Where I see God in my journey

by Joan Yap,   Columban Lay Missionary, Taiwan


     My experience of cross-cultural mission is the greatest gift that I have ever received.  It strenghten my faith in God amidst the difficulties and challenges in life.  It has also become an opportunity to go deeper in my relationship with Him. And most of all, it is an invitation for me to witness God's love in every way each day.
2012, Taiwan, Joan facilitating a prayer meeting with volunteers
After completing one year of language class, I became involved in the Migrant Ministry as the Pastoral Coordinator at the Hope Workers’ Center (HWC) in Zhongli city. HWC was founded by the Missionary Society of St. Columban in 1986. Now, it is a Catholic migrant center under the Hsinchu Diocese. The center helps to protect the rights of migrant workers. It also assists in the parish work for the Filipino Catholic community in Jhongli. HWC has become a home for migrant workers and Filipino volunteers. The ‘open doors’ of HWC, welcomes them, gives them hope, helps them grow, and nourishes their spiritual life. Facing the challenges of leaving their families and loved one to earn a living, even experiences of abuse and discrimination, many migrants have found refuge in HWC and consider it asa place of joy, hope and love.

       Before I started in this ministry, I was already inspired by, and proud of, the Filipino migrant workers on how they have influenced the Church in Taiwan. I saw how they have given meaning and have brought life to the liturgy. When I first arrived with my fellow lay missionaries, we visited the church in Jhongli as part of our orientation program. I was happy to see faces of many Filipinos attending the mass. I felt how their being away from their families back home makes them long to be near to God. Their faith and their love of God has become their strength.

       When I began my ministry at the HWC with the Parish Pastoral Council and the Filipino volunteers, I was moved by their commitment to serve.  They have taught me to be selfless in giving. I know that it is not that easy for them, that they need to work hard to earn a living for their families, but I saw their dedication to help every Sunday with the three masses volunteering in the different ministries: be it practicing songs or assisting people in the church-- other volunteers haven’t even had enough sleep because they’d just come from their night shift at work. They also help in facilitating meetings, giving education and advocating migrants’ rights to their fellow Filipinos. 

        During my consultation and visitations with the different ministries, I always start with Kumustahan (Tagalog for sharing and asking how each person is) and from their sharing, I am always inspired by how they live out their faith. I was touched when they shared that they feel blessed being able to work here in Taiwan, and their way of sharing their blessings is to offer their life to others. I am so amazed with the realization that God calls us in different ways to become one body of the Church, witnessing and evangelizing God’s love.

Joan with migrant workers
          Looking at where I am now, my saying 'YES' to his invitation has always been an expression of my gratefulness for God’s unconditional love. My experience with the volunteers is a blessing for me because I was able to see God in them. I am here in Taiwan and just like the migrants, I, too, have found a home with the people I journey with in HWC and in the parish. And I am happy to tell the world of God’s Love and my willingness to partake in His mission.

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