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In August, The Servants of the Word appointed Jim Orbe as an elder and member of the assembly of brothers that takes governing responsibility for our brotherhood. The first Filipino brother to take on that role, Jim has a special concern for our brothers in formation.

Jim OrbeAmong our Servants of the Word in Manila, Jim is known as “Mr. Ako.” Ako is Tagalog for “me.” “Mr. Me” might sound like an egotistical moniker, but in Jim’s case it signifies just the opposite. Whenever there’s a call for a volunteer – to speak in a seminar for one of our associated ministries, to help out in post-disaster relief work (an all-too-common need in these calamity-prone islands), to clean up after an event, to take someone to the airport at 4:00 AM – Jim’s hand goes up: Ako. In the midst of a meeting, when a difficult or inconvenient or uncomfortable task arises that cries out for someone to take responsibility for it and heads drop and feet begin to shuffle, Mr. Ako will invariably step up.

In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, Jim plays a vital role in our mission. As Director of the Manila sector of Christ’s Youth in Action (CYA), an outreach to university students active in about half a dozen universities in the Philippine capital, he oversees our largest evangelistic outreach, preaching and teaching God’s word among students, training them to take on leadership, and equipping other members of the staff to do the same. He also serves as a member of the regional youth committee for The Sword of the Spirit in Asia, and as a coordinator in Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, the local branch of The Sword of the Spirit.

Jim holds an M.A. in Religious Education from the Loyola School of Theology, and his love for and constant reference to the scriptures is well-known in CYA. But Jim leads as much by example as by instruction. Ask his co-workers what characterizes Jim, and they’ll point to his discipline, his dependability, his steadiness. “If he says he’ll do it, it’s done,” says Lorna Campos, a senior staffer for CYA. “And he’s also a good listener,” she adds. “When I’m under pressure or perplexed about something, he helps me keep my balance.”

Jim is especially effective in working with young men, normally a difficult field to cultivate in evangelism. “He’s inspired me to evangelize men and taught me how to help them encounter the Lord and choose to follow him,” says J.R. Quiring, who leads CYA at the University of the Philippines.

Jim can speak from his own experience about making that choice. In the early ’90s, at the young age of twenty-three, he was head of sales for a small but highly successful company providing industrial hardware to contracting firms.

His professional prospects were bright indeed. Then a couple of clients invited him to a retreat of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon, a movement of single professionals. “I encountered Jesus Christ in a powerful way, and that changed me,” he says. Soon after, Jim got to know The Servants of the Word and quickly found his spiritual home with the brothers.

The prayer and confident hope of The Servants of The Word is that Mr. Ako will continue to inspire others by his example as well as his word.


– John Yocum


This article is from our Christmas 2009 Newsletter: View Entire Newsletter (requires Acrobat Reader)

John Yocum
John is a lifelong committed brother from Jackson, Michigan. After having spent 15 years in the UK and 7 years in the Philippines, he returned to the US in 2011. He works with communities across the region. John has a Doctorate in Theology from The University of Oxford. He has taught Theology at Oxford, at Loyola School of Theology in Manila and at the Catholic Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.
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  • Vincent Mascarenhas

    It was a privilege to have met Jim, in Oct 2010. However I was not aware of him being known as Mr. Ako. This is something I could learn from Jim…..his spirit of service and reliability. It is wonderful to know that he is an elder…. Hope to see you in India soon, Jim.

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