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.