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Meet a Few of the Authors of Voices Rising

Each of the contributing authors are connected to the ministries of Servant Partners.  Read about three of the authors, their work with SP, and their chapters featured in Voices Rising.

Contributing Authors:

Robyn G. Barron | Jennifer Chou Blue | Rachel Christine Braithwaite Davies |Teresa Ku-Borden | Shabrae Jackson Krieg |Jennifer Chi Lee | Annabel Mendoza Leyva | Michelle Kao Nakphong | Beauty Gunda Ndoro | Mini Mathai Palmer | Claudia Salazar | Janet Balasiri Singleterry | Emma Silva Smith | Grace Weng

Called to Remain

Emma grew up in the railroad squatter community of Balic-Balic and returned to Manila’s slums to bring the hope of Jesus to those without hope. She has been with Servant Partners for fifteen years and serves as co-team leader for Servant Partners Manila, the Philippines. Emma helped plant Botocan Bible Christian Fellowship, a vibrant church in the squatter community where she lives with her husband Aaron and their two boys, Zach and Ezra. She is actively discipling teenagers and women and has seen the Holy Spirit transform lives. She has an MA in Christian Counseling and is a visiting professor at Asian Theological Seminary for the Masters in Transformational Urban Leadership program. Emma also serves her community as a counselor focusing on violence against women and children and as an instructor for the high school equivalency exam preparation course.

In her chapter, “Called to Remain,” Emma recounts her life growing up in a squatter community, the path that brought her the conviction to remain to serve in the slums of Manila, and the power and impact her own background and experiences brought to her ministry. Rather than fleeing challenging circumstances, Emma extends the invitation for anyone from an urban poor community to consider remaining there, and for all to remain present to the work of Jesus at the margins of society.

“I grew up in the slums, I have lived in middle-class America, and I went back to living in the slums again because of God’s calling in my life. I have returned to the poverty of my childhood in order to proclaim the hope I have in Jesus because I know how it is to be poor and not have Jesus.” —Emma Smith, Voices Rising

From Zimbabwe to the World

Originally from Harare, Zimbabwe, Beauty Gunda Ndoro has worked in urban poor communities for over twelve years. In 2007 she joined Servant Partners as a missionary with her husband Phillip, son Tadi, and daughter Tino, moving with her family to Mexico in 2009 and to Nicaragua in 2015. Beauty enjoys advocating for women and other vulnerable populations and wants to see justice for them. Walking alongside the hurting to facilitate the process of healing is one of the ways she uses her gifts.

Beauty’s chapter, “From Zimbabwe, to the World,” follows the courageous choices this wife and mother made, crossing physical, language, and cultural barriers as a missionary sent from Africa to Latin America. She traces the complex history of missionaries in Africa, her own calling to serve in a holistic, incarnational ministry, and her experience as an African woman in Latin America. Beauty’s story inspires confidence for her beloved sisters and brothers in Christ answering the call to missions as minorities on the field.

“God’s love penetrates everywhere. One does not need a certain status to be qualified by God. God’s love knows no color, race, gender, nationality or class.” —Beauty Gunda Ndoro, Voices Rising


Escaping and Returning to Sal Si Puedes

Annabel Mendoza Leyva is a native of Northern California and long-time resident of east San José where she currently lives with her husband Natanael and her two children, Emily and Nathanael. Since 2014, Annabel has been working with Servant Partners in the Mayfair neighborhood of the San José site, first as a contract employee and volunteer, and now as staff. Currently, she is a board member for San José Bridge Communities and continues to work serving the urban communities of Santa Clara County.

In her chapter, “Escaping and Returning to Sal Si Puedes,” Annabel recounts her journey escaping Mayfair, the neighborhood where she grew up, only to return to redefine what it means to be an urban minister. Annabel embraces the challenges of her youth and her unique social location as a Latina woman to infuse deeper understanding into her work and ministry in San José.

“The desire not to return to Mayfair was only increased by a message I internalized at some point—I have no idea when—that I was not good enough to be used by God because of my background. Because I was a woman. Because I was Hispanic. Because I was from Mayfair. The truth was far from that. In reality, my heritage, including my culture and where I am from, is a gift that can allow me to see and understand my world in a unique way. Because I am from what some might consider the margins of my society, I can understand how the good news of Jesus is particularly and powerfully given for those on the margins, and even the particular culture that infuses the margins of Mayfair.” —Annabel Mendoza Leyva, Voices Rising

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