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Picking Up Washed Ashore Starfish
Kepong Abundant Grace AG – Interview Journal
Written by Hoi Xin
A flat at a corner of Kuala Lumpur, the stain mottled marks on the walls reflected how old the building is. Clothes hanging on the window sway with the win, dogs sleep deeply at the corners. All these are so contradict to the bustling city not far away. Year 1992, Kepong Abundant Grace AG moved into this place. From the pastor to every lay believer, this church believes and embraced the vision of “Church must be built within the community”. In this place where the urban poor gather, the existence of church is like streams in the desert to underprivileged families.
Once in a month, these flat residents will receive gospel tracts that handed out by Pr. Joshua. He will lead his church members to go house to house and distribute gospel tracts; many times they don’t receive any respond. They will slip the it into the mail box or door steps and they pray along the way. When someone opens the door, they will ask politely, “Do you need any help?” This is how the church gains opportunity to engage with individuals or families.
ǀ Because Jesus loves you
Pr. Joshua had been asked few times already by the people whom he helped, “Why do you help me?” “Because Jesus loves you.” From this simple conversation, we can see the love for God and people manifested in the life of Pr. Joshua. He said: “This is a huge plan, our church is trying to create a sense of belonging of the community to the church.” He deeply believes that one day, people in this community will find it natural to walk into the church and seek God’s help. He explained, even though he is serving this community, but the influences can spread further, when the aid recipients accepted church assistance, they usually cannot resist the urge to share with others about how the church had helped them. Therefore, as long as all churches can faithfully minister to the flocks around them, it will reflect a picture of unity in Christ.
Pr. Joshua shared honestly, from intervening one family to community transformation is like picking up washed ashore starfishes and put them back to the sea, it may seems foolish, but it is necessary. He give thanks to God, in the past some aid recipients strongly believed in fate, but under the church constant company, they do not only accepted Jesus into their lives, their family members and neighbours also witnessed the changes in them, and people began to get curious about the church.
Pr. Joshua shared a secret of how to develop strong relationship with aid recipient. i.e. care for others without any condition. He believes that the priority should be to fulfill their needs first; in the process of working with them, they will slowly come to know the church, and put down their guard. Be it phone calls, house visitation or accompanying them, it is all opportunities for the church to testify. Pr. Joshua usually will straight forwardly asks the aid recipients what is their needs, undeniably, this act shows that we respect aid recipients as a helper. He emphasized that dealing cases is a spiritual warfare which we must start with prayer, serve people with wisdom from Holy Spirit, and end with a prayer by handing over everything back into God’s hand.
ǀ Promoting Community Care Projects
At the moment, the church uses “Underprivileged Children Companionship Class” program as a means to engage with majority of the aid recipients. Companionship Class is a long term program, it provides ready platform for the church to give homework guidance and life coaching systematically to the children, thus enable us to enter into every family. The children are naïve and innocent, they trusted our Companionship Class teachers, they will shared with teachers whatever things that happened at home. The teachers will lead the children to pray accordingly, or pray together with the team of Companionship Class. Sometimes they will use resources such as 7979 Crisis Families Intervention Assistance fund or other resources to ease off some families from sudden crisis. The person in charge of Companionship Class ministry is Pr. Joshua’s wife, Sis. Liew. Their youngest daughter is also in the ministry team.
Pr. Joshua said that the church planned to install a notice board at the door in front of the church, announcing to the community seminars or activities available. In the past, the church organised seminars on Financial Planning and Children Sex Education. In future, the church hopes that she can organise some health talks on illnesses such as glaucoma or diabetes, and provide health screening, to help the community to be better in sickness prevention, and to be able tackle the health issues before it become worse. He smilingly added, those people who became aid recipients had turned into his volunteers, they treasured every opportunity in helping others. From an aid recipient turned into a person who empowered others, is the most comforting thing to the helpers.
ǀ Integration of Social Resources
For the benefit of the community, Pr. Joshua do not only invites professionals from all walks of life to speak, he also liaise with welfare department, 448 Food Bank depending on the needs of aid recipients. He also involves in hospital visitation, evangelistic ministry and provides job opportunities to people in order to help aid recipients to be able to be independent and walk out of their problems.
ǀ This is Commandment, not a Multiple Choice Question
Pr. Joshua always remind his church members that participating in community services is beneficial to their spiritual lives, Church cannot be inward-looking, we should serve the people according to the burden and spiritual gifts we have. Some believers shared that when they saw the aid recipient started to stand up and served others, they felt deeply encouraged and decided to get involved in loving the community ministries too.
“The integration of social services and gospel ministries is a good channel for the church to enter into a community.” Pr. Joshua hopes that in future, there will be more churches joining 7979 Relief and Services Network. He prayed that God will raises up more churches that have burden for their community, by faith they will live out the teaching of loving God and man. As for man power or resources, Pr. Joshua believes that God will provide, this is his many years of experience.
Looking at the stain mottled marks walls of this flat, the author hopes that the gospel seeds that spread to every household will quickly sprout.