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Year 2020, when COVID-19 pandemic hit, everyone practised “Self Quarantine”, there was a group of people in this critical period of time, saw their neighbours lost their jobs due to MCO, decided to walk out of their “Safety Zone”, and into neighbours who were in trouble and cared for their needs, this group of people are the church members of JB New Life Christian Fellowship, one of our 7979 Holistic Care Station. “Due to MCO, we are giving out food and this helps us to mingle into our community. Before MCO, we are not aware at all that there are people around us who do not have food to eat…” Pr. Kok Chye told us that when everyone has their own job, we tend to think that everyone is doing well in their own life, so nobody needs special attention. Only until MCO takes effect, many people around us started to lose their job, only then we are aware that actually many people are living in really tough condition all these while, situation became worse when they are hit with the crisis.
New Life Christian Fellowship is situated in JB at Bandar Baru Permas Jaya. Majority of the residents here work in Singapore, this town is one of the pit stop for them to travel back and forth between Singapore and Malaysia. The minority works locally, residents with less living advantage are poorer. In the past, with the intention of mingle into the community, the church will organised carnival for residents in the community to participate and have fun together. However, the relationship built with the community always faded quickly just like the fireworks in the carnival.
In October, 2020, New Life Christian Fellowship with a vision of “The church mission is to serve the community”, they decided to partner with HISTEAM and became 7979 Holistic Care Station, by systematic and organised plans walked into their community. In order to go deeper into the community, the church started “Let’s Love Move” operation, assigned different Cell Group (CG) to care for different families. Ever since 7979 Holistic Care Station is being established, the church 14 CG, 70 church members of age between 20 to 60 year olds participated in this operation. Even though, not everyone can commit themselves for long period of time, but everyone still did their part in their own capacity. This kind of caring through passing on love, did not just passed on love to their community, it is also passing on a wholesome faith living example to the church members, allowing them to experience the blessing of giving is more blessed than receiving. Sis. Daphne Wong even commented: “If we can’t live out this kind of life, then it is a waste that we are even born in this world.” She continued to point out that social care can help new believers to deeper understand the complete Christian belief – not merely love ourselves and participate in church’s activities, but to spread Jesus Christ’s love, and care for the needy around us.
Lastly, Pr. Kok Chye shared this bible verse.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
Since 2019, this bible verse kept appearing in his mind. He has been teaching his church with this bible verses to love each other, so that others may recognise you as Christ’s disciples. “When you care for one family, his or her neighbour sees it, and they might be wondering why people are caring for that family. When they come to realisation, then they will know that this group of people are ‘Christians’.” Community will receive true blessings only when we deliberately build relationship with practical actions.
“我赐给你们一条新命令，乃是叫你们彼此相爱；我怎样爱你们，你们也要怎样相爱。你们若有彼此相爱的心，众人因此就认出你们是我的门徒了。” —约翰福音 13:34-35
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All train ride will reach its destination be it quickly or slowly. However, if it derails in the middle of the journey, then no matter how hard we try, we still cannot continue the journey. Unless, there is someone willing to stop and extend a helping hand, to realign the locomotive back to its track, then the train may continue its journey. Otherwise, it might have stuck in the middle of the journey and got into big trouble.
Xiao Meng (Pseudonym) and her husband have 8 kids, they are staying at a rented small flat unit in JB. Xiao Meng’s husband was a construction worker, although he did not earn much, but with their complacent attitude they were not lacking. Although the house is small, everyone had to cramp and sleep together in a tiny place, but they felt happy with their simple lives.
Since year 2020, the on and off MCO had caused Xiao Meng’s husband to lose his job, the whole household was forced to live on their tiny saving. During this period of time, Xiao Meng found out that she was pregnant with their 8th child, this supposed to be a good news, but with the endless MCO and shrinking saving, she felt helpless, and kept thinking “adult can withstand hunger, but children cannot, in addition to the baby that is coming soon.”
