The recently concluded 40 Days of Community heralded a huge amount of testimonies and reflections. Here are first-hand accounts from brothers and sisters whose lives have been enriched even as they enriched the lives of others in the church and in our communities...
by Wallis Sultan
I was blessed by the daily devotions every morning. At the end of each devotional reading, there was a point to ponder, a memory verse, or a challenge to love Godâ€™s family more. I was also challenged to reach out, to fellowship and serve more passionately. God would impressed truths to my heart and I would share these with my cell group members encouraging, challenging and spurring them on to do good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
Visitation to Elderly House on 9th August We had 6 cell members coming together and we split into 2 teams to visit 2 elderly people. When my team reached the place, a single elderly lady Mdm C was so delighted to see us. The home was indeed a small unit, but the place was very neat. We presented to her the NTUC voucher ($40 worth) and she was grateful receiving it. But as she shared more of her life, her tears kept falling down her face. She has been suffering from loneliness for these many years. She finds that her life is just drifting by, without any meaning at all. She mentioned that she was only looking forward to living till 76 years old and then to die. More tears flowed down her cheeks as she shared that during her free moments, she would travel by herself to the beach and read the newspapers and just wait for time to pass. Hock Hui (one of the cell members) offered her a contact where she can be in the company of elderly folks who meet regularly to eat, visit one another and organize outings. It was something that cheered Mdm C and she was so thankful. As I reflect on this visit, I now understand that loneliness is a reality that can really hurt on a daily basis. We who are blessed with family and friends take such blessings for granted. A one-time visit may not suffice for these elderly people, who yearn for company and friendship. As I discussed with Pastor Wai Ching, I felt there should be more follow ups and visits on a regular basis. I hope that there will be people in the church rising up to form a â€œCommunity Outreach/Needy Family Interest Groupâ€? ministering to these people on a regular basis.
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” -Matthew 20:28 Ministry Fair I was the contact person for the booth promoting Grace Communities, Although I have little experience regarding designing brochures and posters, let alone decorating the booth on the day itself, nevertheless I availed myself. During the weeks of preparation, I was really convinced that we are definitely better together in service. I saw how the church members with different giftings, coming together to offer help in little ways (eg art and crafts, gathering photos and testimonies, designing brochures and printing, manpower to man the booth at GI and GII concurrently). On the actual day, even brothers and sisters from other booths came to offer help with the booth. It was indeed heartwarming to see the church in unity coming together to make the ministry fair a success. It was such an encouraging sight to see many people signing-up, offering up their “5 loaves and 2 fishes” to serve in a ministry. There were people desiring to be in a cell group, offering to be follow-up disciplers, opening up their homes for new cell groups, etc. Praise God! At the end of the ministry fair I remembered believing that it is indeed a privilege to serve the Lord. “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28)
by Bee Har
:4 on the ministry fair. The ministry fair was effective in showcasing the many ministries in Grace Assembly and the opportunities available for individual members in the church to step up to serve. Before the fair, I had entertained thoughts of signing up to serve in the CAM ministry as a Praise Visual projectionist. However, I kept putting it off and was held back by my own lack of inertia. Through the fair, I was challenged to break out of my sluggishness and put aside the excuses I had, and I signed up! Also I found out through the fair that the YAYP service is looking at grooming a group of befrienders to welcome new friends and visitors to our services. I could immediately identify with the need for such a group of people to represent the YAYP service in welcoming others into our midst, Guess what? I signed up for this area of service as well! I think the ministry fair was helpful for a relative newbie like me to get a quick overall picture of the varied ministries and areas to serve in church. It is certainly a much more effective way to encourage members of the church to step up and partake in serving one another.
â€œI think the ministry fair was helpful for a relative newbie like me to get a quick overall picture of the varied ministries and areas to serve in church.â€?
