“Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people, because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord.” – Colossians 3:23
Development work is challenging – at least the kind of development work focused on the development of human beings. It’s a long process, particularly in the impoverished areas of the world where we work. There are so many environmental obstacles facing those we hope to educate and empower to live healthy, productive lives.
My recent trip to the Philippines provided me the opportunity to spend three weeks alongside Clark and Rina Miller. The Millers have been serving as full-time development workers with our organization in Tacloban City for just over a year. Though I regularly correspond with the Millers, spending time with them in their element was a qualitatively different experience.
What I observed in the Millers was enthusiasm. They exemplified the kind of enthusiasm focused on ensuring they are doing their part to serve the poor. As they accompanied our intern team, I was inspired by the Millers’ readiness to serve, their eagerness to offer up ideas for ministering to people in need, and their willingness to be flexible and hospitable to our visitors in many different ways.
In the midst of raising their daughter Kazeema and now taking care of two other children who they discovered were without any caretakers, the Millers ensured we had every meal, hopped onto every jeepney [public transport vehicle], visited each prison, each school, each transitional housing community, walked with us into the mountains to visit an indigenous community, and ensured that our interns had every opportunity to engage with the wonderful people of the Philippines.
Particularly for Westerners, long-term development work is counter-cultural; we are accustomed to quick fixes and struggle to exercise the patience for such enduring work without significant reward along the way. I observed in Clark and Rina a growing endurance for doing good works in a city very much still recovering from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan that struck Tacloban City in November 2013.
Presently, the Millers are involved in a variety of social services. Clark is facilitating human development seminars with incarcerated youth stuck in a poorly administered Philippines penal system. Rina is educating mothers-to-be in healthy, life-saving maternal health practices. While the language barrier is not an issue for Rina as a native of the area, Clark has overcome this barrier and has learned to teach seminars in Tagalog - the language of the people.
Learning the language of the people among whom we are ministering is of paramount importance to our organization’s paradigm. It’s a way one can gauge any development worker’s long-term commitment and enthusiasm towards educating and empowering those with whom they are working.
In addition, to these ongoing responsibilities, the Millers’ interest in working with children and in the field of education has landed them most recently in the midst of a transitional housing community. Here they will facilitate an after-school program for children in a very vulnerable situation.
I could continue to illustrate all the the ways in which the Millers are serving and are eager to serve into the future. But what I want to emphasize and am delighted to report is their enthusiasm to serve people in great need in the Philippines. They recognize that there are no extravagant accolades or rewards associated with their work. They find their reward in serving the LORD and seeing that his will is accomplished among some of the most precious, yet vulnerable people in the world.