Written by Rev. Andrew Wong, CEO, HISTEAM
For the sake of unity....., try a little harder …., strive to become stronger…
Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Eph. 4:3
In numerous occasions, I have heard others perceived and mentioned that HISTEAM (7979) is the Christian version of “Tzu Chi” in Malaysia. To be honest, whenever I hear such comparison, I have mixed feelings. What the general public could see are merely the superficial similarities between HISTEAM and Tzu Chi (as both are involved in disaster relief and mobilisation of volunteers in community services), in reality, both organisations have obvious and vast differences.
The mixed feelings comes from realisation after self-reflection that, compared to Tzu Chi’s efforts in mobilisation of Malaysian Buddhists (or general public), Christian volunteers are lagging behind in terms of enthusiasm, commitment, unity, sharing and integration of resources. In all these areas, we are in dire need to improve, to confess and to repent before the Lord and humbly learn from Tzu Chi.
7979 Holistic Care Relief Network has been established in Malaysia for 10 years, we earnestly pray to the Lord that in the area of caring for the poor, churches will display unity, God’s children will love and care for each other, and our Abba Father will be pleased. The frequent occurrence of major disasters around the world seem to remind us, no one individual or organisation can single-handedly manage these natural or man-made disasters in the end time.
The plague of the century, Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has brought Histeam, an organisation that had been engaged in disasters relief and mobilisation of volunteers for the past 12 years, through a unique journey, full of challenges and all-new experiences.
We are thankful to churches and family in Christ for the support rendered, which enabled us to raise RM720,000 of Disaster Respond Funds within three months. As at 20th June, through 135 of our 7979 partner churches or other non-partner churches, we have successfully assisted about 300 families to receive Crisis Intervention Fund (RM800-RM1,200), more than 3,300 times of resource distribution in the form of food supply worth RM100-RM200 per family, benefiting close to 13,000 individuals. In addition, 365 organisations and 372 individuals have received our hygiene pack (face masks and sanitizer), and finally 20 caring organisations also received disaster relief monetary assistance from Histeam to weather through the MCO period.
Discreetly, from Malaysia Tzu Chi’s website (as at 30th May), I found that they have exchanged all the funds that they raised into 1,050,380 pieces of surgical gloves; 623,771 pieces of surgical masks; 318,619.00 pieces of (Protective clothing, isolation gowns, head and shoe gears); 284,095 pieces of protective masks; 30,251 of vegetarian food packs, 28,703 times of caring assistance, 21,143 pieces of cloth masks, other disaster relief aid and services. I have no intention of bragging others to put ourselves down, but my intention is to use their sacrificial and united spirit of cooperation to remind Malaysian Christians, that we are still lacking in many ways and there is much room for improvement!
Complacency make us stagnant and not moving forward, and limited our contribution to the disaster victims. I am thankful that this pandemic had awakened many lukewarm churches and leaders, to take some initiatives, actively responded to the cries of disaster victims. However, in the process of responding to disaster, I was saddened to witness the bad practices that repeatedly occurred such as, duplication of resources and frail relationship among churches, denominations and organisations, all because each of them are operating their own relief efforts, not interacting with each other. After so many years, Malaysian Christians in our multi-racial and diverse society, are still not making much progress in the area of unity as body of Christ, we are seemingly halted at one point.
I often wonder why we can’t integrate resources, be united with one mind like Tzu Chi. I am not naive to dream of achieving political uniformity, nor pessimistic and self-pity to think reaching unity is a fantasy.
In every major disaster that I responded, I often practise self-reflection, whether we are too arrogant or complacent that leads us to be contented with our available resources and achievements? Or, are we too self-centred that we lost the ability to appreciate others, communicate and work with others? Or, are we too conceited and competitive that lead us to pursue recognition and applause from others, while completely ignoring the groaning of God and the holy discontent prompted by the Holy Spirit?
All of us need to repent, accept God’s reprimand of our wrongdoings, particularly the leadership of churches. May God forgive us of our ignorance and short sightedness. It is not by power or might, but the scriptures promised that, by the power of Holy Spirit, we may be united.
Only when we try a little harder......
Only when Malaysian Christians strive to be stronger…
Let us make every effort, to keep unity in the Spirit, dedicate wholeheartedly to God. Amen.