AUTHOR: Natalie Mattes, International Apprenticeship Director

When Go To Nations leadership called to tell me that they wanted me to attend the Leadership Development Forum, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I felt blessed to be invited to what I felt like was an important training. They must have seen something in me that they wanted to see developed. On the other hand, I didn’t know why they wanted me to come, I felt like nothing I had started in Iloilo City, Philippines had succeeded. I had been there for a couple of years and I had nothing to show for it, nothing in the natural anyway. Our church plant was smaller than when we had started it a year ago, the children’s program and tutoring had stopped, and the missionary internship I had been assistant director of had moved to Thailand. Why would I go to a leadership training, I was a leader of nothing? However, I decided to step out in faith and go anyway. 

The actual Leadership Development Forum experience was amazing. We had the full attention of our leaders and I felt they really believed in me. They gave us so much of their time. Through teaching and praying for us, they imparted things to us that had taken years for them to gain. I felt empowered as they listened to the dreams that God had started to develop in my heart. When they asked us to write a five-year plan, I asked the Lord for vision for my life since everything I had done up to that point had seemingly failed. He was faithful and started to talk to me about empowering Filipino missionaries. The leadership began to help me develop a plan on how to walk out the vision that God had placed in my heart.

During the Leadership Development Forum, Craig Kuehn, our Asia Regional Director, told me that if I wanted to empower Filipino missionaries, I should join a missions conference planned and run by Filipinos. So I made plans to go. I came back to the Philippines with an expectant heart but unsure of what the next step would be. We had discussed a lot of different options but it had to be a move of God, and that’s exactly what happened. At the missions conference one of Go To Nations’s Filipino missionaries, Pastor Ariel Acuna, was speaking about the team of Filipinos that was growing in Thailand. They were doing outreaches to the surrounding nations of Myanmar and Laos as well as reaching the nation of Thailand. Immediately it felt like God gave me my next step. We could start a missionary internship for Filipinos that would train them to go to Thailand to work with this team that was already forming. It would be similar to Timothy Internship Program, our missionary internship for Western missionaries but it would be adapted to fit Filipinos. After discussing this with Pastor Ariel we decided with the momentum from the conference we would go ahead and start within the next couple of months. After overcoming some obstacles, we were able to start the first Affiliate Internship Program with eight Filipinos that felt called to missions. I am so happy to say that four out of the eight our serving in Thailand with Pastor Ariel and his wife Paz and the other four are raising support to join them in the future. I thank God for leaders that believed in me and empowered me to go where God was calling me to go.