Volunteer Irene Tan shares with enquirers at the information night about her mission in China. (Inset) Verbum Dei Sister Leticia Lopez, the main speaker of the evening’s event. Photo by Darren Boon
SINGAPORE – Tammy Tan, aged 31, has sponsored children under World Vision and has accompanied the Christian relief organisation on trips to visit the village children. She also volunteers at events held by the Make A Wish foundation. But now, she would like to participate in mission work related to her Catholic faith.
Eric Foo, 44, became interested in mission work after hearing about it from friends from the Institute for World Evangelisation (ICPE) Mission. He hopes to contribute his time and efforts towards helping needy people overseas.
Both Ms Tan and Mr Foo were among the 50 people who attended the Archdiocesan Commission for Missionary Activity (ACMA) Information Night held Apr 23 at Catholic Welfare Services Building. They wanted to find out more about mission work and how they could help.
In her talk, Sister Leticia Lopez explained that mission is a commandment from Jesus that can start only with “a change of heart”, a conversion experience that comes from listening to the Word of God and discovering Christ, subsequently realising that in Christ, God has given us everything.
Having been moved by the love of Christ, it is only right that we share His love with others, Sister Lopez noted.
The Verbum Dei Sister highlighted that what separates voluntary or humanitarian work from missionary work is the element of faith, which allows for “missionary zeal and great enthusiasm in living out the mission of Christ”.
Although each Christian is called to witness for Christ, some may not be able to directly proclaim Christ. However, missionary work enables each Christian to be Christ’s witness in society at offices and homes, to friends and social circles, said Sister Lopez.
Other missionaries who shared their experiences were Daryl Spykerman from acts29, a youth mission group; Randal Snodgrass from the Epiphany Group, which teaches English in Indonesia; and Irene Tan who voluntarily taught English in China and helped to spiritually form village catechists.
That evening, ACMA also launched the Lay Missionary Formation Programme which begins Jul 13 at Church of the Holy Spirit. The programme consists of three parts.
The first part comprises core modules involving understanding the Christian mission, the spirituality of mission, formation for mission trips, and living the mission. The second part imparts practical skills such as basic first aid, language learning, and culture adaptation. The third part trains leaders to lead missions.
Programme participants will be encouraged to join a mission exposure trip to discern their calling to mission, and individual mentors will be assigned to each person.
One person who praised ACMA for starting the formation programme was Charlene Yang, 29, a volunteer at the Catholic Mission of Wiang Kaen, Chiang Rai, Thailand which teaches English to children in the centre.
Ms Yang noted that while many people are carrying out ad-hoc projects in small groups, having the formation programme would help train “a lot more people” and equip them with knowledge and practical skills used in mission work.
She intends to attend the course to strengthen her ability to lead a group, and to share her experiences with those new to mission work.
Meanwhile, Ms Tan is considering joining acts29 or the Epiphany Group on their mission trips. She said that the programme will help prepare future lay missionaries and give them “a better idea of what to expect, rather than go in blindly”.
As for Mr Foo, teaching English to village children is not his cup of tea. He prefers a more active kind of service in an international arena, such as contributing to disaster relief efforts. “Although it is ambitious, that’s my interest,” he said.
By Darren Boon