Set up in 1985, the Filipina Ministry aims to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of our Filipina sisters in Christ. Heng Wen Xiu interviews Patricia Chan about the challenges of helming this ministry, and Jocelyn Gan Loquinario, Racel Singular, Evelyn Daborbor, Tess Zamora and Dynah Alberca about how the ministry has supported them in their faith journey.
(L-R) Jane Esote, Dynah, Leah, Maribelle, Pat, Racel, Evelyn, Tina and Tess.
1. Hi Aunty Pat! How did you come to join this ministry?
Pat: Many years ago, I saw three Filipina migrant workers sobbing in a park, and the Lord gave me a burden to befriend this group of ladies working in Singapore. From 1981 to 1984, I was helping troubled/ distressed Filipina domestic helpers working in my neighbourhood.
In 1985, it was by divine arrangement that I met Mrs Beth Seow, a Filipina residing in Singapore as a Permanent Resident. Beth was worshipping in GBC with her family when she started a bible study for fellow Filipinas who were working in the households of some GBC members. She invited me to share my personal testimony with her class – I believe I found favour with them because I was invited back for more visits. Eventually, I started to co-teach the bible with Beth.
When the late Dr Poulson became GBC’s senior pastor, the Filipina class was officially adopted into GBC’s Outreach Ministry. Dr Poulson saw it as missions at our doorstep. To emphasise the importance of this outreach, he decided to appoint a deacon’s wife to take charge, and I was given that awesome privilege. Dr Poulson’s strong conviction infected me to give full commitment to this ministry. The average attendance grew to 25 – it was crowded in the classroom, but we were happy, spiritually hungry, and in love with the Lord. Dr Poulson also made it a point to invite the Filipina class to present a song item at GBC’s Christmas service. This was a highlight for the class every Christmas. I was deeply touched when I noticed a few ladies from the class attend Dr Poulson’s wake, because they had to courageously ask their employers for permission.
2. How has the Filipina Ministry encouraged you in your walk with God?
Pat: For the last 32 years, I have had the joy and privilege of witnessing the Lord’s work in the lives of the ladies in the Filipina ministry. Many have come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour: now they bring their needs to Him in prayer. Some also went through seminary training to serve the Lord in full-time Christian ministries; one married a pastor; while another married a missionary. There were also some who taught in Sunday School.
3. What were some of the challenges the Filipina Ministry faces?
Pat: The church rebuilding has affected the class attendance. Attending worship service at 3 pm was inconvenient for some, so a few settled down in another church nearer to them. However, for other absentees, some still have not returned to worship or fellowship, even though our church has resumed worship service at 9 am.
For other girls, the needs continue to be spiritual, emotional and financial. The challenge is to work with them towards financial independence and reunion with their husbands back in the Philippines, in addition to growing them in their faith.
3. Jocelyn, Racel, Evelyn, Tess and Dynah, how has the Filipina Ministry helped you to grow as a Christian?
Jocelyn: Being part of the Filipina Ministry has helped me to grow in knowledge and wisdom to face life challenges, so that I may serve the Lord with gratitude and faith regardless of how good or bad the circumstances may be.
Racel: I have learnt who God is through our study of the Bible, prayer and sharing among members.
4. How may we as a church pray for the Filipina Ministry?
Evelyn: Please pray that our knowledge of God will grow deeper, and that each of us may allocate time to study God’s word within our busy schedules.
Tess: Please pray that more students will come to the class to learn God’s word and to know God, and that Ma’am Pat will have the knowledge and wisdom to teach us God’s word.
Dynah: Please pray that each of us in the Filipina Ministry would have courage to share the gospel with non-believers.
Pat: Pray that the girls can assimilate into the GBC community, and be used with the unique gifts that God has given them, such as their beautiful voices and their experience with caring for children or the elderly. On a personal note, after three decades I feel that it is about time I pass the baton to a sister-in-Christ. Please pray for a successor to come forward as the Lord leads.