Greener Pastures in Icy Prairies (by Pastor Jorge De Ramos)

Updates from Pastor Jorge and Bolen de Ramos in Hong Kong
     I (Jorge) asked a new comer.  "What is your purpose of coming to Hong Kong?"

    "Greener pastures, Pastor" was her quick reply.

     "What do you mean?"  

     "I want to migrate to Canada after my contract and hopefully, I could bring my family there as well."  This woman is a committed Christian, an active  member of a very conservative church  and, as she has claimed, helped her husband out of his backsliden state.  

     This is one of the typical reasons why women OFW work here in Hong Kong.  They see Hong Kong  as a stepping stone towards migrating to wealthy western country.  Just in the past two months, I saw at least three ladies leaving for Canada and London.   I know a few  in our fellowship who are intently working out their way for an immigrant visa to these countries.  Most of these left their children and save up whatever they earn from their meager salary as a domestic helper in Hong Kong to pay off whatever placement fee is required.  These placements are usually processed by an agency here in Hong Kong and the fees are exorbitant.  It is commonly believed that your chances of migrating to Canada increases dramatically if you have finished a contract in Hong Kong.

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A team practicing to share the good news

     One mother took her 18 years of working in Hong Kong, coming back home only twice in that period,  before she finally was able migrate to Canada.  Her daughter, who has earned a college degree through her support, decided to come to Hong Kong as a domestic helper so that she could see her mother regularly.  She came to learn that her mother due to leave for Canada within weeks of her arrival to Hong Kong.  

     One sister wrestled with the choice whether to go back home or sign a new contract.  What makes it complicated is that she was asked to appear at the British embassy in Manila for an interview on her visa application.   Another sister has the same dilemma; her contract has expired while she is still in the middle of expediting her Canada visa, which she hopes to complete within months.  Her predicament  is this: can she find a DH job that will keep her only for a period until she is ready to leave for Canada?  Through this difficult situation, she has to set aside her longing to see her children and husband left behind in the Philippines and plod through for her dreams with a strong emotional resolve.

     One sister left family and a good job in Manila  to work in Hong Kong,  just to prove to her husband that she could take their family to Canada and ultimately  to the USA singlehandedly and without resorting to underhanded methods.

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A send off party for Bing C. (center). It is always a bittersweet experience

     These are the costs that some Filipinos have to bear if only to find their way to a western country.   The promise of a greener pasture in an icy prairie.  For them, they could land on a job there that gives worth to the labor they offer.  In these western countries, your job does not tie you to your social status.  You can be what you desire to pursue.  Unlike in Hong Kong, a domestic helper can only remain as a domestic helper.   Moreover, there is the promise of an excellent welfare system for the residents of a country like Canada.  What is the downside?  I do not know.  I haven't lived there.

     What I know is that churches here in Hong Kong would commonly set their sights to Canada as the next place where they would do outreach and church planting.  Obviously, they would start with their members who has migrated there.   It is also not uncommon to find pastors here with a propensity to leave for Canada sometime.  Some would even take on the office of the pastor, even if they do not have the necessary qualifications (or even calling for it) just to increase their chances of migrating to Canada.

     My friend, Bong used to be a church planter in Vancouver.  According to him, the Filipino nannies from Hong Kong are a blessing to doing church planting in Canada.  Many of those he met are matured disciples and well-trained to do the ministry.  He says he commends those doing ministry in Hong Kong as they are doing a good job and makes the task easier for those who are serving in Canada.

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We make a point to multiply small groups

     This migration trend is not unique for the Filipinos, it is a universal occurrence.  People migrate from poor countries to richer countries, from the east to the west, from the south to the  north.  It is the law of hydraulics at work in the social arena. It is like the jet stream in the atmosphere or the currents in the ocean - one cannot stop it.   It is a people tsunami where no amount of social dikes can keep them from leaving.  They would just leave - documented or undocumented, at whatever cost.

    Now where should the church be in a world that is constantly in the move?  Another important question for me is this, what shape should the pastoral ministry take serving in a world that is in a state of flux?

     As for answers to these questions, I look at St. Paul, who traveled through the currents of migrations in his day with the aim of taking gospel of Jesus Christ where it was not heard.  I look at St. Peter, who taught the churches in dispersion to keep in mind to live as aliens in this world since they are citizens of heaven. I look at St. John, who from the world city of Ephesus encouraged the people to remain faithful to Jesus in spite of worldwide oppression and opposition to Christianity.  I look at Jesus, who came to earth to serve and not to be served.   He spent much of his public ministry in Capernaum, a city in Israel where people from the nations would be passing.  He went to the cross not only for people who are rooted in their countries, but also to people on the move. 

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Thea pouting over a Mercedez "Bling" - vanity over excess wealth

Here is a link to a video from our outing on resurrection Sunday.  Click the link to watch the video.


   
We would be happy to hear from you. My wife Bolen serves as the customer care officer for Arrow, helping employers and employees to adjust to each other, but we are also available to listen or pray if you have some family or personal needs you want to share with someone. Just give me a call on my cell phone (below) and we'll do what we can to help. (Anything shared will be kept in strictest confidence.) 

-- 

Rev. Jorge de Ramos
Jubilee International Filipino Fellowship 
CB Hong Kong/WorldVenture HK
20th Floor Sunbeam Commercial Building
469-471 Nathan Road,  Yaumatei, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Telephone +852 6761 5881