During pandemic, non-perishable food supplies given by some kind hearted people have kept them from being hopeless.
During this period of time, Xiao Meng received a phone call from a sister by the name of Daphne Wong from JB New Life Christian Fellowship, a 7979 Holistic Care Station’s volunteer. They intended to visit Xiao Meng, just to find out what are the assistance she require. When we are in plentiful, not many are willing to give us extra, it is even worst when we are in trouble. Xiao Meng and her family were very touched by Daphne and her team kind intention of extending a helping hand to them, but on the other hand, they were worried by the safety issue of so many strangers pay visit to them during this pandemic.
After their first visitation, the church immediately applied 7979 Crisis Intervention Fund for them. A subsidy of RM300 per month and over a period of 4 months, although it is not a big sum, but it is still a drizzle in times of drought.
In this period of time, Xiao Meng and her family relationship with the church were growing closer, especially the children, they always took initiative to talk to the church volunteers. During Christmas, they attended church service and received some gifts too. Every month, Sis. Daphne will bring her CG’s sisters to visit Xiao Meng, on every visit they brought along some formula milk, diapers, or some fresh vegetables for Xiao Meng. As time went by, church’s CG members and Xiao Meng had become friends, the things that they brought on every visitation was a prove of their genuine concern towards Xiao Meng and her family.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
In the community that you live in, are you aware of what happen to your neighbours? When we have our own jobs and three meals a day on the table, it is difficult for us to notice the crisis that others are facing, we will also not notice that may be some had already accidentally “derailed”, they are in need of someone to pull them out of their predicament. When Xiao Meng and her family were hit by the sudden MCO, their livelihood immediately became critical, just like a derailed train. This is the time, that they need someone who are willing to stop and extend a helping hand to pull them out of their predicament.
When a member of New Life Fellowship’s CG came to know of Xiao Meng and her family’s predicament, they acted immediately. Actually when the pandemic strikes, some CG’s members also lost their jobs, but when they heard of Xiao Meng’s stories, they felt thankful that they are still capable to care for others. Sister Daphne shared: “I felt very thankful that my CG’s members are willing to take initiative to care for others. In the process of helping others, they have gained a lot too, because their lives are being inspired!”
When we were talking about Xiao Meng and her family, Sis. Daphne shared that Xiao Meng’s husband did said something that comforted her, i.e. “Thank you very much for helping me, I believe you all are doing it without any condition, one day when I am capable, I am willing to join you to help others who are in need.” One simple sentence, that carries deep gratitude of Xiao Meng and her family, it is also symbolised that they are in agreement with the action that the church is doing. On the other hand, the church may also know that all they have done in the community had really impacted the community, they felt the love of the church and genuine intention to help. “Hopefully, in the end the church can share with them the gospel, so that they may know our true God, then they may experience the comfort and peace in Christ too!”
Now, Xiao Meng’s husband is back to work, their family livelihood is slowly regaining. Although, they cannot immediately go back to the condition they had before, but as long as they can continue to live peacefully and healthily, that is the biggest blessing of all!
A derailed train that return to its track will definitely reach its destination even when it is moving very slowly.
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In a community in JB, there lived a lonely old man, everyone called him Uncle Fu (pseudonym). Uncle Fu is 73 years old, he was fortunate enough to complete high school at a time when many children dropped out of school and not many people could complete their studies. He is very talkative and loves to share.
Uncle Fu's living in an old house left by his parents. The layout of one bedroom and a living room is enough for him who lives alone. Usually, he keeps the house neat and tidy. Three simple meals a day, a bowl of white rice and an egg.
Uncle Fu is a cancer survivor, however the operation had caused his left eye almost went total blind, so he relies heavily on his right eye to see the world. He is a photographer, so he recorded the world with his camera and earns his living by teaching photography. Now, he needs to use eye drops every day to keep his right eye from going total blind.
It would be a good thing for contented Uncle Fu who is in his sunset years, to be able to continue to live a simple life like this.
