Africa University graduate, Albert Longe, serves as a young adult missionary in the Philippines.
Be a Good Friend to the World At Any Cost
Albert Longe travels from the DRC to the Philippines as a Mission Intern
By Julia Kayser
Albert Longe, a General Board of Global Ministries Mission Intern, already knows some of what he will share from his experience in the Philippines when he returns to his home in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Raised in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Albert became a Mission Intern, a young adult missionary, after graduating from Africa University in Zimbabwe with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. Each Mission Intern commits to 18 months of service abroad and then to 18 months of service in their home country. The rationale is that the Mission Interns will be able immediately to put it into action at home what they learned abroad.
Through his work in the Philippines with The Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation, Inc., he has come to understand that both the public and private sectors need to “not just dole out programs… but rather work with the people so that development becomes locally driven.”
On a personal level, being a Mission Intern has changed and deepened his faith. He has adopted one university lecturer’s mantra as his own: “Truth is unavoidable and stubborn. You have to say it, regardless of threats and challenges, because that’s the only way you can move ahead. … Only a good friend will tell you the truth, so be a good friend to the world at any cost.”
Based in Manila, Albert is a coordinator and liaison between Kapatiran-Kaunlaran and its partners. The foundation is a United Methodist-founded organization aiming to alleviate poverty through education and to provide disaster relief. Its partners include Smokey Mountain Helping Aroma Organization, Sentro ng Kapatiran ni Ka Eddie Guazon and many local churches. Among them are St. Peter's United Methodist Church in Navotas, Kamuning United Methodist Church and Central United Methodist Church in Manila.
Albert spends most of his time in meetings with these partners, and in training sessions to help local people build their capacity, one of the best ways to ensure sustainable development. Education gives people the tools they need to escape vicious cycles of poverty and injustice.
He also learns from the people the foundation serves and has “come to understand that, indeed, mission is about being present in communities where God is already at work, and not bringing a foreign God to the people,” he said.
Albert has seen the Manila North Cemetery, home to 3,500 people, who live on the pennies that richer families pay them to keep graves clean and decorated. He’s visited the Smokey Mountain garbage dump, which is so large that it looks like a mountain, with trees growing out of it and people living on its slopes. He’s also spent time with the urban poor on a basketball court that 70 displaced families call home.
“There is great human need in some communities that you would imagine are non-existent,” he wrote on his blog.
However, he also sees remarkable resilience and initiative.
For example, on the crowded basketball court, a group of young adults has taken the initiative to record and distribute original songs that educate their peers about drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, early pregnancy and other issues. “The commitment that these people are showing for their own welfare is a great testimony to what God is doing,” he blogged.
Still, for many of these bright and passionate youth, there is no clear path out of poverty. And, on a national scale, the Philippines is always developing, but never developed. This is why Albert sees a need to “update the development paradigm” to make development plans locally driven.
Albert sees the Mission Intern program as a good investment for The United Methodist Church, because it builds knowledge and focuses on sustainable development.