When God calls and we obey, amazing things happen. That is again our experience during our 6 weeks short term mission, this time with OMF. Spending our summer-break in Samar (Philippines) has been a life-changing experience for us as a family, but also for the local communities we have met there. It has been a blessing to share with others what we have, but it has been even more impactful to receive from people who hardly have anything! Even though we had tough times with the climate, insects, language and the culture, God paved our way perfectly. The love of Jesus and a living relationship through Him is all we needed. Helping and educating some communities of Samar was a very valuable way to spend the summer break. It is worth much more than filling yourself up in abundance with food, alcohol and luxury. Less is really becoming more! Meeting God through a new culture, nature and through fellow Christians has enriched our lives and we encourage every disciple of Jesus Christ to experience the same in one way or another.
As a family of six, Raymond and Natasja with our 4 children, we were looking out for a good spending of our summer break this year. We live in the Netherlands and our personal focus to serve the Lord this year was Belgium, our neighbouring country. Despite many contacts and meetings all doors seemed to close in Belgium, so we signed up via the OMF website to see whether God had another plan. It seemed difficult at the first place to get a first meeting with them, but after Natasja’s mum passed away due to longtime sickness, we suddenly were able to meet the OMF team. It happend to be on the day of the funeral. It’s amazing how God paves the way.
In the beginning of May this year the OMF journey started and a few weeks later we received a message that we as a family were most welcome in Samar. Our oldest son Mauro (17) in the meantime had planned his own missionairy work in the Netherlands and did not want to change his plans. God called him to a camping place where he would participate in children’s entertainment and evangelisation work, but also to other ministry events in the Netherlands.
Our other children – Dani (15), Sacha (11) and Milan (10) – were excited to meet new people, experience a different culture, climate and nature. Their mission trip to Namibia (Africa) two years ago was still fresh in their memories. As parents we believe that overseas missions enrich the lives of the children. Especially when they are exposed to a varied cultural experience, in addition to exploring our God Almighty’s creation worldwide. During this trip a Manila family expressed to be highly inspired how we as a family do these missions and they wanted to learn from us to apply accordingly when it may come to pass.
In Samar we collaborated with the OMF team and we took ownership of the Sunday school activities and the youth fellowships in two villages. In other villages we mainly tried to build relationships with children through sports and craft activities. Furthermore we educated local children workers on the CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) method for child evangelisation and we shared practical examples for inspiration to set up a local “open air club” with bible lessons. Besides the ministries, Natasja organised various activities with local women, such as creative craft and body-care. Raymond helped in the setup of a pilot-vegetable garden and did some fencing work.
Looking back at this impactful experience we learned many things, such as living a very basic life with minimum requirements or not everything having to be perfect. It has been inspiring to see local people who most probably have so much less to spend are giving away so precious gifts with a loving heart. We learned a lot by following experienced missionaries; however we came to a conclusion that we are more of pioneers than followers. As a highly energetic team, wanting to do so many things in short time, we both (Raymond and Natasja) were set still by God through the weather conditions. It was hard to be very active with the heat and humidity we experienced. This forced us to do other things than planned, such simply take a good rest and listening to extensive but highly interesting Bible studies about what Jesus thought us to do as disciples. With all of this we concluded that “Less is more” would be the headline of our summer mission in Samar.
We went home with many memories, loving letters, gifts, pictures and rich learnings. In the Manila guest home we spent very valuable time with other missionaries, which was highly inspiring to us. It is a place where we experienced rest and holiness through many beautiful people we met and Christ like people who give themselves to share the gospel as commanded by Lord Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20. Going back home we pray that many more christians will follow us in spending their summer breaks together with God and that they may recieve life-changing experiences through other cultures and fellow followers of Jesus Christ.
Raymond, Natasja, Mauro, Dani, Sacha and Milan
(a Serve Asia family)
Will you pray for the Philippines?
- For Serve Asia families such as this, to experience short-term mission as a family.
- For this family as they seek God’s will for them as a family in mission.
- For those with lives impacted by their witness, that they too experience God’s love for them and want to have a personal relationship with Him.