My Life Story

Columban Lay MIssionary Joan Yap

By Joan Yap

There is so much to tell about missionary life, but one thing to never miss to mention is that missionaries go where God sends them.

It is often said that the family is the seedbed of vocation. I believe so too. My parents were active church workers in our diocese. Their work was my first exposure to doing God’s ministry. I have two sisters also who were also Columban Lay Missionaries. They were assigned in Fiji and Taiwan, and it was through them that I was able to get to know the Columban lay mission program. I was inspired by their stories and their experiences while in mission. They would often say they thought that they joined the missions to serve people, but it turned out to be more than what they expected. They were blessed,  for in their journey  they were able to find God through people and their varied cultures.   

Columban Lay Missionary Joan Yap
Columban Lay Missionary Joan Yap

My parents had demonstrated to me their passion for missionary work in our prelature, now the diocese of Ipil.  They went to far-flung areas to organize small Christian communities. Rain or shine they did it. They climbed mountains and crossed rivers and seas to give catechesis, education and heighten people’s social awareness. That was my first experience of missionary life and awakening to the role of the laity as co-responsible in partaking of the mission of Jesus Christ to His people. 

Before I joined the Columban Lay Missionary program, I worked in our diocese for nine years. My work required me to visit the different parishes of the diocese. I met many different kinds of people. Their simplicity, service and commitment to the church inspired me to declare that indeed the church is alive.

Believing that God calls us to live out our faith, I decided to go on mission. When I said YES, my family and the people in our diocese were my inspiration. I feel so blessed because for the first time in our diocese, Bishop Julius S. Tonel, DD, decided to include my sendoff ceremony as lay missionary in the ordination to the deaconate and the priesthood - three in one celebration, three vocations responding to Gods call! 

Missionary life is really challenging but fulfilling. Getting out of one’s comfort zone and placing everything in the hands of God has been an exciting journey. It’s an invitation for me to get to know myself and to deepen my relationship with God, a daily recognition of His love for me. The challenge to live this is God’s gift to me so that I may also become a gift to others.  

I am privileged to be able to journey with the migrant workers here in Taiwan. Being away from their families, their life is very difficult. Some of them experience abuse from their employers and brokers, and they do very tiring jobs. This is all because of their love for their family and hope for a better life. These are the people who sacrifice a lot for their loved ones. There are times when we may not understand each other because of the language barrier, but being present in their joys, fears and loneliness and letting them know that Jesus is there for them may be enough.

I do believe that my mission right now is to inspire more lay people to continue to be involved in the church. I have seen a lot of persons who have selflessly given their life in the service of the church.  Even though I am a lay missionary, people still want to call me Sister, and when I ask them why, they say it is because we are sisters in Christ. Their answer seems right for me because in serving the church we are all brothers and sisters. We are all equal, we may have different roles, but as a baptized Christians we are all called to proclaim the good news. And that good news is to be able to witness and live out their faith. 

I am a happy as lay missionary here at Taiwan. I thank my parents for the seed sown of this missionary vocation in each of us. And this vocation is a gift from God. My vocation is God’s love. 

Columban lay missionary Joan Yap lives and works in Taiwan.

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