AT THIS CELEBRATORY TIME of the year, Christ becomes the buzz word and His name is everywhere. Little kids sing it; shops shout it and advertisers make huge headlines out of it.
However, it is in the context of the commercial CHRISTmas that Christ is being remembered by the larger community. Within the church, our focus, naturally, is on the real reason for remembering the season, and that is that Christ came down for man’s salvation. And that His Kingdom shall reign both on earth and in heaven.
Despite the challenges posed by the weak economy this past year, the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS), reflecting the love of Christ, has managed to continue serving the poor and needy through its 13 centres and outreach services.
We share here a few stories about the people who have benefited from our services, made possible by the generosity of our churches and supporters.
A troubled teenager gets timely help… (from one of MWS’ Family Service Centres)
It is not easy being a teen, but 14-year-old Kris*, a Secondary 2 student, has more than her share of problems. Her family of four lives on her single mother’s $900-a-month income.
She had poor social skills and no friends. In fact, she was being bullied in school. With counselling from our social worker, Kris became more aware of how her lack of social skills could have triggered off the bullying from her schoolmates.
Linking up with the school counsellor, we worked with Kris’ teacher to change her classroom seating arrangements to facilitate her interaction with people she could be friends with. Now, she is more cheerful as her classmates no longer call her names and those who bullied her want to be her friends. After three months, Kris is a more confident teenager. She now relates to her peers better and can recognise her own strengths.
Old and infirm but cared for with love … (at Bethany)
Mr Loi, 76, used to be a hawker and lived in a one-room rental flat. He later moved in with his 74-year-old brother but after he fell and fractured his hip, the brother, who moves around with crutches, was unable to care for him.
A medical social worker referred the elder Mr Loi to Bethany Methodist Nursing Home in 2004 after he was discharged from hospital.
His savings from his days of working as a hawker have been depleted and although he has six siblings between the ages of 59 and 78, not a single one of them is working or has the means to support him.
Two families, four rooms … (helped by one of MWS’ Family Service Centres)
Heng Mun, a 30-year-old homemaker and her husband Frank, 37, have two daughters, aged seven and five. They live with Frank’s sister and her family in a four-room flat as Frank had lost his job in the economic downturn. The relationship with Frank’s sister’s family was strained as they felt pressured to contribute towards household expenses even though they had no money.
In addition to helping their elder daughter with school pocket money, we provided them with food rations until Frank found work.
The MWS also helped Heng Mun to deal with her emotional issues: feelings of discrimination from her parents-in-law, past hurts from being abandoned by her biological parents and abuse by her adoptive family.
Over the months, the family’s financial situation improved as Frank found work first as a cleaner earning $1,000 a month and then a better paying job a few months later. Heng Mun sold clothes and cleaned houses to supplement the family’s income. They have begun looking to purchase a three-room flat and getting their life back on track. The family wants to stop their daughter’s School Pocket Money Fund application as they feel that “the less fortunate deserve it more”. Through this crisis, they have learnt to empathise with the needy and “give back to society”.
We hope that there will be a happy ending to each of our clients’ stories. We will strive on to help them, relying on God’s grace and strength to see us through. In this season of remembering Christ’s purpose on earth, we invite you to be a channel of His love to the down-trodden, and help the poor and needy.
*All names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Pearl Lee is the Communications Consultant of the Methodist Welfare Services.