However, in year 2020 following after the implementation of movement control order, his students gradually decreased in number, the income he received barely covered his expenses, and the eye drops he used daily began to be unaffordable.
Uncle Fu's life is like an unfortunate capsized ship in the middle of the sea, struggling desperately in the sea hoping to grab a piece of driftwood to keep him alive. The emergence of 7979 Holistic Care Station at JB New Life Church was like a piece of driftwood grabbed by Uncle Fu. The church came to know Uncle Fu through a sister and they helped him to apply for 7979 Crisis Intervention Fund.
On each visit, the church brought some food supplies for Uncle Fu. Sometimes eggs, sometimes rice, and sometimes cooking oil. Some brothers and sisters even donated money to pay for Uncle Fu’s eye drops.
"Speaking of gratitude, I've been living this way for years. A bowl of rice and an egg every day, that's enough..." He said with a smile as church brothers and sisters shared 《The Descend of Blessings》 with him. Entering his sunset years, he is no longer obsesses with many things in life. He feels grateful as long as he is alive and healthy.
After this "capsized" incident, Uncle Fu's life had a drastic change. The encountering with church, had led him to Jesus and prayed the sinner’s prayer. "I do not know who God is, I also don’t know Jesus, but I see Jesus in all of you." Uncle Fu shared this with one of the volunteers. This encourages brothers and sisters in the church to use practical actions in caring for others, when they want others to feel the love of Jesus!
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Every year in December, North East Monsoon will bring heavy rainfall that causes flood to many areas in Malaysia.
Mid of Dec, 2021, Malaysia Meteorology Department forecasted Peninsular Malaysia will be affected by a tropical depression, hence there will be unceasing rainfall for days. Such weather, added to ever present monsoon rain and high tide threats, it had caused massive flooding to 5 states in Peninsular Malaysia. Klang valley experienced the most severe flood in 50 years.
| Waiting for the water to recede and sending rescue
It was the beginning of the weekend, the week before Christmas, when news of the flooding broke. After 2 days of unceasing rain, more and more severe disasters were reported in many places. 7979 disaster response mechanism activated immediately, December 18 (Saturday) afternoon, our co-workers went to the warehouse to pick up cleaning tools and equipment, so that they could response the first minute when the water receded. Unexpectedly, on the way back, the water had flooded the road and traffic jams were everywhere. Normally fifteen minutes’ journey became three hours. On that night, we received news that hardest hit area Shah Alam, Taman Sri Muda’s flood water had covered up to one floor high. We were getting calls for help, people were trapped, power outage, couldn’t contacted their relatives or friends……They couldn't do anything except calling the official emergency hotline.
The next day, the government seemed unable to rescue in time, many civilians and NGOs resorted to self-rescue by sending boats out. 7979 has two boats in our newly moved warehouse, which was also surrounded by floodwaters. Furthermore, the flooded intersection also being blocked by police. It was only in the afternoon that we were able to arrange a lorry to past through the roadblocks, and picked up the boats and the engines from the warehouse, then hand it over to the local partners to use.
| Disaster relief log
At the same time, we received messages from churches from all over the country, some churches asking for help, and some churches wanted to help. There was a church located in the disaster zone, up to 90% of their congregation was affected. Many people wanted to help the disaster victims at first instance. Therefore, from video conferencing to tools and equipment arrangement, recruiting volunteers and purchasing supplies, various disaster response operations were launched. Even though it was the weekend, works still went on.
There is always something new for us to learn or experience in every disaster response.
Sometimes, we might also have some special touching moments and new understanding.
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| A Submissive Response
As a Christian organisation, we need to have spiritual principle and insight to mobilise churches to respond to disaster. We have to wait patiently before our Lord, deeply believe that He will open the way.
Hence, once again, I’m being led by the Lord.
