That was the question asked as my husband and I prepared to go on a Serve Asia trip for 6 weeks.
Our role was to be interim mission center managers in Manila, the Philippines and we were keen to have prayer support as we set out to serve God, so we were explaining to our Christian friends what we were expecting to be doing.
“But”, I replied, “the center is so much more than just a guest home…”
As a training and conference center for OMF and for other Christian ministries in the Philippines the center has small meeting rooms, a child-friendly family room and a large conference hall. These can be booked and used by Christian groups seeking to reach out to local people with the love of Jesus for training or for prayer gatherings. Meals cooked by the wonderful kitchen staff can be booked and hot and cold drinks are available all the time.
The office part of the center is the administrative base for all that OMF is doing in the Philippines and related fields. Dealing with personnel coming long or short term to work in any part of the Philippines in a wide variety of roles and also sending Filipino Christians serving with OMF in cross cultural situations requires lots of work and the inevitable red-tape with government officials. All this is ably, patiently and graciously carried out by the office staff.
Serve Asia workers like ourselves come frequently to the Philippines as there are so many opportunities on offer. Maybe coming on a vision trip to visit an area of OMF ministry or perhaps to serve amongst tribal people or the urban poor, these folks come into the Manila Center often as their first arrival point. This is when the accommodation provides them time to get acclimatised and recover from the jet-leg plus some orientation and language and culture lessons. Groups coming short term with other mission organisations may also use the rooms and training facilities before moving on to their short term outreach activities. Some mission organisations see the Center almost as their “home away from home” as they have regularly used the centre for different groups over the years.
For OMF workers in transit the rooms and meals are an invaluable support. Whether they are in Manila for medical appointments, visa and passport issues, meetings, en-route to Home Assignment or vacation destinations or just for some retail therapy (!!) it’s helpful that they have a base in the city. Some workers live in remote locations far from the facilities of Manila – sometimes involving long and arduous bus or boat journeys to and from their ministry locations. The Center is also a refuge for our workers at times of illness or anxiety.
Sometimes a rest for a few days and time spent in quiet prayer may be just what a Christian needs (and may be what the doctor ordered!). The Center is ideal for a retreat center for Christian workers both in OMF and for local church groups especially those who support OMF. Time for quiet reflection or joining the regular prayer meetings can refresh and encourage a tired worker who needs a special blessing from Jesus and support from like-minded brothers and sisters.
Perhaps the most important role spiritually for the mission centre is as a beacon of God’s presence, a light in a broken world and a house of prayer. By owning property OMF states to the wonderful Christians of the Philippines – “we are committed to being with you long-term”. We can’t underestimate the power of witnessing to God’s love, by OMF standing for Him and being present in an obvious and physical way.
So we can all pray for God to continue and to grow His work in the Philippines and part of that is praying for the mission center in Manila – which is so much more than a guest home!
(a Serve Asia Worker)
Will you pray for the Philippines?
- Praise God for the faithful local staff at the mission center. May they find joy in serving Him at the center.
- Pray for the mission center managers, including interim and permanent ones, as they use their hospitality and administrative gifts to serve the guests from within and beyond OMF.
- Pray for the Field Leadership to know how best to continue to make use of the property as a training and conference center, as well as a guest home and offices.