God's Heart for the Poor
Through the Transformation Theology class at Asian Theological Seminary. I grew in the conviction that the poor. weak and vulnerable are at the center of Gees heart. and began to pray how I could live out what I had learned. It was 1989. and Filipino women had started working as entertainers in Japan. News about the plight of “Japayukis” grabbed my attention. After a brief exposure with Christian groups working among women caught in prostitution in Metro Manila. I shared my burden with my roommates involved with the Navigators and with my churchmates at Citifriends Christian Fellowship located a few blocks away from the red-light district. We began making regular visits to Ermita to befriend women one at a time.
Small Acts of Kindness
I got to know a woman in her early 20s named “Linda” who expressed her desire to go back home to Davao City. Citifriends helped her buy a boat ticket while my roommates agreed to let Linda stay with us until she was ready to go home A few months after, I had the chance to visit Davao and met “Linda’s” older sister, “Dina” who also once worked in a bar for US naval servicemen. Months later, “Dina” asked me to accompany her to the naval base to seek support for her four-year-old Amerasian child. I watched as Dina’s request was quickly dismissed by the American woman officer, without even probing her story. In another few months, I received a letter from someone. He wrote. “You do not know me, Ma’am. I just want to thank you for the kindness you have shown to my sisters, “Linda” and “Dina’. I want to also let you know that I am now studying in a bible school in Davao.” Though “Dina” was dismissed by the US officer, I realized that in God’s economy, a small act of kindness can have a ripple effect beyond what we see in the moment.
I explored befriending prostituted women living in a poor community in Mother Ignacia near the seminary. Through the help of a community social worker. I got to know five women who were working in the and street. My roommates and I opened our house for our new friends to celebrate birthdays, learn typing, or simply stop by and hang out before going to a nearby bar. It was from this group that some of my longest relationships with women survivors of prostitution began. ‘Betsy’ and ‘Nita with whom my team and I journeyed through the ups and downs of their lives have since grown spiritually, found work, and allowed God to use their lives.
ATS was an important place for me to reflect on issues affecting women in church and society, together with classmates Athena Gorospe. Zenet Maramara and Cris Gordovez. In 1991. I met Jonathan Nambu in a Church History class, who ministered to troubled youth involved in street gangs in Chicago. He encouraged me to organize my loose network of friends into a ministry. With the blessings of the Navigators’ national director. Philip Flores. I proceeded to move towards this new direction.
Compassion Towards Women in Prostitution
We believe that as recipients of the compassionate love of God as individuals and as a community, we must extend compassion particularly towards the marginalized and vulnerable among us such as these women.
Recognizing that we have both unique gifts and strengths, as well as unique limitations, we value solidarity and collaboration, networking and partnership with individuals and groups in providing loving care and accompaniment to our modern day Samaritan women.
We believe that meaningful and nurturing relationships are the contexts for our journey towards healing and wholeness as people created for interdependence and relationship.
Integrated Transformational Journey
We value the integrated transformation journey as the road each of us must travel towards union with God, personal growth and recovery of our true selves, and restoration of meaningful community with others.
We believe that each woman and man, regardless of their background, has innate dignity, beauty, creativity and sacredness because they bear the image of God.
We seek to be a learning community that values a constant process of creative change, growth and renewal through exploration, reflection, study, discovery, and dialogue with others.
We believe that our most powerful words and action are formed and nurtured from the deepest places in our heart through contemplation and that meaningful contemplation and reflection results in an overflowing of compassionate love to others.