Teens Lead in the Philippines

Date Posted: 7/25/2013

Several Texas teens did not just ‘go along’ to help with missions in the Philippines, they took an active role. Adult team members watched them in action and found a new sense of personal inspiration.


“Going to the Philippines changed me a lot, by being able to experience and do things I thought I would never do in my life.” At 15, Bellaire UMC,  member Marie Jhem is Filipino by birth and a U.S. citizen who immigrated with her family when she was about 7 years old. “Marie stepped right out there in leadership on our Philippines trip,” says Rev. Diane McGehee, TAC Center for Missional Excellence Director, “and translated during our time there for Pastor Tori Butler and others – from English into Tagolog, the national language of the Philippines.”


“Before this experience, I thought I was better at talking to individuals than big groups,” Marie shares. “I was not afraid to speak to the group because I saw that the little kids were looking up to me to tell the stories of the Bible. Even though I forgot words at times, they never laughed. Having children listen to me was one of the most cherished moments that will not soon be forgotten. I hope they have learned something from me, and apply it to their lives as they get older.”


“Although I was only there for a few days, this experience has had a great impact on me. Throughout the course of my stay, I believe I became someone bigger than what I had previously thought of myself – and I know this is not the end, but the beginning.”


Adds Diane, “It was phenomenal to watch the young adults on our trip step into their own leadership styles. They prepared Bible studies, gathered kids for Sunday worship, helped with crafts, food distribution, translation and basically showed their stuff!”

Projects in the Philippines

Marie was among the group recently traveling with Diane to two of Together in Hope’s  (TIH) project sites in the Philippines: Upper Javier and Malis.  “With me was a small team from Bellaire United Methodist Church: five young adults and Pastor Tori Butler, as well as a construction supervisor from Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, Houston Alan Miller, and a volunteer from St. Stephens United Methodist Church, Houston, Elizabeth Jackson.  It was a trip filled with hard work, celebration, and renewed commitment to the work that calls us all as members of a shared global community.  In Upper Javier, TIH partners with Harris Memorial College, a Methodist college, that trains deaconesses who then commit their lives to serving and living among the poor. I wish you could meet these young women. They have a commitment to service that would inspire us all.”


“Women in the community want to learn to sew and are interested in basic gardening,” says Elizabeth, “so if we can teach a small core group in the community to grow their own vegetables to provide for their families, then they can teach others. In the meantime, I can do some homework to research local plants and common pests. And I may look for fabric in the St. Stephens UMC sewing closet to send to the amazing women in the Philippines.”