Today, Dn Chng Shih Kiat, Ministry Leader of Love in Action (LIA) Ministry, shares about the start, development and needs of the ministry.
LIA was started in 2014 with the intention to bring the Sarah Senior Activity Centre (SSAC) Ministry, the then Prison Ministry and the Host Family Ministry under one umbrella.
Even before the start of the LIA ministry, there were numerous brothers and sisters in PSPC who were faithfully serving God in these ministries for many years, meeting the needs of people outside the church. However, these ministries were operating by themselves, served by a like-minded group of faithful brothers and sisters in the Lord who felt the calling of God to serve in those particular areas. The co-workers were pouring in their own time, effort and finance to serve the Lord in these areas. The early years of the ministries were not easy. The SSAC co-workers tirelessly served lunch every Tuesday week after week and did home visitations on Saturdays while the Prison Ministry co-workers were serving on their own accord under the Prison Fellowship Singapore without any formal support from PSPC. The Host Family Ministry started by Alex Teo many years ago, was also served by numerous PSPC members in the background. The St Luke Whampoa Eldercare was also an area where a few of our members had served faithfully in. These ‘pioneers’ of the ministries tilled the ground, sowed the seeds of God’s love and many a times did not see the fruits of their labour but continued in these works just because of their calling to serve and their love for the Lord.
LIA was created with the intention to bring support to the 3 ministries from the church. It was in the first EDC meeting that I attended after beginning my term as a deacon that Rev Darryl announced the intention of the creation of a social concern ministry. As I was new to the EDC and only served at that moment as a mentor in PLH, I felt instinctively that serving God in a ministry dealing with social concerns and elderly folks was an area that I was comfortable with, given my background as a doctor. So I responded. Elder Wilson Teng responded to serve as the Elder in charge of the ministry.
In the first couple of committee meetings consisting of Elder Wilson Teng, Fiona Toh, Alex Lee, Foo Khee How (treasurer till 2017), Joo Luan, Christine Chan, Doris Lim, Julia Lee, Justin Lee, Alex Teo, my wife Lay Ling and I were present. Fiona and Joo Luan were representing the Prison Ministry. Christine and Doris were representing SSAC. Alex Lee, Justin Lee and Lay Ling were representing St Luke Whampoa Eldercare. Alex Teo was representing Host Family Ministry. In these early meetings, the decision was made to give the social concern ministry the name of Love in Action. This came directly from the theme verse of 1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
In those early days, the LIA ministry was aiming to increase the awareness of the PSPC family to the presence of social concern ministries and also to recruit more brothers and sisters into the ministries to serve as volunteers. It was not easy. I can remember the first recruitment drive that was held in church, there were only a few members who came to the booth to enquire and there was only one sign up at the end of the day. The committee was also faced with the task of how to integrate so many sub-ministries under one umbrella. There was also the issue of leadership transition as Alex Teo had left PSPC to go over to Bartley Christian Church, the Host Family Ministry leadership was also left in a void. Thankfully Adrian Toh stepped up to take up the challenge. The committee also had to grapple with the issue of whether to continue with the support for St Luke Whampoa Eldercare. At that time, Wilson Teng, Justin Lee, Alex Lee and Lay Ling were in the committee for Whampoa Eldercare for a number of years and the decision to not continue with the support in the managing of the centre took time and deliberation in prayer and discussion.
The SSAC was faced with its own set of challenges. With the faithful services of the brothers and sisters, God was moving in the hearts of the residents that the co-workers were ministering to. However the co-workers were faced with the challenge of providing discipleship training for the seniors. There was initial consideration of partnering Singapore Life Church but the initiative did not take off. There was no pastoral support from PSPC at that time. The pastoral support was given by Pastor Abel from Covenant Presbyterian Church. This partnership went on for a few years until God sent Pr Cheam Wan Xian to PSPC that we eventually part ways and carry on with each other’s God given task. At different phases of time, God moves in different ways but we thank God that through it all, as long as we serve Him faithfully, He will fulfil His purpose. I was also tremendously encouraged by what I witnessed in the faithful service of our members. Serena and Joseph (Joseph is American), while they were with PSPC, gave their hearts to serving Him in SSAC. Even when language was a barrier, it did not deter Joseph from giving his all. Recently when they returned for a short time from US, they linked up with SSAC and continued their service. There were also the many seniors in PSPC, who serve faithfully week after week, preparing the Tuesday lunch and bringing it down in their own time, with their own effort and money. Even when one is elderly, the service to the Lord can continue for His glory and praise. God continues to bless the ministry with the starting of the Chinese ministry that serves synergistically with SSAC in ministering to the seniors in Bukit Merah. We also give Him thanks for the provision of musicians and worship leaders to help out on the Saturday chapel services. It is wonderful to see how brothers and sisters stepped forward to avail themselves and we will continue to trust God to provide.
The Prison Ministry, which was renamed New Life Ministry (NLM) this year, has also witnessed the faithfulness of God in many ways. The ministry started in a small way quite a number of years back, when a few in PSPC caught the Lord’s vision to serve in this area. It is like the parable of the mustard seed. Though small in beginning, it will eventually flourish to become the largest tree (Matthew 4:30-32). I became involved in NLM after the LIA was started. Peter Lim invited Lay Ling and I to join him and the team in the Easter chapel service in Prison back in 2015. During the service, I saw the joy of the inmates in worshipping God. Though they sang out of tune most of the time, the desire to sing praises to God was there. They danced, clapped and sang. Though imprisoned, their spirits were free to sing praise and worship the mighty God who has saved them. Thereafter I volunteered for the in-care service with PFS. It is not how talented one is that determines whether one can serve, it is one’s availability. What the inmates require is not how well you can preach or teach, but your friendship, your faithfulness in going to them and your listening ear. NLM is an area where we still face a lot of challenges. How do we disciple those who come to PSPC? How do we encourage them in their growth? How do we enlarge the ministry to serve more families singed by the consequences of sins? Even as we grapple with many uncertainties, we are learning to trust God who provides and to learn to cover the ministry with prayers.
As for the Host Family Ministry, the challenge is how to minister effectively to the students, especially the short term students who will only be with us for 6 months. It is great that the YACHT Ministry has given us a helping hand by offering their help to engage the students by our young adults. But if we see ourselves as strategically located in our neighbourhood flanked by art and academic institutions as well as student hostels, then we will need more of our brothers and sisters at PSPC to step forward to be that host to bless the students that come to our country, to extend to them our friendship and Christian love and God willing, to share with them the love of Christ and the Good News.
In my reflections for the last 4 years of being involved in LIA, I can see how God has been leading and guiding us step by step. I was given the privilege of seeing how He has provided and brought in help, how He has slowly enlarged the ministry. However, we share the sentiment that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, and we hope more of our brothers and sisters in Christ will take that step to avail themselves if they feel the calling of the Lord into LIA. I would like to conclude with Acts 20:24 as an encouragement to all, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, my only aim is that I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”