It’s midday on a Tuesday. The kids’ day-care that Jo and two others run in a neighbourhood of Manila is coming to a close. Time for a break!
It’s a small space and the 3-5 year olds are chaotic, undisciplined. They will just walk out randomly to buy something at the shop in the middle of activities.
As usual, the leaders are going to one of the children’s homes, taking lunch with them. It's a great opportunity to get to know more about the family and we often get to talk about things that are not talked about in the community centre.
This time the women and kids are joined by the dad, who turns out to be a determined Muslim apologist.
“After we had eaten,” Jo says, “he began talking about Islam and Christianity, comparing the two religions in favour of Islam. He had more of the Bible memorised than I ever would! We simply said that the Muslim faith is more about seeing God as a judge and the Christian faith is more about seeing God as a God of love.”
SIM Philippines has a policy that everyone, no matter what their main ministry is, should have a community they engage with twice a week. In Manila, most communities SIM engages with are a mix of Muslim and Christian, and most of the Muslims are families who have moved north to get away from political problems in the southern island of Mindanao. Muslims make up 10 per cent of the population.
In the district Jo visit, the building they meet in was built by both Christian and Muslim community leaders. The sons of the ustad (a respected leader at the local mosque) come to her day care centre. He said to the SIM workers: “We’re a mixed population here, and we want to all work together for the good of our community.”
Jo joined SIM Philippines as a mobiliser in August, 2016, aiming to encourage and support Filipinos who wanted to serve overseas. She was ideal for the role, having lived there from 1993 to 2001 living there and becoming fluent in Tagalog. She has just been appointed Personnel Coordinator.
For dreams and visions to bring Christ into the hearts and minds of people Jo meets in her community worker role.
That Jo would settle well into her new role as Personnel Coordinator.