A small island in the Phillipines, Boracay attracts tourists from all over the world with its winsome charm and “postcard looking beaches”. Located 400 km away from the capital city, Manila, Boracay’s economy now thrives on the continuous influx of tourists.
Noelle Kan first went to Boracay on a vacation with her friends at the end of March, 2014. Unbeknownst to her, her life would change dramatically from this short trip. Walking along the beach, Noelle and her friends inevitably crossed paths with many of the local children. Watching the impoverished children, God began to move in her heart. “My heart moved with compassion and an unshakable burden to bring the Gospel to them. All I knew was that, I saw an open door for the gospel and the need for them to hear about our Saviour. Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. This command was enough to move me, knowing that as I follow Him, He will make me a fisher of men.”
Upon her return to Malaysia from the trip, Noelle decided to respond to the unbending burden in her heart to bring the gospel to the children. Within a couple of days, she boldly bought a one‐way ticket back to Boracay. Mid May 2014, she packed her bags and set off for the island!
Her initial plan was to obtain a TOEFL Certificate teaching English as a second language in a private language school on the island. She had planned to obtain a teaching job to support herself while doing mission work. However, the Lord had different plans in store for her. Through God’s orchestration, she was eventually connected with some missionaries on the island and found herself agreeing to jump into the bandwagon of full time mission work. She let go of her original plans and in faith, joined the missionaries in a tribal school that was located in the mainland. Throughout 2014, Noelle taught the Tribal Ati children, Arts, as a full time volunteer. In addition, she had the opportunity to teach in Sunday school at a local church on the island itself.
In January 2015, while searching for a new accommodation and praying for new opportunities to bring children to Christ, the Lord led her into a local neighborhood. A poverty stricken neighborhood, locals know it as a den of robber and thieves. Drunk fighting and gambling are common occurrences as well. Noelle shares, that most of the children’s parents are unmarried, which is a cultural norm.
This was where she began her ministry to reach out to the children in the neighborhood. “Right from the beginning, my focus in the neighborhood was to bring the gospel to the kids, teaching them about our Savior, His commands and ways. I started with teaching them in the public area and the children just came my way. I didn’t need to do anything to attract them but God sent them my way. After that, as the Lord led, I invited them to my tiny place for Bible classes. Eventually, I had to rent a place for classes.”
The children steadfastly gathered daily to study the Bible, worship God and have fellowship together. Looking back, she is tickled at the genuine excitement and eagerness the children carry in attending Bible classes every evening after school. She recalls how they would always encourage each other to diligently come for classes.
This was the stage in front of the house she lived in. The walls were splayed with ‘sexually perverse’ graffiti, in which she could not bear. She therefore took it into her own hands to buy paint and clean up the public wall. To her delight, a teenage boy offered to help paint the wall (as seen in the picture above). Without her realizing then, this was where the kids would gather to hear and learn about God.
Towards the end of 2015, the Lord softened the hearts of the mothers and therefore, provided an opportunity for Noelle to reach out to them. She began conducting a ladies fellowship to share Christ with the mothers. To her delight, the mothers continued to come diligently to study the Word of God together, being strengthened and encouraged in the faith.
One of Noelle’s highlight of being a missionary, is seeing the Lord’s hand in provision. Besides the one time she sent out a mass mail, to share what God was doing in Boracay with the option for her mail recipients to sow financially into her work, she eventually decided to trust God completely. In faith, she made it a point not to ask people for financial support. She remembers praying, “God, if you want me here, then you will provide. If not, I will humbly go back.” She clung to Psalm 62:5, “My soul waits silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him”. She says, “I just really never wanted to say, my own hands saved me, especially in this time and age where there are so many schemes to grab. It’s a great thing to be able to humbly wait to receive from God, trusting in His ways of provision and timing.” Most of her financial support came from friends and family who saw what she was doing and were moved to partner with her in her ministry in Boracay.
This journey though, had not been a walk in a park for Noelle. Living in the dusty neighborhood street filled with cigarette smoke, pollution from ongoing construction and vehicles fumes, her health began to deteriorate. Due to the detrimental effect it had on her health, Noelle had to move to a nearby neighborhood in March 2015. Towards the end of the year, she developed serious allergies to molds that thrived in the ceiling walls of her home. “It was as though I was consistently feeling unwell and sick for the whole of last year. But I also knew that He was teaching me through it all, the important lesson of ‘Rest’. To rest in Him as said in Isaiah 30:15, ‘in returning and rest, you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength’.” “I can at times be impulsive and too quick for my own good. God had to slow me down, and for me to also reassuringly know that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I’ve seen how lovingly He has provided and looked after me during those tough times”.
Due to health issues, she moved out of her studio and transformed it into a classroom. Not long after that, she moved the classroom to another place with a more peaceful surrounding and fresher air.
Despite the trying times, she revels in knowing that her labor has eternal significance and that she will see the children in eternity. She recounts, “Everything starts from the inside where the seeds are sown. At times, the seed lays inert under the soil, but as the Lord waters it with His truth and shines His sunshine of love, in His time, they will grow and fruits will be seen. Faith looks into the unseen.” She believes that in His time, the community in the neighborhood would be transformed.
Noelle had felt the peace to return to Malaysia to be with her family for the time being. With eyes alight, she passionately shares how her heart still burns for missions. She still carries a desire to reach out and share the gospel with the neglected, least and oppressed.
Cheryl Loo is a former vice principal for Kits4Kids Foundation specializing in Early Intervention for children with special needs. With a burden to bring Christ’s love and see the Cambodians grow to know the Lord personally, she has recently moved into the country for mission work. If you are interested to sow financially into her mission, details for banking are found below. For further insight as to what she would be doing in Cambodia or if you express an interest to stand with her in prayer and would love to receive frequent newsletters; contact her at email@example.com (may bank acc no: 1123 6233 1003)
This is part of an initiative togetherwith Jason Lee who will be attending the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG2016) which will be held on 310 August 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for His global mission. Jason Lee has had the opportunity to work with churches, orphanages and youths in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, Thailand and East Malaysia. If you would like to find out more about YLG2016 or connect with Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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