Loving the Timorese: Reflections on MITE programme

Dec 2016    

I embarked on a two-month Missions Internship Training and Exposure (MITE) programme to Timor-Leste (TL), beginning from 2 July 2016. This is my first trip to Timor-Leste and I was captivated by the beauty of this land and its people. The Timorese are friendly, resilient and they have a deep love for their country, which gained independence in 2002.

I was privileged to work alongside the Methodist Missions Society missionary David Chan in the area of education and community development. David, together with his family, teaches Grade Seven students at a school in Hera district. These 13- to 15-year-old students will be the nucleus for the planned Methodist School in Dili. The students are energetic and enthusiastic about learning. They value the opportunity to learn English and display much grit and perseverance to achieve fluency. They believe that the knowledge gained and their character development will enable them to be responsible and contributing citizens. It is indeed a tremendous joy to see them progress, slowly but steadily.

On Tuesday evenings, we blessed the children in the Hudi Laran community by singing songs, playing games, sharing Bible stories and distributing food. There is no greater joy when you see the smiles and laughter of these children!

Sundermeier Home at Gleno started in January 2016 and is managed by missionaries Joseph and Grace Mannar. It is home to 20 youths studying at a local high school. I enjoyed teaching them English and Mathematics and having devotion time with them. Education would have been impossible if they had stayed on in their remote home districts as they would have needed to travel for hours to attend high school. Under the loving guidance of their house-parents Joseph and Grace, they learn to live in a community, and pick up important life skills such as discipline, responsibility and empathy for one another.

Working alongside missionaries for a longer duration impressed upon me that “the best kinds of ministry are, more often than not, long term and low key,” as Christopher Ash put it. I am amazed and humbled by the missionaries’ obedience to respond to the call, and to give up a secure and comfortable lifestyle in Singapore to serve in TL. They picked up Tetum, the Timorese language, as part of their cultural integration and assimilation. They exemplify the love of Christ by faithfully loving the Timorese and remain convicted in trusting God to bring about results in His time. Their authentic discipleship is evident as they face challenges and remain faithful to God.

 Interacting with the Timorese and the missionaries made me realise that skin colour and language are not barriers to communication and God’s work, if we speak the language of love in Christ. I have been blessed and encouraged by the commitment, compassion and love shown by the missionaries as they serve to transform lives.

May God increase our love and capacity to pray, give or serve in the areas He has called us to, as Brian D. McLaren has rightfully pointed out that “every Christian is a missionary and every place is a mission field.”

The MMS Missions Internship Training and Exposure (MITE) programme is designed to send believers to the mission fields for a period of between one to three months, and enable them to experience the work and life of a missionary in the field. For more info, call 6478-4818.

Eunice Phang –

worships at Covenant Evangelical Free Church.  She loves nature, and enjoys running and hiking.

Photos courtesy of the Methodist Missions Society


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