Monday, December 27, 2010

2011: To Bless the Poor Even More

Lee Siew Hua looks at how different talents can contribute to volunteerism

LITTLE Adelyn Koh was laughing and twirling for photojournalist Samuel He’s camera, when I met her a couple of weeks ago.

Though the nine-year-old has unseeing opaque eyes - a rare affliction called Peter’s Anomaly - she was high-spirited and didn’t seem to have a fear of falling or twirling into a wall. How unusual, I thought.

But it struck me later that Adelyn was so normal, too, in the way she wanted to show me her toys, room, everything.

Also like girls her age, she tells her Mum she wants to learn ballet. Somehow ballet has a big fairytale pull for girls the world over, and Adelyn is among them. But then, dreams do not end with disability.

Neither can diseases - or disenfranchisement - squelch the human desire for something a little better in life.

So the 10 people profiled by The Straits Times each represent an unmet need of others in their vulnerable situation.

Whether it’s dentures for an elderly person or a flat for a child with no permanent address, their Christmas wishes are unusual, mainly because most have teeth and proper shelter.
Receiving dentures, a flat, or childcare, is of course more complex than getting a gift that can be bought and wrapped.

Yet these wishes are not outside the realm of possibility, in a country as endowed with talent as Singapore. In fact, the nation takes special pride in nurturing its own talent and also attracting bright sparks from other lands.

As Make-A-Wish Foundation or Boys’ Brigade will tell you, successful wish granting involves as much heart as tactical partnership. For that, they rope in people with the right talents, or resources.

So Make-A-Wish has corralled owners of luxury cars to rev up in a convoy to the home of four-year-old leukaemia patient Justin Lim, who wished to drive fast cars.

And the Prison Fellowship Singapore, which has ukulele and dance practitioners in its pool of volunteers, asked them to teach these skills to children of inmates and uplift them through the arts.

Mr Patrick Koh, 34, a Boys’ Brigade volunteer since he was 13, says it well and simply: "As years went by, I began to realise that helping people could be very easy."
Easy, when a talent or two is shared, beginning at Christmas.

So timely. I was reminded that I still haven't managed to get back into regular community service for our own poor in Singapore.

But thank God for Ps Lawrence who kept on faithfully reminding the congregation of the importance of community service, of serving the poor, during his sermons last time. Over a long period of time, I think these values that were taught slowly crept into my heart. :) Hee. I should find Ps Lawrence and thank him personally one day for faithfully preaching - and living - a life like that. And of course, sister Christine who also serves very lovingly and enthusiastically in the pastoral ministry - the JEDI group, which is a great inspiration to the whole church! She and her husband are living proof that just because you are leading a pastoral group doesn't mean that you therefore must cut down on community care.

On the contrary, true discipleship inevitably produces compassion for the poor. If you care not for the poor, you care not for their Maker, and therefore you are a hypocrite, a fake disciple. (Just check the Bible out... it's very fierce on this.)

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Proverbs 28
A ruler who oppresses the poor
is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.

Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor
amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

Galatians 2:10
All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
God remembers even good non-Christians who care for the poor!
Acts 10:30-31
Cornelius [the Roman centurion] answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.
Haa.... I guess I feel very strongly about this. But yup...

Mm. Dunno whether to share this, but think it'll be good to... as a testimony... a testimony of how I experienced God's pleasure when I gave...

I've been praying and asking God to help me be a blessing to my maid, who is also a fellow Christian. So one day, she was telling me that her daughter back home managed to get a desktop computer... but there was no monitor included. So I reckon she got it cheap cheap. Now it's not cheap, a computer, but can be so useful for education.

So... some time later, I got a new monitor for my Mac Mini. Initially, I had been planning to hook up two monitors to my Mac Mini so that I can do my work more efficiently. But then I remembered about my maid, and this verse from Luke 3 came to mind:

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Wow. I could imagine John the Baptist pointing a thick finger at me, giving me the indignant stare of an Old Testament prophet, declaring with bouncing beard and flying spittle: "Anyone who has TWO monitors should share with the one who has none!"

Whoa. I wasn't about to ignore the good prophet... in case he popped up in the middle of my Christmas Eve like a Dickensian story gone wrong... Haha...

So yup, gave my second monitor to my maid. Thank God she was very blessed. So have a clearer conscience now haha, and am really glad I did a little something. And yes, seriously, do I really need so many monitors when someone else doesn't have?

Yeah... ha... but God knows I have given out of my surplus. That is so little. It is nothing, really.

And it is so simple to volunteer. I want to resume my storytelling volunteering. And also see how to use my mime skills to bless the poor children. Perhaps we can initiate a community care Club in HopeKids as well soon, God willing! :) To help nurture in our young ones a love, care and compassion for the poor... not to become materialistic as some of them already have become.

So much to do. But reminded how Jesus used the disciples' measly loaves and fishes to feed two crowds of over 5000 people and 4000 people, at different times. :)

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