Kelvin & Julienne in Manila

Written by Julienne for Go Asia (May-Aug 2019)

Kelvin and Julienne are former educators, currently Serve Asia
Workers with OMF Singapore and serving in the Philippines, using
their skills in Arts and Sports as their ministry of outreach.

“Can we use our youth for God?”

This was the question that started it all. Back then Kelvin was a
school counsellor, and I (Julienne) was a graphic designer and
lecturer. We each had Christian influence over a few students in our
fields, and sensed a growing restlessness for deeper ministry. We were
energetic newlyweds impatient to use our weightless season to explore
overseas missions. Serious seeking began through prayer retreats and
talking to mentors. Having narrowed down our options to Southeast Asia
and youth ministry, we hopped along without expectations on a friend’s
mission trip to Pandacan, Manila, where an organization called Bukang
Liwayway (BL, or Dawn for the Poor) served the slum communities.

Every day we rode on man-pushed trolleys on train tracks into the
village. Together with the local youth leaders of the slum, we went
out in groups to interview the families who lived in cardboard
shelters along the train tracks—people even poorer than those in the
slums. They welcomed us to sit in their makeshift homes, and we heard
their stories. Some were made homeless by natural disasters, others by
the impossibility of finding regular jobs. That week I met a boy who
was of a different choice of orientation. I played with children whose
fathers were missing in their lives and abused alcohol. But what stood
out the most for us was the joy and faith of the believers. BL was
indeed awakening an eternal dawn in the lives of the most oppressed.

We left understanding that our world back home was bubble-wrapped.
There was much we could give to help our new friends in Manila. More
than a humanitarian impulse, however, we felt drawn to this
organization’s spiritual work among the poor. God’s Word jumped off
the pages; we had never seen ministry so close to the man on the street.

He is the One who does the work in all corners of the world. We
are just privileged observers happy to be sent back to a place
that we left our hearts in four years ago.

Although we wanted to move there immediately, we felt the Spirit
telling us to wait and equip ourselves. Kelvin started a MA in
Christian Ministry in East Asia School of Theology. Meanwhile we made
trips back to Manila over three years, on which I brought along
Christian artists to run Art Camps and workshops. We raised money for
a computer and software so that the Filipino artists could print
t-shirts for their livelihood venture. Time passed, and we would
occasionally hear of our friends’ homes being burnt down or destroyed
by typhoons. We spent time with their Skate Ministry, doing kerb-side
devotions at midnight while boys in tights practiced Zumba beside.
Kelvin graduated, and I gave birth to our daughter Theo. Kelvin became
the youth worker of our church while Theo completed her vaccinations.
All this while, we never stopped desiring to return for a longer term.

In June (2019), when Kelvin will have completed his promised term in
church, we will finally begin one whole year in Manila. We are no
longer newlyweds in a “weightless season,” but God has used these
waiting years to make us more mature in ministry. We will be based at
the BL headquarters in Marilao Bulacan to learn and observe the
ministry before we are placed in an area that fits our family best.
Kelvin will be involved in youth ministry and church-planting, while I
will be helping with newsletters and Art workshops. We are
apprehensive about what ministry will be like with Theo, but have been
encouraged by fellow missionaries that a child can open new doors.
Pray for us to be thankful in all situations and united as a couple.
Above all, pray for us to always trust in God, who brought us on this
fruitful waiting journey. He is the One who does the work in all
corners of the world. We are just privileged observers happy to be
sent back to a place that we left our hearts in four years ago.

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