My heritage is Filipino. My upbringing is American. I am one Filipino-American (FilAm) who is caught in-between these two worlds. Some days I feel more like one over the other. My roots are in the Philippines, but my citizenship is in the USA. You can just imagine the constant "turmoil" I have in my own personal reflection time. This struggle for identity is coming out in the open at this time of the Philippine General Conference 2019 (PGC2019), here in Butuan City, Philippines. Let me back up a little bit.
I am here in the Philippines as a visitor and representing FMWM, a missions arm of FMCUSA. I am here as an observer, and also as an "explorer." I am exploring new ways of doing missions here in Asia, starting this off with one-on-one meetings. I am meeting up with different individuals who have the passion and experience in doings missions work around Southeast Asia. Just last night, I sat down with Junmark, and listened to him and his various short-term missions trips to Indonesia and Thailand. It is encouraging to know that despite meager resources, many Filipinos like Junmark, are going out to the nations and fulfilling God's call to go and make disciples of all. So, during these meetings, I feel a sense of unity, a sense of kindred spirit that we have a similar vision, the call to bring the Good News to all tribes and cultures. My identity is no longer on my being an American or Filipino, but is grounded on God's call for every Christian to go and fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime.
On several occasions during the PGC2019, many pastors came to me and said, "You once belonged to our Philippine Free Methodist Church conference." It is true. I pastored in the Northern Philippine Conference for eight years (before I moved to North Michigan Conference). I did not mind their comments. It did not matter anymore what my heritage or upbringing was. What was important is that these same Free Methodists here in the Philippines have the same vision for cross cultural work as the Free Methodists there in the USA. Both Filipinos and Americans have the same passion to obey God's call for world evangelization.
I am still caught in-between these two identities. But my loyalty is with the Almighty God. I am a Filipino, and I am an American. I belong to a people who are seriously obeying God's call to become a witness of God's love and salvation for all tribes and nations.