Missionary finds ministry calling outside her front door
Jessica Becker has done missionary work in the Philippines for seven years, but motherhood is what opened her eyes to the mission field right outside her door.
For three years the Briercrest alumnus taught with her husband Nate at Faith Academy, a school for missionary children in the Philippines. She stepped out of full time teaching when she became pregnant with their first child. Leaving her job was a difficult transition for her to make.
“It took me two years really to adjust to my role as a mother,” Becker admitted. “A couple of my friends said, ‘It seems like you died. I haven’t heard from you.’ I feel like I did die to what I had trained for and what I loved to do. But through becoming a mom, God opened my eyes to a new ministry He had for me.”
Becker discovered the new work God had for her when she took her toddler out for a walk.
“Those three years I never noticed the people who lived down my street,” she said explaining how much her focus had been on teaching. “I never even walked to the end of the street –there’s a river at the end and there’s a bunch of people – squatters who live on other people’s land. There’s a hill that goes down and there’s all kinds of people crammed and crowded in there. The Lord just opened my eyes. I thought, ‘I can’t believe these people live right down my street and I never noticed them before.’”
Becker’s friendship and visit to another young mother’s home opened her eyes to the way those in need around her lived.
“I formed a really close relationship with one lady in particular named Emi,” Becker explained. “My Mom sent a present for her fourth baby. I always knew if I went to someone’s house like that I would never believe what I saw. It hit me so emotionally to see a half wall of cement and they were sharing the roof with another family. They had a platform made of bamboo and their whole family slept on that platform. I gave her the present and it was all brand new stuff – she’d never received for any of her kids anything new, so for her it just overwhelmed her to see that gift.”
The experience deeply impacted the missionary.
“The Lord . . . opened my eyes to a person who loved the Lord, but is really in need,” she said. “But she’s so thankful and joyful and never asks for anything. Through that God really helped me to learn more about the life of the poor and gave me a heart for them.”
Becker decided she would host a women’s Bible study in her home. She met with Emi individually each week and mentored her in teaching the twelve Filipino women their Bible study each week.
“Each chapter had a memory verse,” Becker said. “Each week when they memorized the Scripture I had a present for them. If they could say the whole thing they would get that present. They were different things that they needed. Like one week I gave them 10 kilos of rice. Another week I brought them purses. Another week I brought them a bucket of kitchen supplies.”
At the end of the 12-week Bible study Becker wanted to reward those women who could say all twelve verses. She couldn’t decide what the prize should be for such an accomplishment – some of the memory passages were really long. She decided to ask the women. She had them write their ideas down on a piece of paper which she folded and took home. She opened the papers up later that night as she was nursing her baby.
“I was overwhelmed,” she exclaimed. “They had huge ideas! One lady wrote she wanted a washing machine. Another lady wrote she wanted new teeth. One lady said that she wanted her house repaired. There’s no way I could ever come up with that money.”
As Becker prayed about the ordeal, she had an idea.
“I thought of 12 of my friends that I would consider asking to adopt one of these women,” she explained. Then I went around and took pictures of all the things like where they wash their clothes by hand or the roof falling in.”
Becker mailed the photos and the list of women to twelve friends asking if they would pray about giving toward any of the specific needs. Beckie From, Becker’s mentor her last two years at Briercrest, responded to Becker’s email. From, along with a small group of women she met with in Caronport, chose to fulfill one of the biggest requests from a Filipino woman named Ruen.
“Ruen asked for repairing her house,” Becker said. “But the money the small group sent was enough to make a whole new house. She was totally blessed and overwhelmed. She’d actually prayed for the house for three years and God answered her prayer. She became a light in the neighbourhood and through that her faith was also strengthened.
From’s small group of women didn’t stop there. The following Christmas—even though no further donations were expected – they sent another money gift for Ruen.
“Their small group went above and beyond,” Becker said smiling. “We decided to use the money to build a kitchen onto the back (of Ruen’s house). The money provided a floor of cement and a roof and a table.”
The table provided an indoor location where the women now have prayer together each morning.
The giving wasn’t over. Last Christmas the small group sent another gift to their Filipino friend.
“(The money) gave her new teeth,” Becker said. “Filipino ladies – when they laugh and smile – they cover their mouths because they’re ashamed of their smile. (Ruen) had teeth pulled, cleaned and some dentures. After that she felt so beautiful!”
When Becker came to Caronport last week during her furlough, she found a way for From’s small group to meet Ruen. She set up a Skype date. Ruen used a computer at another missionary’s home and the Caronport women got a chance to speak with her.
“There were many tears and great joy in that meeting,” From said. “Ruen quoted so much Scripture to us and conveyed the way these verses were transforming her life. She is an active servant of the Lord in her community and is making the most of every opportunity to share with others the ‘great things He has done’ in her life as a testimony for Christ. Her complete joy and transparency was life giving and was a reminder of the walk I should also have; so humbling.”
Becker was excited to connect the friends who lived an ocean apart.
“One of the things Ruen said was, ‘You know, we all have the same God. We’re sisters,’” she said recalling the event. “That was really special. To connect two worlds like that – tears were here and there – and laughter. It was the foretaste of heaven.”