The Republic of the Philippines is known as the only Christian country in Asia and comprises a diverse population. Spain claimed the archipelago in 1542 establishing and uniting most Filipinos through Roman Catholicism. Located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, the Philippines include over 7,000 islands, with Luzon being the largest and Mindanao the next largest island,itself being classified as restricted/hostile to Christianity due to the presence of strong radical Islam, such as al Qaeda. Some reclusive groups never embraced Islam or Christianity and have remained animistic (worshiping various spirits). Nearly 81% of the populace is Roman Catholic, 2.8% evangelical Christian, 5% Muslim, 8.8% a mix of other Christian and sectarian churches, and the rest are either unspecified or hold to their isolated ethno-linguistic cults. For further statistics visit: http://www.omf.org (Overseas Missionary Fellowship).
American control brought many evangelical missionaries to the Philippines to plant churches and since gaining independence this has fortunately continued, mostly through mission societies such as Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association, whose plan is to preach the Gospel in every village while providing theological training and direction to assist national pastors in essential follow-up discipleship.
Signet Ring recently caught up with Sophie Maedjaja, who traveled to the Philippines in the summer of 2012. Sophie was born and raised in Lynchburg, VA and attended Campbell University in North Carolina for her undergraduate and graduate education. She graduated pharmacy school in 2010 and moved to Utah to complete her pharmacy residency. Since then, she has remained in Utah and works as a clinical pharmacist in the intensive care units. When not immersed in pharmacy, Sophie loves to spend her time hiking, singing, going to the theatre, and interior decorating.
-Define what the term “mission trip” means to you.
Going on a trip with “spreading the gospel” as the #1 priority of the team. This could be done in MANY different ways; however, the main goal of every action/decision should be to win souls for Christ.
-How did God lead you to go on this mission trip and what was your role in the ministry?
I have always wanted to go on an international missions trip, but my schedule never afforded me the time until this past summer. My mom is highly involved with the women’s ministry at my church in Lynchburg, VA and happened to meet a young lady who had gone on multiple missions trips with the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association (www.btea.org).
When she learned that Bob Tebow takes groups of people to the Philippines during the summer, she thought I would be interested and told me to look further into it. Thankfully, my residency ended the week prior to when the first group was scheduled to leave, so I decided to apply. Originally, I was supposed to go on a medical missions trip and use my skills as a pharmacist to help the team; however, the medical portion of the trip fell through so I ended up going with another group. While we were there, our sole purpose was to evangelize and spread the gospel to whomever we met. Each day we would go from school to school and preach to hundreds, even thousands, of children.
Please tell me of someone whose life was impacted with the Gospel during your ministry.
We had the amazing opportunity to spread the gospel to hundreds of children every day. During the middle of my first week, I began to feel concern over whether the children really understood that once they accepted Jesus as their Savior, they were eternally saved and could be certain that they were destined for heaven. I prayed that the children would understand the message I was saying, and that the Holy Spirit would do the rest.
One day I walked into a 3rd grade classroom to preach and noticed a particular young girl in the second row who was very attentive and excited about my message. I wasn’t able to chat with her after the message or get her name, but she stayed in my mind the rest of the day.
Two days later we were eating lunch at one of the malls in Manilla. We were on our way out to begin the afternoon session of preaching when I suddenly heard a young voice call my name. When I looked up the young girl who I had noticed two days prior was waving at me from across the mall. I smiled and waved back, but just as we were about to walk out of the mall she yelled, “I’ll see you again in heaven!” Immediately, I realized that the Holy Spirit was working in the hearts of these children and that they truly understood the gospel. What an amazing moment! I look forward to seeing her again in a place where there is no death, mourning, crying, or pain!
Describe an experience you had in the mission field that has deeply impacted your relationship with the Lord.
I don’t think I can boil down the impact the trip had on my relationship with the Lord to one experience; however, two points were definitely made more evident to me by the end of the trip:
- Nothing in this world matters except for things that have eternal value… that would be people’s souls (including mine). After having “spreading the gospel” as my number one priority for two weeks, I realized that my priorities back in the US were screwed up. I had lost my perspective on what truly mattered, both in building my own relationship with Christ and in witnessing to others so they could have a relationship with Christ as well.
- God loves us sooooo much! I have known this fact since I was a little baby, but I really saw this attribute of God come alive on this trip. While most people in the Philippines have MUCH less than me, I could see how God still provided for their needs. In addition, I spoke of God’s love for us multiple times a day when I preached to the children. This trip really made me realize how much Jesus sacrificed for us and how undeserving we are of His grace and mercy. This realization made me fall more in love with Jesus and become so much more thankful for His grace, love, and mercy
What has been your most noticeable spiritual change since your missions trip?
I am now much bolder in speaking about Jesus and telling others about what He means to me and what He has done for me and the rest of mankind.
-How has your prayer life been encouraged by your recent trip?
This trip required VERY early mornings and VERY long days in a VERY hot climate. Preaching multiple times a day was not only physically draining, but was also emotionally draining. Without asking for God’s strength no one on the team would have had the energy or drive to continue preaching. We relied on prayer.
Since coming back to the US, one of the guys on our team has set up a weekly prayer conference where we call in from all over the country, share prayer requests, then pray together. It is amazing to be part of a team where the body of Christ comes together to speak to our heavenly Father.
-What would you share with people who are interested in being a part of a missions trip?
DO IT!! If you feel God is calling you to go on a missions trip of any sort, obey Him and go. He will provide the means, the time, and the resources. I can’t believe how much I learned on this trip, spiritually, academically, and emotionally. I met so many wonderful people, both Filipinos and Americans, that I will stay in touch with for the rest of my life. In regard to third world countries, the situations you are exposed to will change your perspective on life forever, usually for the better.
-Do you see yourself pursuing a more long term mission commitment outside of the States?
As of this time, no. But that can very well change. I am more than willing to go anywhere God leads me, but right now He has given me a heart for the people in Utah.