The first time I saw her at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary, I liked her. As I entered the library, she looked up and smiled. Oh, not the business-as-usual smile, but that of a welcome, I-am-so-glad-you-came smile. "Hello, Tita (Aunt) Gen," she cheerfully greeted from behind the counter. She knew my name. I learned that she was Lilian "Luz" Tambongco, a licensed librarian and student at the seminary in the Philippines.
Luz is married to Adrian, or Andy as he is frequently called. They are both graduates of Visayan Nazarene Bible College in Cebu, Philippines.
Meeting Andy for the first time in my organizational leadership class, I was struck by his quiet, unassuming manner. He once said that he never felt loved as a child. After his parents divorced, he was sent to live first with one relative, and then later with another. "My self-esteem was invested in trying to find someone to love me, to play with me, but I couldn't seem to find that person," Andy explained. "I really didn't have any mentors and close friends until I became acquainted with pastors and leaders in the Church of the Nazarene."
Andy and Luz claim that they have lived a simple life, but their lives have been more than just simple.
Both have worked full time on campus while attending undergraduate and graduate school. Andy is ordained and has served as an associate pastor and senior pastor.
One month after their wedding in April 2000, Andy and Luz began a house church in their small apartment. Two years later, with the help of missionary Timothy Kim and the Korean New Life Mission team, they constructed a church building for their rapidly growing congregation.
This year Andy and Luz announced that they were answering a two-year missionary call to work with pastor Shin Min Gyoo and the Sangamdong Church of the Nazarene in Seoul, South Korea. "Besides giving us furnished housing, health care, and a salary," explained Luz, "the church is paying for transportation and the processing of our visa and passports."
As missionaries in South Korea, Andy and Luz are involved in English ministries. Andy is the pastor of Real Peace Makers, an international worship ministry for English speaking foreigners and for Koreans learning English. Luz is teaching English to children in kindergarten and assisting in the English worship service. They both teach English Monday through Friday in the Global Biblical System, a program that uses the Bible to teach English.
When asked about their greatest challenges as missionaries, both Andy and Luz responded, "Learning the language." I understood completely, but smiled, remembering that besides their local dialect, they had already learned two languages: Tagalog and English.
"We have always lived a simple life, never wanting to stand out in the public. We never knew that God would lead us to South Korea," shares Luz. "Now we realize that all along, God was preparing us for this new place with new people, a new culture, and a new language—where nothing is simple."
God calls ordinary people with simple lives to be missionaries.
He calls committed Christians like Andy and Luz who humbly feel that they have nothing great to give to the ministry, but still offer themselves for service. When God calls, He equips. It's just that simple.
Geneva Silvernail is president of Melanesia Nazarene Bible College, Papua New Guinea, and a career missionary on the Asia-Pacific Region.
Holiness Today, Nov/Dec 2009
Please note: This article was originally published in 2009. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.