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A Mission of Solidarity: Adam Shaw in the Philippines

by Julia Kayser

 
Adam marches in protest of the big mining industry.
Adam marches in protest of the big mining industry.
Image by: Courtesy of Adam Shaw
Source: Missionary stories

Under a hot and humid December sky, 800 Filipino protesters were marching. Some farmed rice paddies for a living, some fished, and some scraped by in the big cities. Others represented churches, nongovernmental organizations, and political parties. Children and old women walked side by side. But one protestor was conspicuously different from the rest. Not only did he stand head and shoulders above his companions--he had white skin and auburn hair.

Adam Shaw had been in Mindanao for only three short months when he found himself marching 150 kilometers from Digos to Marbel. He came to the Philippines after finishing college and committed to spending the next three years of his life as a Mission Intern for The United Methodist Church. Instead of taking an expensive language class when he arrived, he took three short immersion programs to familiarize himself with problems facing farmers, fisher folk, and the urban poor. Now he found himself protesting an industry that harmed all of them: big mining by foreign companies.

Adam works on educational projects and flood-relief efforts for an organization called Initiatives for Peace. His work has taken him all over the island. In every community, there has been at least one person who spoke enough English for rudimentary conversation. Still, Adam had to connect with most people without any words in common. He soon discovered a local card game that everyone knew how to play. By inviting locals to join him for a game, he realized that he could defeat the language barrier and break the ice. Now he carries four essential items with him always: bottled water, his Bible, toilet paper, and his worn deck of cards. On the march, though, Adam was embarrassed by how much he carried--it was mostly mineral water--while the other protesters marched with only the clothes on their backs.

Along the way, the protesters held rallies in towns and heard speeches from local leaders as more people joined their ranks. By the end, the march would have more than 2,000 protesters. Each evening they gathered for singing, dancing, and cultural presentations. The first night took Adam by surprise: as the only non-Filipino present, he was expected to perform something for the group. His blistered feet protested, but he rose and sang an old Irish folk song called "Fiddler's Green." "They gave me an ovation," Adam says.

In that moment, he didn't know that he would sleep only two hours that night. He didn't know that he would complete 90 kilometers of the march before becoming too exhausted to continue. He didn't know that he would spend New Year's Eve in the hospital fighting an amoeba.

What Adam did know was that his Filipino friends had accepted his gifts of presence and solidarity. These are powerful gifts. He has experienced transformation not only within local communities, but in his own faith. He says that he now experiences "less segregation between spiritual life and daily life." The two must have fallen into step with each other on the march from Digos to Marbel.

Support Adam's ministry of solidarity by donating to Advance #3021347. Your generosity can further economic justice and promote peace.

Your local church may choose to enter into a multi-year Covenant Relationship with Adam Shaw,  or other United Methodist missionaries, for ongoing support of their work. For further information, please contact:

The Advance
General Board of Global Ministries
475 Riverside Dr, #350
New York, NY 10115
Phone: 212-870-3718
Fax: 212-870-3775

Email:
covenant@gbgm-umc.org

Web: advancinghope.org

You can make gifts to support the mission work of Adam Shaw, by making a donation through The Advance. The Advance is an accountable, designated giving arm of The United Methodist Church that ensures 100% of each gift reaches its intended mission or ministry.

Make a secure gift online: Visit Global Ministries Online Giving

Checks may be written to 'Advance GCFA' and placed in collection plates at United Methodist churches, or mailed directly to:

Advance GCFA,
P.O. Box 9068, GPO,
New York, NY 10087-9068.

Credit card donations may be made by calling
(888) 252-6174.

Please note on your check the name and The Advance Number of the missionary you are supporting:

Adam Shaw, Advance Number: 3021347
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Date posted: Feb 29, 2012