Posted on April 24, 2024 Embracing Asian American Heritage in God’s Mission
Embracing Asian American Heritage in God’s Mission

Embracing Asian American Heritage in God’s Mission

For AmyEstelle Trout, IM global servant in Southeast Asia, serving in God’s mission is so much more than just a calling to spread the gospel. It is also an opportunity to explore her ethnic heritage in a unique way and show her children the native culture of their grandparents in a fully immersed experience.

As an American-born Filipino growing up in San Francisco, AmyEstelle was surrounded by a diverse community including Black, Latino and Chinese cultures. However, with the Philippines underrepresented, she struggled with what it meant to be Filipino. As immigrants from the Philippines, her parents had faced   as they strove to fit in with the American dream while still maintaining their Filipino heritage. AmyEstelle’s church community was vital in helping her shape her ethnic, cultural and Christian identity. While studying social work at Biola, she further explored her faith and American Christianity. She realized that she had to decide what to value in both American and Filipino cultures to sculpt her own blended identity. Faith is the strongest point of her foundation, and her identity is combined with who she is in Christ along with cultural nuances.

AmyEstelle never imagined she’d marry a Caucasian until she met Aaron, an artist and Southern boy from Florida, at a church Christmas service. He surprised her by showing up at her family’s New Year’s Eve gathering and quickly endeared himself with his excitement over the exotic Filipino food. As he embraced her Filipino culture, they fell in love, married and would eventually become parents to Amaryn Brooke, Amos Job, and canine Trixie.

In 2019, while visiting her family farm on an island in the Philippines, AmyEstelle heard God telling her she would be living in this region. As she pondered this, Amaryn came up and pointedly asked, “When are we moving here?” Surprised, AmyEstelle asked, “Did God tell you that?” Amaryn countered, “Yeah, did He tell you?” Clearly God had spoken! When they returned to the U.S., their family committed to fasting and praying. Shortly after, they lost money due to fraud in their bank account – such a discouragement. But then a woman at church gave them a gift she had been holding onto for a year – $10,000! The woman explained, “The Lord said he had something for you and told me to wait.” After several more unexpected, God-inspired donations, a pastor friend connected them to International Ministries, and they were eventually commissioned in June 2022.

The first year for the Trouts has centered around learning the Filipino language and culture while building relationships. For AmyEstelle and the kids, this is an opportunity to explore deeper their Filipino heritage and for Aaron a chance to learn more about the culture he married into. They all are leaning into the experience. Both two-year-old Amos and Amaryn have adapted to the Filipino accents. AmyEstelle and Aaron have had mixed responses from locals – Aaron is afforded grace as the endearing “weird white guy,” while some natives wonder, “Why are you broken?” of AmyEstelle whom they assumed would already speak her ethnic language fluently.

Overall, the Filipino people are loving, helpful, and appreciative of the Trout family’s eagerness to learn. In a culture that operates at a much slower pace, chance encounters (like a broken-down car) become fruitful conversations leading to friendships, learning opportunities, and business networking. They’ve made several friends with market sellers and tricycle drivers who have become assets to their ministry.

Part of their ministry includes running the 10-acre Tatay’s Farm which currently supports 20 churches by providing food directly from the farm. It has also opened job opportunities and life skills training for some locals. Half of the yield goes to the pastors and their families while the other half is sold to maintain the farm. By focusing on these basic survival needs, the Trouts build relationships that lead to opportunities for evangelism.

The future is full of promise! Their house provides space for neighbors, friends, and classmates to hang out and fellowship. Aaron continues to engage with people in the university’s art community using their shared interest in art to form connections. They are looking forward to hosting discipleship camps and retreats for kids and young adults to continue building relationships through everyday interactions. They also want to equip pastors and provide discipleship as well as bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians by helping them overcome their fears and connect with each other.

If you visit the Trout’s home, you’ll find a beautiful blend of Filipino and American cultures seasoned with the love of Christ (and a hearty serving of lumpia or lasagna). May God continue to bless their home, family, and ministry.

To learn more about IM Global Servants AmyEstelle and Aaron Trout’s ministry, please visit their ministry page here.