Universal Studios Singapore An outing organised by GRACE AG that RCSS clients would fondly remember.
a day out at the Universal Studios Singapore.
by Jasmin Low
â€œThe children knew that we were Christians and despite not sharing the gospel, I believe that through this activity, we have surely sowed seeds of love.â€? Being able to interact with the children was a good experience. I have been involved in community projects in the past but this was the first time I spent the whole day with low-income families. It was a privilege to be able to spend time communicating with, and getting to know them more. The team was willing to compromise and give in to one another, even the children, when deciding on which rides to take or activities to participate in. We practiced selflessness by putting others before us and through this, blessed one another. Taking care of the children also helped me to practice patience. The children knew that we were Christians and despite not sharing the gospel, I believe that through this activity, we have surely sowed seeds of love. The trip to Universal Studios with the two kids was really an experience like no other.
“They touched my heart and made me want to give and bless them even more in by Adler Koh any way that I can.” The trip to Universal Studios Singapore (USS) on Sat, 13 August was a 40 Days of Community (40 DOC) initiative. In collaboration with REACH Family Service Centre, 65 members of Grace accompanied 21 low-income families to the theme park. We were in a team of 3 people accompanying and interacting with the children.
This experience is quite different from the other ministries that I am involved in. In those ministries, I interact with believers in the church. This experience gave me a chance to step out of my comfort zone and interact with pre-believers for the whole day, to show them the kindness and love that I have received in Church.
Hearing the children’s stories about their lives, their living environment and family situation left the most impact on me. It caused me to look at my life. Have I been taking things for granted? Regrettably, I would say yes. Things that I had while they did not were many. I learnt to appreciate the little things that I have even more through this experience.
The prayer needs for these two kids would be for financial stability in their family and also that these kids would eventually know Christ and accept him as their Lord.
The innocence on the children’s faces brought a smile to my face. Seeing them enjoy the time at Universal Studios made me happy too and was a respite from the hectic pace of school life. They touched my heart and made me want to give and bless them even more in any way that I can.
by Ps Kieran Chew
:9 my reflections...
I am thankful to God for helping us to pull this through. This is one of the biggest projects that Grace Assembly has embarked together. It was wonderful to see the whole church aligned through this campaign. In fact, it was historic to have everyone read the same devotion, discussed the same Bible lesson, memorized the same verse and acted on the same sermon. I am deeply warmed by the excitement and renewed passion that members had experienced. Indeed, we are better together. We knew earlier that Ps. Calvin would be returning to Grace. During a special planning retreat in July last year, he tasked me to look into one of Rick Warren’s 40 Days Campaigns for 2011. I spent the next 2 months trying to convince him to run it in 2012 instead. But it was not to be so. So, the plan was fixed. I knew it was a humongous task. It was also frightening as I absolutely had no idea how to get it started. The natural thing to do was to purchase all the different campaigns materials. After pouring through them, I found that the “40 Days of Community” would be the most suitable. The next step then was to fix the actual dates, preaching themes and to clear the church’s calendar during the campaign. This was communicated to the staff in September and to the Grace Group leaders in November. The next vital step was to form the main working team. It became apparent that we needed a “full-time” team due to the scope of the work and the need to communicate across congregations and ministries. I remembered spending time in prayer on this. To me, this was the single most important component to determine if I were to have a good time or hell.
This was also most critical for a successful campaign. After consulting with Ps. Calvin, we decided on the composition of the team. We had our convening meeting in early February. After the initial apprehension and confusion, the team began to align as meetings intensified from fortnightly to weekly. We kept an open culture and tried to conduct all our meetings in a light-hearted manner. There were of course times of tension and differing opinions. But the key factor that helped us gelled as a team was the extra time spent in prayer together. We prayed half an hour before every meeting and crafted another half hour slot each day to pray together. This made the difference because it had to be a spiritual campaign. We knew that the lay leadership of the church had to grasp the big picture as well as understand the intricacies of the campaign. We launched a special website, printed brochures and conducted leaders’ meetings in April, May and July. However, it was also important to model the values of the campaign to them. I thank God for a suggestion to embark on a Staff Campaign in April and May. This enabled us understand the inner-workings and provided inspiration for us to challenge the church during the main campaign. The J333 prayer meetings also helped to lay the spiritual foundations for the campaign.
