Jesus ….turned our normal status ladder and social pyramids upside down. He advocates an identity characterised by solidarity, sensitivity and non-violence. He celebrates those who long for justice, embody compassion and manifest integrity and non-duplicity. He creates a new kind of hero, not warriors, corporate executives or politicians, but brave and determined activists for pre-emptive peace, willing to suffer within the prophetic tradition of justice (Brian McLaren We make the road by walking p 158-159)
Today I met some of these heroes as we been visiting the Tearfund team in Roxas, Philippines
The team was set up in the wake of super Typhoon Haiyan (the local name is Yolanda) which cut a path across eastern and central Philippines on Nov. 8, with some of fastest wind speeds on record. It killed or left missing more than 5,000 people and displaced an estimated four million. A major international relief mission helped survivors, many of whom would remain dependent on aid for months….
Now a year on we were meeting the team of Community Enablers, the ‘foot soldiers’ of Tearfund's disaster response team, who present the rebuilding programme to the community , and help identify the neediest. They do lots of technical project management stuff to do with base surveys and validation and implementation and monitoring and evaluation. They keep an eye on the quality and quantity of the work.
Mixing ‘professional excellence’ with ‘spiritual passion’, they are the hands of the Tearfund team, the relational bridge between ‘donor’ and ‘beneficiaries’.
They listen to the stories of devastation and heartbreak and turn them into slow painful action to rebuild what has been broken. They are nearly all women. ‘We are good listeners’, says Ann one of the more experienced Community Enablers ….‘and sometime good advisers’
A team of 10 who go out in pairs as good news bringers to each sector or ‘Barongai’ where Tearfund has decided to work (a bit like the short term mission in Luke 10). ‘Following Jesus where the need is greatest’
They are helping to reconstruct CORE housing - 270 houses in total. We saw a half dozen buildings in various stages of construction and met some of the beneficiaries and their family members who were helping the construction. It’s a team effort
These community enablers, what Paulo Freire called ‘animateurs’ or informal educators and social activists, are indeed ‘living boldly and freely in this new identity as salt and light’ (McLaren p159)
photos by Patrick Goh