Enoch Tee is a graphic designer and photographer for World Mission Communication in the Asia-Pacific Region, based in Manila, in the Philippines. He began his assignment in 2014. As part of his service, he develops visual arts pieces such as logos and banners for the region, and also conducts usability testing and research for websites. With his camera he provides photojournalism, including at events.
He says: "These are the behind the scenes work of the Church, but these are also vital to the mission of spreading the Gospel -- telling what the Lord is doing through the Church and telling it in an informative, accurate, honest and compelling way to energize believers and reach non-believers."
In addition, he serves as a worship arts in informal settlement (slum) communities and creative access areas. In this role he "teaches art to children in these communities to identify and support their skills but also as therapy -- teaching them to identify who they are, what community context they are living in and how the church is important in it. The focus is on growing young leaders in the Church from these communities. Because of their struggles early on in life, God will build them up into strong leaders for the Church, so it is important for them to have peace and perspective that art can bring to them and their congregation."
Enoch tells more about how God prepared him to serve as a missionary and what he is doing.
Engage: How did you first recognize God’s call to be involved in missions?
Enoch: In 2012 my pastor and family, Grant Zweigle, in Vancouver First Church, British Columbia, Canada, had confirmed their calling to go on mission in the Philippines. In 2013 I was between jobs and was encouraged by Grant and Brent Cobb, [the former regional director for Asia-Pacific,] who visited my church. When I applied I was told that it could take years to find a suitable mission and that most likely it would be to teach English in Korea.
Within days of my application I was contacted by Todd Aebischer [communications coordinator for Asia-Pacific Region] for a position with World Mission Communications doing design, web, photography, which is exactly my training and vocation. Within a year I raised my funds and arrived in the Philippines before the Zweigles. Grant Zweigle has been my pastor and mentor for nine years, Aisling Zweigle encouraged me to work with children (which is now the heart of my ministry) and Graiden and Abram Zweigle were kids I taught in Sunday School. For them to be with me here is a miracle.
Engage: What is your favorite aspect of what you do in your present assignment?
Working with children: They bring more life and joy to the church, I’ve also always had ease in working with them. In the church in the Rowenas Informal Settlement there is no shortage of kids to play/work with. I taught art there weekly and it became my adopted home church here. When I first arrived I would let them use my camera to take pictures and soon all the kids came to expect it. So when I walked into the community all the kids (maybe 20-30 of them) would rush to welcome me and to use my camera.
Working with my passion for the arts: Growing up I was always creatively minded, going through art school and design school I never would’ve thought that it was something that would take me on mission. I had always considered my skill as something separate from God and my faith. Now it is a daily encouragement that God can use anything for his glory. Creativity is a gift from God and it is what we use to give back to God.
Engage: What are some of the challenges that you face in carrying out your work?
Small cultural differences that throw me off: Being Asian and growing up surrounded by Asian infuences I thought it would lessen my culture shock. Instead it just gave me a different type of culture shock. One example is when I speak English in public. When they see me they think I’m a Filipino, so when I only speak in English they think I’m showing off. Many times I have had to overcome this first impression when meeting new people.
Engage: Please share a story of a significant event or moment that has happened in your current assignment.
While teaching art at a refugee school in a creative access area, I met a 5-year-old boy who was in his first week of school. This was traumatic for him because he had never had any formal education before. It was also traumatic because this was the same week that his father took a second wife, essentially leaving him and his mom. This boy would cry and disrupt class; he would even run out of the school. Because I was teaching art he clung to me because [art] was fun for him and he decided that I was OK. After two weeks of me teaching there, he had calmed down significantly, he wouldn’t cry and would actually laugh and enjoy class. Art can bring peace to children in difficult situations. Furthermore, in his culture they have a very negative and stereotypical view of Christians. At least for this boy he will grow up knowing that the stereotype is wrong because of the Christians running and teaching that school.
Engage: How do you maintain a close relationship with God in the midst of the demands of missionary service?
The World Mission Communications office has daily devotional time in the morning and this really helps to keep my personal devotionals on track. Because we are a communications office we receive and share many uplifting stories and prayer needs from the region, plus all of the workers at WMC are leaders in their local church or even pastors.
Engage: What are the rewards of what you do?
The purpose keeps my encouraged daily. Working with my creativity is always fun and challenging. Working with kids is always joyful.
Engage: What are some aspects of the culture where you live that you have come to love or embrace?
They celebrate everything.
Engage: What do you like to do for fun?
Biking, painting, photography, camping, hiking, kayaking
Engage: What advice would you have for others exploring a possible call to missions, or embarking on their first missionary assignment?
Enoch: Don’t be too strict about your job requirement. Be open to do whatever, whenever and however.