Foremost, last year August, I suddenly had the urge to conduct disaster respond training for our staffs. Because many of our co-workers had never attended any disaster prevention, risk reduction or disaster response courses. Hence, we gave our staff training for 1 hour every biweekly over 2 months plus. Discussion on some issues or sharing of relevant experiences during classroom session enable team using “common language” and reach consensus in very short period of time.
Secondly, we managed to source a warehouse nearer to our office, which is about 30km away. Originally, we planned to shift within 3 weeks. However, everything went so well that we only took 2 weeks for the shifting. This new warehouse had saved a lot of our time spent in transporting boats, tools and equipment. Later our warehouse was also affected by the flood, but compared with the condition of hard hit area, our loss was considered very minor.
Thirdly, hard hit area Taman Sri Muda is just located next to us, not more than 10km away, we set that as our primary focus area to care and to respond. On the first day when the water receded, my co-workers and myself, were setting off to check out the disaster condition. However, we were blocked at the road junction, due to severe jam caused by heavy traffic, we were forced to retreat. On the way back, I told my co-worker that we should have contacted a local church. Then I received a call from Elder Dexter from Shah Alam Gospel Centre immediately after I reached office, he was inquiring the possibility of working together on disaster respond. The next day when we met, we immediately became acquaintance, later we found out that we actually met twice few days ago, at that time, it was just head nodding greetings. Two strangers who never know each other ended up working together, what a divine appointment.
Heartfelt thanks to God, for He makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him.
| Sharing good news by actions
This time the flood hit right before Christmas, it caused havoc to many. However, we praised God that many churches seized the opportunity to serve. They are willing to serve the community by sharing the good news by their actions. A church elder asked me: “On 25th Christmas Day and 26th Dec. Christmas Sunday, can we still go out to serve?” I answered honestly: “This is something new to us, we had never before organise disaster respond during Christmas. If the church is willing, then we may proceed as usual.” Later, I discovered, the highest turn out of volunteers were on these two days, especially Sunday
| Disaster Relief “New Wineskin”
This flood came as a disaster amidst another disaster. COVID-19 was not over yet, hence we were facing double challenges, visible mud and rubbish and invisible virus. Therefore, we need to add in Pandemic Preventive SOP in our disaster relief operation to protect our volunteers and aid recipients. I am very thankful that all volunteers were very cooperative, they understood why do we need to implement new measures. Just like the slogan introduced by our Government in countering COVID-19 pandemic, “Kita Jaga Kita”.
In every disaster relief, we will face different problems, work with different group of people, hence faced with different needs. This time is not an exception, on one of those nights that we had meetings, many questions were raised, I spoke out bluntly, disaster response is like “clearing obstacles” one after another, disaster victims are clearing their obstacles, we are clearing our obstacles, everyone is clearing their own obstacles. Therefore, once we encounter problems or obstacles, we can only use the best possible way under current circumstances to solve it.
| Interaction between Church and Community
Taman Sri Muda is consider as a big residential area within a city, way back in 90’s, it had experienced a severe flood before. As, this area is next to an industrial zone, therefore residents living here are mainly laborers from grassroot families. Due to pandemic, many of them are already in financially shaky condition, in addition to the flood, the shaky hut totally shattered, many households instantly fell into financial deep pit. Over here, you can get a peek of urban poverty, many submerged cars were abundant as their owners can’t afford the repairing cost, broken electrical goods were unable to be replaced, worse till some houses were in such bad shape that even after cleaned up are still unlivable. Children is another concern, their scantily toys, school bags and books, were destroyed just as all the adults. Besides material needs, disaster victims’ emotional needs were vast too.
What should the church do,
when we face with such big needs?
We encourage the church to do qualitative companionship and care for those who need it, rather than macro scale of touch and go charity kind of relief work. Every church can adopt one area, care according to its capacity. We might not be able to help everyone, but we still can help disaster victims around us, especially the poor and underprivileged families. However, this model requires the commitment of the church for at least 2 months. Volunteer is easier to recruit during urgent disaster relief stage of cleaning and distributing goods, but when enter into recovery and rebuilding stage, it is much more difficult to recruit suitable personnel. Therefore, I hope churches or Christians can see disaster response as a medium or long term ministry. We might not be the first to enter the disaster zone, but we can be the last to leave the disaster zone.
