Inviting and Empowering
God calls us in unique and different ways. Before I became a Columban lay missionary, I was happy working in my diocese for nine years. But somehow, I had this feeling that God was calling me for something more. Through prayer, God lead me to where I am now, a Columban lay missionary, living in Taiwan, and working in the migrant ministry to witness and experience God's love.
I meet a lot of people working in the migrant ministry. My job requires me to work together with the Filipino volunteers. What I find challenging is inviting and empowering lay people to be active in the church. I want to share a story of one of the volunteers that I've met in the parish. Her name is Ivy Chiu, a Filipina married to a Filipino Chinese. I noticed her every Sunday with her son. They usually sit outside the church. One day, she approached me and asked me about wanting her son to receive communion. That struck me and I realized that there are people who are thirsty and hungry for God but that they just don't know where to go.
I introduced her to one of the Sisters who is helping in the children's catechism to prepare them for the Sacraments. I also introduced her to the Chungli Association for Immigrant Families (CAIF), a group of Filipinos married to Taiwanese. As a loving mother, Ivy wanted to share her Catholic faith with her son. She wanted to become a good role model to her son, and I encouraged her to be part of the lectors and commentators group for the English Mass. This will also help encourage her son to be active in children's ministry of the church. Ivy was soon chosen to be the president of the CAIF. She was hesitant at first, because she was scared of the responsibility. She said that it was too much for her, because she didn't know what to do. We asked her to do three months as a trial, and that if she still finds it difficult, she may resign. By the grace of God, she was able to finish the first three months and served CAIF for a year.
Whenever I saw Ivy, I am always reminded of God's calling and invitation to all of us. God uses people and situations to be closer to Him. I am proud of Ivy's courage to say "Yes" to God's invitation. She had fears, but held on to her faith and love of God. She was able to finish her term for one year, and for her, it was very fulfilling, that she was able to share herself with the community. It deepened her relationship with God. I was amazed how she had grown spiritually. In the past, she was just attending Mass, and now she is already one of the leaders in the church community. At the end of her term, she asked me to join their CAIF meeting for the election of their new president. I told the new incoming President the same thing that I said to Ivy, to try it for three months and discover how God unfolds His Love for her. And Ivy just laughed at me upon hearing those same words. I told Ivy that I was able to say those same words because I saw it working in her.
Just like Ivy, I also had fears when I said yes to God's invitation to be a missionary. I don't know what lies ahead and if I am worthy of the call. Yet despite of it, I believe that we are all called by God to a deeper trust in His Love. The road may not be easy, but the challenges along the way help me become a better person. This is my story, and I can share it with the people.
Columban lay missionary Joan Yap lives and works in Taiwan.