I deeply appreciate the contribution of every team member and their sub-committees. I saw their tireless efforts to organize and motivate. I know many of them spent hours agonizing in prayer for wisdom and God’s leading. I am also thankful for the support and contributions of every church member. The campaign was a great success because everyone chose to be involved. This campaign has provided a glimpse of what God can do when the whole church is aligned and renewed. We are thankful for all the good reports and great statistics of what God has helped us accomplished. Yes, my faith has been stretched and my dependency on God tested. However, the most poignant moment for me was not in the victories of what we had done but rather how a life had been touched. During the Staff Home Improvement Project, my team was assigned to Mr. Ng’s home in Mei Ling Street. We cleaned up his home, had lunch and prayed together with him. He passed away tragically in a fire two weeks later. Reflecting back, I thank God for the opportunity to minister to him in simple ways. His was a life full of setbacks, hang-ups and sorrow. Through this campaign, we were able to extend God’s love and blessings in his final days here on earth. I am sure he is now cheering us on in our journey of faith on this side of heaven.
moments of blessing
:11 REACH Community Services Society (RCSS) was glad to be in partnership with Grace in the recent 40 Days of Community. As the local mission arm of Grace, RCSS is one of the beneficiaries of Project Neighbour which include Home Improvement Project, Food Collection, Family Outing at Universal Studios Singapore. The preparation and coordination work for all three were challenging. The tiredless effort put in by Pastors Peck Yin and Aw Wai Ching and the team of planning committee was highly commendable. They tried all ways and means to recruit volunteers and identify donors for the HIP and USS outing. The staff at RCSS were grateful for what they have done to make Project Neighbour a memorable experience for all, especially for the clients of RCSS.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” Though the projects have completed, we believe we have sown the seeds of love. 9 August 2011: A memorable birthday Mr L lives alone in a one-room rental flat. He has not been able to work for the last few years due to physical disability. However, he has an optimistic outlook in life and maintains a disciplined lifestyle. Every day, he follows a scheduled time for prayer, laundry and cleaning his flat. On National Day, he welcomed the HIP volunteers cheerfully to his home. The volunteers helped cleaned his flat and rearranged his furniture. They also took the initiative to change several faulty items, although these were not requested for. The volunteers even surprised him with a solid bed with mattress and a brand new cupboard!
by Ng Ai Ling (Executive Director, RCSS)
They shared the Good News with Mr L and prayed with him. He was greatly appreciative of the enthusiasm and assistance rendered by the volunteers. In his words to his counsellor at RCSS, “not only have the volunteers improved my home, they have also gone the extra mile to make this National Day a memorable birthday for me!”
Here are some of the highlights: 9 August 2011: A touch of thoughtfulness
13 August 2011: The day when dreams come true
Mr. S lives with his wife and a school-going daughter in a three-room flat. Mrs. S is the sole breadwinner as Mr. S has a chronic debilitating illness. A large team of volunteers was mobilized to help this family paint their flat. The team worked very hard throughout the day to cover the furniture and household appliances, cleaned the floors and walls, painted the doors, the walls and ceiling of all the rooms and kitchen. A number of individuals also paid special attention in mending cracks and holes.
When RCSS caseworker Michelle first heard about the family service centreâ€™s low income families would be going to the Universal Studios Singapore, she was overjoyed. She knew it was a rare opportunity. She broke the news to her financial needy client, Mdm M on the phone. Mdm M wept. She was very moved by the generosity of the volunteers to enable her children to have a day of fun. Initially Mdm M was in a dilemma as she was only allowed to send 2 children for the outing. When more sponsored tickets were available, her third child could also share in the fun
By the end of the day, the RCSS caseworker was very impressed by the meticulous effort and dedication shown by the Grace volunteers. Mr. and Mrs. S were deeply appreciative of the thoughtful, excellent work done by the team. Now the home has a brand new look!
