A woman of many roles

It’s 12 noon on a Tuesday. The kids’ day-care that Jo and two others run in a neighbourhood of Manila is coming to a close. Time for a break! It’s a small space and the 3-5 year olds are chaotic, undisciplined. They will just walk out randomly to buy something at the shop in the middle of activities.

As usual, today the leaders are going to one of the children’s homes, taking lunch — a great opportunity to get to know more about the family and we often can talk about things that are not talked about in the community centre. This time the women and kids are joined by the dad, who turns out to be a determined Muslim apologist.

“After we had eaten,” Jo says, “he began talking about Islam and Christianity, comparing the two religions in favour of Islam. He had more of the Bible memorised than I ever would! We simply said, the Muslim faith is more about seeing God as a judge and the Christian faith is more about seeing God as a God of love.”

SIM Philippines has a policy that everyone, no matter what their main ministry is, should have a community that they engage in twice a week. In Manila most communities SIM engages with are a mix of Muslim and Christian, and most of the Muslims are families who have moved north to get away from political problems in the southern island of Mindanao. Muslims make up 10% of the population.

In the city district that Jo goes to for her community work, the building where they meet was built by both Christian and Muslim community leaders. The sons of the ustad* (a respected leader at the local mosque) come to the day care. He said to the SIM workers: “We’re a mixed population here, and we want to all work together for the good of our community.”

Jo went to SIM Philippines to be a mobiliser in August 2016, to encourage Filipinos who wanted to serve overseas. She was ideal for the role, having spent 1993-2001 living there (with another agency) and becoming fluent in Tagalog. But the Philippines office is different from most others, and not yet an independent entity. The part that sends missionaries out comes under the SIM East Asia office in Singapore; the part that receives mission partners comes under the SIM Central and Southeast Asia office in Thailand. In the northern island of Luzon, apart from Jo, there are 10 local workers and three from overseas. In the south there are partners from Australia, the US, Indonesia and the Philippines. Marrying together the whole SIM enterprise in this country will still take more time, and so Jo has an important role supporting the interim leader through the changes.

“I’m enjoying the varied roles that come my way in the SIM office,” Jo says. “I think I could be called a jack of all trades! I can see how the different work and roles I have had over the years all help me today as I assist during this time of transition and new leadership.” Jo has committed to staying until the end of 2019, and in May she was appointed Personnel Coordinator.

Also, as things become more sorted in the office, the mobilisation role that Jo originally went for is more viable. “It is great to see this role is beginning to emerge. Thanks for your prayers! We are still in the process of evaluating and considering options.” It seems this role will mainly focus on building up resources, such as preparing mobilisation presentations for churches. Churches in poor communities often don’t have the resources to support mission partners.

Please pray for:

  • Dreams and visions to bring Christ into the hearts and minds of people Jo meets in her community worker role.
  • Jo, as she settles into her new role as Personnel Coordinator.
  • SIM Philippines as it works towards being a full field office.