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The Samaritana Story: Partnership in the Philippines

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It was the last day of October and my first time on a field visit as the newest team member of Partners Worldwide Southeast Asia team. On our drive to Samaritana, Kuya Eli Toribio (the Partnership Manager for the Philippines) and I were listening from an app called Pray as You Go. That day, the message was about how Jesus healed a paralyzed man on a Sabbath. This story showed how Jesus defies societies conventions to meet the basic needs of humanity and how He challenges the norms to transform society. By now we know that God is not a God of coincidence – it was not a coincidence that this was the message on the app – but it was God’s way of reminding both Kuya Eli and me of our role in meeting needs and challenging norms to help transform society. And what perfect timing it was as we were on our way to meet the newest LCIs of Partners Worldwide Southeast Asia, Samaritana Transformation Ministries, Inc.

What’s in Your Hand?

For over 25 years, Samaritana has journeyed with women at risk and emerging from prostitution. Through a holistic approach, Samaritana’s team enables women to live productive lives with resiliency and dignity. This ministry would not have been formalized and organized if not for the act of courage and faith of its founders, a married couple, Thelma and Jonathan Nambu.

Sister Thelma had her share of doubts and was hesitant at the beginning to formalize the ministry. She had enough on her plate being a part-time student and working for the ministry, Navigators, along with her regular outreach and visits to women in prostitution. Brother Jonathan encouraged her by sharing with her a seed grant that was available through Mustard Seed Foundation. Like Moses, Thelma had many reasons and excuses to ignore the call, and like Moses, God asked her simply, “What is in your hand?” And as she wrestled with this question, she found that her starting point was not based on what she did not have, but what she already had. In surrender and obedience, Samaritana was formally registered as non-profit faith-based organization in March 1992.

In her book, Leaping and Dancing, she wrote, “God only asks us to share and to allow to overflow what we already have – our gifts, talents, and resources. He supplies us with what we need in every phase of our journey…”. In another part she wrote, “When we take risks to do what God tells us to do, we grow in confidence that this pleases God and that He will empower us to do what pleases Him.” Twenty-five years and counting, Samaritana is indeed a testament to God’s unfailing love and how He remains faithful to meet every need of this ministry, its workers, and the women they serve.

Going Together

As Partners Worldwide begins dreaming and planning together with Samaritana as our newest partner, I look forward to seeing how God will allow us to be a pillar of strength to one another, and how we will be channels of blessing not just to one another but more importantly to the women within this network. Brother Jonathan said something that stuck with me; sharing his reflection from Luke 21:12-19, he said: “We need to live with more heart (courage), because the work ahead of us will bring us to difficult places…”. I know that the work we are called to do is not for the faint-hearted, it is work that calls us into deeper courage and calls us to draw nearer to God who gives us strength.

Through our work together, especially starting with entrepreneurial training and mentoring, we look forward to how Samaritana will not only be able counsel and support women as they have done for over 25 years, but now also be able to offer opportunities to develop new vocational and leadership skills to create the next chapter in their life. And in the face of this arduous season, we continue to embrace our calling to join Christ in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing! Ephesians 2:10.

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