lied ahead. Rather than looking back and getting stuck in the past, remember that God has a better plan for us. Philippians 3:13-14 says, "...But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." God is calling us forward—He has much for us to do!

God's Goodness to CSC in 2020

I joined the CSC staff this past August. More than half the year was already complete. The global pandemic was making a resurgence. In the Philippines, our children and staff had been on lockdown for five months already. There was hope that by the end of September things would "open up" and people would be able to resume some normalcy in their lives. That didn't happen and the lockdown continued. The most amazing news to share in and through all of this was that not one of our residents or staff contracted the virus. And, as an added blessing, regular illnesses were nearly nonexistent as well, and for that we are thankful to God.

As we passed Thanksgiving and were heading for the Christmas holiday season, we knew so much about this year's celebration would need to change. Plans were being made for how Christmas celebrations would take place in the context of all the new rules and regulations. Of course, here I was in the U.S. as a long-distance observer. Technology has become such as blessing for us this year, and I was able to attend nearly all the Christmas celebrations and staff meetings by Zoom. With the time difference, though, that meant me staying up until 1AM or waking at 3AM and 4AM to participate.


There's not much that could match my excitement for my first CSC Christmas as an employee of this amazing ministry. Suffice it to say, however, the children at the shelter were quite a bit more excited to see Santa arrive by cart to distribute all the wrapped gifts to each and every child. Beyond the gifts, there was singing, sharing the Christmas story or Jesus' birth and a feast that left my mouth watering.


Here stateside, we also had an amazing Christmas celebration as we were so honored to receive all the gifts from our faithful supporters who care so much to see this ministry for homeless Filipino children continue. We were literally shaking our heads at the generous and heartfelt response of all those who identify with the Mission and Ministry of CSC and cheerfully support.

Looking Forward: Opportunities in 2021

Reflecting on the past year has me thinking about CSC's mission statement. I asked our CSC board members last September which parts of the mission statement they identified with or appreciated most. As you might imagine, there were a variety of answers. Several of the board members have been on the board for a long time, while others are relatively new to the board, one member joining in June or 2020. I understand and resonate with their perspective. It makes sense to me that they would have different answers or perspectives. God has made us all unique, after all, and He draws us to different things based on how He made us.


What keeps me focused in my role as president of this ministry is the beginning part of our mission statement that says, "We exist to glorify God...." For 42 years this is ultimately what CSC has been about. Everything we do is dependent on that beginning part of our mission statement. Our glorifying God is the lens by which all other things aspects of this statement and the work of the ministry are viewed. And as we continue to glorify Him, He continues to show us just how much He cares for us all—children and staff—and provides for our every need.

One of the things our Field Director, Roberto, and I discuss on our weekly Zoom calls is the progress being made to admit new children to the shelter. CSC is set apart from other shelters or orphanages by our aspect on placement services and adoption. There are other places right there in Cebu City that provide care for homeless children, but their focus is primarily on long-term residential care. As children are placed through adoption, opportunities for new children to be a part of the CSC family present themselves. Our staff in Cebu are working diligently on both placements and new admissions, but the pandemic and government restrictions have made this effort challenging in 2020. It is our hope that 2021 will see more children being welcomed into the loving arms of CSC and that more children will be place for adoption. Please pray with us to that end.


Dear Lord, as we begin a new year, let us not become overwhelmed and anxious about the unknown and what the new year will bring our way. Help us to remember that you will never leave us or forsake us and that you want nothing more than to give your children the best gifts possible. Help us to remember—to reflect on the past—in a way that honors you and gives thanks for all you've done for us. Let us consider first and most what you would want us to do in the months ahead, to see where you are already at work, and then join you in what you have already planned for us to do. In the name of Jesus, the Christ, Amen.

It is my honor to be able to write periodically for our CSC blog. It is my hope that these words and the words from all those who share from time to time will draw you in to a deeper walk with the Lord and help you see things from different points of view. While we hope to tell you more about Children's Shelter of Cebu, we also want to share a bit about those who do the work. Learn more about CSC at


The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. Retrieved from:

The Human Memory. (2020, November 25). Long-Term Memory. Retrieved from:

Yocco, Victor S. (2018, January 5). Dwelling On The Past: The Importance Of Self Reflection (Part 2). Retrieved from:

Category: Staff Reflections
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