“Being a first-time mum, I was exhausted and depressed,” shared Ms Steffanie Liu, a mother of two boys. “I almost believed that although God would save me spiritually, He didn’t care about how much physical and emotional suffering I was going through.”
“Now as I look back, I recognise that belief was an outright lie, because being in this WOW MOM group is evidence of God’s loving care towards me physically and emotionally. My leader and the ladies in the group have shown me loving acceptance and warm encouragement. Their honest sharing about their sufferings, struggles, and victories made me feel the love and warmth of God’s family, and helped me realise that God knows what I’m going through. I’m not alone because He knows and He cares.”
“I’m not alone” – these words of realisation have been echoed by countless mothers over the 32 years that the WOW MOM ministry – previously known as the Homemakers’ Ministry – has been in existence. (“WOW MOM” stands for “Women of Worth, Moms on Mission”.) Initially an informal network born out of the needs of first-time stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs), the ministry was drawn under the umbrella of Cru Singapore in 1985, and now reaches out to all mothers regardless of working status, recognising that the transformative experience of motherhood requires peer support that other mothers are uniquely positioned to provide.
Back in 1985, the need for in-person peer support was all the more critical with the rising incidence of the nuclear family as a residential unit rather than extended families living together, which meant first-time mothers had less opportunity to draw on the expertise and experiences of their own mothers. The practice of seeking community and information through the Internet was not yet as widespread, and SAHMs often felt cut off from their pre-maternity social circles, leading to isolation and loneliness.
The network of mothers, which grew through word-of-mouth, resulted in location-based clusters mushrooming across Singapore. More than just an avenue for fellowship and Bible study, this network provided practical tips and helping hands from those who immediately and intimately understood, a godsend to a first-time or struggling mother.
“We had play groups for the children, makan sessions, shared recipes, did crafts and played outdoor games,” recalled Mrs Pauline Lau, in an interview with the ministry’s pioneers published in its 25th anniversary magazine. In the same magazine, Ms Apple Wong shared how her group members supported her through her breast cancer diagnosis around the same time her third child, who has Down Syndrome, turned one. “These mothers became my faithful prayer warriors – they took time to intercede, some accompanied me for my therapy sessions, and others cooked and sent us yummy meals.”
Mothers were not the only ones who benefited from the ministry. Throughout the magazine, there were testimonies of how pre-believing husbands, domestic helpers, and friends were drawn to the Lord through the love and witness of its members.
Most significant, however, has been the impact of an engaged, encouraged mother on her children. I recall my mother, Mrs Helen Toh, blossoming as a leader when she helped pioneer the ministry during my Primary School years. I saw how she was given opportunities to lead Bible study and hone her leadership capabilities regardless of paper qualifications, how she grew in confidence in interacting with others, and how she helped so many families with practical and spiritual support. Contrary to popular views in the media, I became convinced that being a SAHM was an acceptable and feasible vocation, and even aspired to be a homemaker just like my mother.
Mrs Jodi Yong (pictured below in pink), Team Leader of the WOW MOM ministry, affirmed its positive impact on children through their mothers: “If we desire our children to be Christ’s disciples, then we must first become Christ’s disciples ourselves.” In 2013, her daughter who was then 12 years old asked: “Mummy, will we have a Christmas outreach this December?” In response, she challenged the girl to run a Christmas outreach with her friends who were children of WOW MOM members, aged between 6 and 14 years old, since they had seen how their mothers did it. The children took on the challenge! They designed invites, purchased goodie bags, planned and executed games, and shared the Gospel. It was a huge success! (See top right photo.)
This certainly fits the last part of the ministry’s focus on building God’s T.E.A.M.: Transformation by God’s Word; Evangelisation of the lost; Accountability to one another; and Multiplication of Christ’s disciples. More immediate, however, has been the impact on younger and newer mothers from interacting with more experienced members.
Shared Ms Grace Kwok, a mother of five: “Being in the WOW MOM ministry has helped me see the value of having older women walk alongside me, to encourage me in my journey as a SAHM. I was once a young mum with many issues and struggles. If not for my leader Siew Leng who took time to check in on my emotional well-being, I would have fallen into depression.”
“I prayed to the Lord that when the time came for me to mentor and walk alongside other young mums, I would gladly do so. This year the opportunity came. Together with my pastor’s wife, we met up with new mums, to encourage them in their new roles as mother and helpmate to their husbands.”
The ministry also organises talks and workshops that form a valuable resource to help parents navigate childrearing in the present age (see sidebar for their latest upcoming event).
This precious network of friendship and support, sparked 32 years ago, continues today in WOW MOM groups across Singapore, helping mothers remember they are “not alone”.
JOIN the WOW MOM ministry – contact Mrs Jodi Yong at email@example.com
Seminar: So you are thinking about giving your child a mobile
What are the conversations that you should have with your child in preparation of the new responsibility of having his or her own mobile phone? What are the boundaries that you should set to ensure that your child knows how to use it safely and wisely?
Come for a time of discussion and learning on how you can guide your child to be wise in using a mobile device. You will also get to hear from a teenager about online teen culture.
4 Nov 2017 (Saturday) 9.30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
Cru Centre, 18 Verdun Road, S(207280), Level 3
Free admission but registration required – sign up at https://tinyurl.com/wowmomN17. Limited to 100 spaces.
Grace Toh –
is the Editor of Methodist Message. She put this article together with valuable input from Jodi Yong, Team Leader of WOW MOM (Homemaker Ministry of Cru Singapore).