People with a mission

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Saturday, January 18, 2014


IN my native country, the Netherlands, there is an organization that calls itself People with a Mission.

That organization is a funding agency and those people have committed themselves to work for a better world. They feel themselves like missionaries and they say that is what missionaries really should do.

I remember, I myself came to the Philippines as a missionary, a Carmelite missionary, and I felt that my task was to preach the Gospel and to bring the sacraments of the Church to the people. That was in Escalante, Negros Occ. and I was struck by the poverty of the people there, the exploitation of the sugar workers in the haciendas, the fishermen who were using dynamite in order to catch more fish.

Then I felt that it was my task to alleviate the poverty of the people and we organized the cooperative movement through which the people learned to improve their living conditions by helping each other and liberating each other from exploitation by the rich. I have written a column about this before: ‘How did I become a Carmelite and how did I fare further as a missionary in the Philippines.’ I ended up getting married and became a Carmelite lay-missionary. I never had expected that but I believe God has guided me all the way up to this point.

Those ‘people with a mission’ in Holland are inspired and enthusiastic people. They are people who have committed themselves to work in such a way that the dignity of every human being is respected. They are engaged personally, they work small-scale and are focused on the poorest of the poor.

That is what every Christian should do: to be a missionary like that. That is what our Pope Francis encourages us to do: focus ourselves on the poorest of the poor, to really become a Church of the Poor. We must have a firm belief in a better future for everybody. Our hope for a better future should not get lost. This will lead to an unbelievable resilience which has been shown by the Filipino people who were afflicted by the calamities that befell our country in the previous years, Sendong, Pablo, Yolanda, strong earth quacks, etc. They know how to cope with these setbacks and disappointments in life. Important here are values like reciprocity, hope, nearness and a sense of neighborhood, fidelity and dedication.

Those ‘people with a mission’ in Holland are grateful for the experience they have had in the past working with people in Africa, South America and Asia, with the Filipinos who haven’t lost faith in the future, working with their donors who want to give financial assistance and with similar associate organizations they are cooperating with.

As Christians we should develop in us that flexibility and resilience to cope with the future, the future of our country, the Philippines.

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 19, 2014.

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