On the day of the outing, Michelle was delighted seeing the three children having a great time. The Polaroid photos they took could not contain all the excitement and joy they experienced. At the end of the outing, the volunteers awarded the children with their handmade cards. The children indeed had an enjoyable time at the Universal Studios and they were grateful to the volunteers who made their dream come true!
Memorable moments: Sorting, cleaning and packing for a new look!
Painting of blessing by the thoughtful GRACE volunteers!
The dedication and hardwork can be seen in the volunteers.
13 August 2011: The day when dreams come true Mdm A, a single mother, used the outing to bond with her son, whom she spent little time with due to work commitment. She deliberately made extra effort to take leave on that day to go. At the end of the outing, she shared with Michelle that she was extremely thankful to the caring and understanding volunteers who accompanied them wherever they went. It is heartwarming to know that the care and concern showered by the volunteers from Grace has strengthen the mother-son bonding.
In conclusion, on behalf of the management and staff of RCSS, I like to thank Pastors Kieran, Peck Yin and Wai Ching for their labour of love in Project Neighbour. Last but not least, we appreciate all the leaders and volunteers who contributed their precious time, effort and resources to bless the needy in the community.
“We all have learned the true Christian meaning of ‘togetherness’ in every aspect of our journey of faith in the Lord.” When Grace Assembly made the announcement about their 40 Days of Community project, we were both quite intrigued as we had previously done 40 Days of Purpose at another church, and wondered what this 40DofC is all about. Being newcomers together with a group of our friends to Grace, we were not sure how we could get involved. By God’s divine intervention, one particular Sunday after worship service our whole group encountered Ps Scott Tey at the church lobby and in sharing with us the 40DoC he encouraged all of us to form a group among ourselves. So we agreed and asked for a facilitator from Grace to assist the group. We thank God for sending Bro Edward Cheong to be our facilitator despite his many other commitments, and so CCK-1 came into being. As we progressed with our study, we noted that group members seized every opportunity to share our weaknesses, doubts and anxiety in line with what the respective lessons called us to do, and thus found each week a time of refreshing and encouragement as we shared and discussed especially the application questions.
Alfred & Rosalind (extreme left) with the 40 DOC small group. Our delight in the group was on discovering that the whole group unanimously felt very strongly to donate towards the food collection project, and also on seeing them eager to recite the memory verses when called for. Through this 40DoC we all have learned the true Christian meaning of ‘togetherness’ in every aspect of our journey of faith in the Lord. We learn that LOVE is the beginning of real community in that as we begin to show love for one another, we begin to become a family. Below is our prayer for each one of us: Lord, shape my life as only You can, Guiding each day by Your loving plan; Take what You need and give what You will; My life is Yours to use and to fill. [Branon]
by by Alfred & Rosalind Foong
now showing... Introducing Ps Benjamin Wong Pastor Benjamin Wong, who is the Community Pastor for GIID will assume the responsibility of overseeing REACH Counseling and Marriage Preparation Programme in Grace Assembly. He is married for 16 years to Tricia Poon and are blessed them with two sons; Reuben (12yrs old) and Jaekan (10 yrs old). His passion has always been to restore lives to wholeness. That is the reason why he has been in pastoral work since 1997. In his early years of missionary work, in Macau, Pastor Ben and his wife Trica served as pastoral counselors for a Christian drug rehabilitation centre; helping drug addicts walked out of their addiction and integrating back to society. They also pioneered a local church there and had many experiences of restoring broken marriages and families.
When they came back in 2001, Pastor Ben continued to be involved in the counseling scene; providing pre-marital and marriage counseling to couples on a regular basis in the local church they were serving in. Currently, he is pursuing his master in clinical counseling. Pastor Ben will work in partnership with a group of dedicated counselors from REACH headed by Chang-Goh Song Eng (Head of REACH Counseling) at RCSS to continue to provide professional counseling services to serve the members of GRACE Assembly. Letâ€™s pray alongside with the team for a greater opportunity to restore lives as we forge ahead.
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Pray er Re treat Rev. w Ong Sek L ith eong
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