这次的大水灾发生在圣诞节之前，让人有点措手不及。但是，感恩，很多教会主动寻找服事的机会。他们愿意服务社区，以行动来报佳音。教会长老问我：“在12月25至26日圣诞节和圣诞主日，我们是否能继续动员服务？” 我答：“这对我们来说，是史无前例。因为没有碰过圣诞节期间赈灾的情况。只要教会肯，我们照常服务。” 后来发现，这两天，尤其是主日，是出现最多志工的一天。
此次的水灾，是灾中灾。新冠肺炎还未过去，我们面对双重挑战，可见的污泥垃圾和看不见的病毒。因此，为了保护志工和受助者，在救灾过程上要加入防疫SOP。感谢志工们都很合作，谅解我们实施一些新的措施。正如政府为对抗冠状病毒疫情，提出的口号“Kita Jaga Kita”。
“Aunty，您的家很暗，也不通风，让我帮您打开窗口吧！”。 “千万别碰，那窗口坏了，开了就不能关上。” 奶奶紧张地从椅子上跳起来。
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Extreme weather becoming common everywhere. The massive flood occurred last December, was not mainly caused by monsoon rain, but caused by tropical low pressure, that brought uncommon heavy rain fall. The existence of tropical low pressure was very much related to the Philippines Typhoon Rai that was happening at the same time. This massive flood hit 8 states, caused 54 deaths and 2 missing, financial loss estimated around RM2billion. In the future, disaster causes by extreme weather will be more rampant, it’ll affects everyone in this World.
In the midst of coping with pandemic, with the addition of massive flood, troubles seem to be never end. Usually, when the media and public attention or focus ended, will there be anyone still concern about the critical condition of disaster victims? How about those under privilege children who have been affected by pandemic, who had gone through two redundant years; when our nation’s education system unable to help our children, how can our children receive education? The many “New Norms” in future, will quickly tests our perception on purpose of life, and how does faith affects ones thought and behaviour.
Many people are talking about the coming of metaverse era. This could be resulted from too many suffering in our daily lives, therefore people hope to experience a completely different self, things or lives in another cosmic space. My thought is, if we fail to live a life of truth, kindness and beauty in a realistic world, then the metaverse version is just another fake, surface and shallow Utopia.
Therefore, we can do the following:
Care more for those people living around us,
Be compassionate towards under privilege group,
Do not close your eyes on injustice issues that happened in our society; and
See your responsibilities in others’ need.
Today, I read a phrase on the internet: “There is no such thing as ‘One Particular Incident’ in this world. The society that we live in also do not have ‘One Particular Case’. As long as something happens in our society, then it is a matter of concern for everyone in this society”. You might think that this phrase is too extreme, but it is due to the attitude of self-protecting that brought about many sad tragedies.
Society is a common body;
nobody can exclude from it.
If the place you reside is “dark”, then you’ll be “dark” as well,
If the place you reside is “bright”, then you’ll be “bright” as well,
Let’s together go out and save life.
Light up a lamp in the dark,
Extend your hand to the helpless,
Stand firm and stay watchful at the gap.
If one person cannot accomplish the work, then go in a team, if one team still insufficient, then go in a mass, many hands make light work.
Our 7979 Service arm budget again exceeded 1 million, we need more volunteers and manpower.
We believe unity is power, when united then there is hope!
Can we have the privilege to invite you to walk together with us?
今天，我在网络上读到一句话：“这个世界并不存在什么 ‘个别事件’。我们生活的社会也不存在什么‘个别案例’。只要社会发生任何事情，都是属于这社会的一份子。” 你可能认为这话过于偏激，正因保持明哲保身的态度，社会上才发生许多悲惨险恶的事件。