Devorah Umipig-Julian is a missionary with Tte Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving in Tokyo, Japan, as a social worker for the Christian Coalition for Refugees and Migrant Workers (CCRMW).
Debbie, as she prefers to be called, has responsibilities that include extending crisis intervention to refugee applicants and migrant families, over-all facilitation of case work, visitation to police and immigration detention centers and hospitals, establishing work relations with government and private (NGO) offices, other welfare agencies and local churches. She is actively involved with the Ushiku Menkai Network, a network of NGOs in Tokyo that visit detention centers where cases of human rights violations and physical abuse among detainees are discussed and given appropriate action such as lobbying, petitioning, and dialogue.
Ms. Umipig-Julian organized and conducts Bible study and a prayer circle once a week in her home with women migrants living in the neighborhood. Along with her husband Ronald, Debbie stays involved in serving the homeless in Kangawa District by facilitating the distribution of food and clothing for foreign migrant workers and families with special needs. Both are involved in the life of their local church in music ministry, teaching children’s Sunday school and Summer Vacation Bible School, preaching when the pastors are on vacation, and other capacities as needed.
“Years of ministry to migrants and refugees has taught me much and given me insight into many biblical lessons. One of them is from the Old Testament that teaches us a theology of welcome. From the beginning, in the Torah, God says, 'For the Lord your God is the God of gods. Who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends…the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him/her food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt'." (Deuteronomy 10: 17-19)
"I do not believe we are politically defiant by helping them while struggling without legal documents to reside in Japan. What I do know is that God’s mandate is for the church to accept others as Christ has accepted us. In other words, God loves the immigrants among us, and we are called to love them as well. Our duty as a church is not to judge migrants and refugees but to love them, to become arms of Christ, not the hands of tyranny. This is our prophetic and Christian duty. This is my personal experience. The stories of faith they share make God real and our mercy right.”
A native of the Philippines, Debbie was the department head for WECCEI (Women’s Ecumenical Center for Cooprative Education, Inc.) in Quezon City, Philippines from 1994-2000, project coordinator of the Puno Foundation, Inc. in Quezon City from 1991-1994, and a social worker with the Women and Family Development program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation, Inc. (KKFI) in Sampaloc, Manila from 1989-1991. She has Bachelor of Science in Social Work from the Philippines Christian University in Manila and Masters in Social Work Administration and Supervision from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.
Debbie and Ronald are the parents of two sons, Matt Deuel and Josh Rainiel. Ronald works at the Yokahama Union Church pre-school, is a Volunteer–in-Mission, and works as the layout artist for two major newsletters, the NCCJ’s “Japan Christian Activity News” (JCAN) and the Kyodan’s newsletter known as KNL.
Missionary code: 13967Z
Last update: 6/08
Other missionaries working in | Japan | Asia-Pacific |
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Country Profile on | Japan |