Coronavirus

The Least of Those

David Vincent Tan // May 7, 2020, 12:43 am

john-moeses-bauan-6ner152Cc6c-unsplash

Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash.

We are into the fifth week Circuit Breaker. What is God saying to us? How should we practise our faith during these times?

Early this week, I had a dream. I cannot remember most of the details of the dream but I remember the last part where I was brought to a place where there was a guard, and the guard said: Remember Ezekiel 34:20.

When I woke up, I looked for this scripture: “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.” (Ezekial 34:20)

Almost immediately, I knew what God was trying to say to me.

Are your hearts made of stone?

For the past two weeks, ever since I started volunteering to meet some urgent needs in the community, I have been wrestling with some issues on my mind and heart.

I began volunteering to serve free meals with TOUCH Home Care to elderly living alone in one-room flats.

I remember that on the first day, as I pressed the doorbell, a lone elderly man walked out slowly to open the door. As I walked away, I began to tear as I sensed his loneliness and I heard the still, small voice of God: Are your hearts made of stone?

I began to wrestle with these words: “Are your hearts made of stone?”

Last weekend, my cell group began to respond to urgent pleas for help – a group of Vietnamese migrant workers were wrongfully dismissed by their employers and they were left stranded, with no money and some with housing issues. We responded to raise funds and provide free meals and groceries for a few of these migrant workers.

“I sensed his loneliness and I heard the still, small voice of God: Are your hearts made of stone?”

A few days ago, while helping out a migrant worker re-locate, an old man pushing his cart came near us, gesturing. He said he needed food. He has been going around searching through garbage for leftovers.

I had just done my grocery shopping at NTUC and quickly gave him my bread and a bunch of bananas. The old man gave a smile, thanked us profusely and pushed his cart away.

In the same weekend, two youths whom I know self-harmed. One has family problems and felt overwhelmed. The other struggled with loneliness and could not connect with God and others.

During COVID-19, existing faultlines in families could worsen, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions could see an escalation of their mental health issues. 

My heart sinks each time I hear about how COVID-19 has affected the vulnerable groups in our community – the poor, the isolated elderly, the migrant workers, the marginalised, those with family issues, those with mental health issues, and those whose livelihoods are affected.

What is God trying to say to us during these times? In Ezekiel 34:20, God says He will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep, between the arrogant self-righteous, and the humble and meek.

Matthew 25:39-40 sheds more light: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Be the Church

It is heartening to see many Christians responding with compassion to the needs of the poor and needy during this crisis.

There are many more needs to be met, more injustices that need to be addressed, more mouths to feed, more hearts to be lifted up.

Are we more concerned about hoarding supplies for ourselves? Are we more pre-occupied about self-preservation?

This season, we cannot physically go to church. But we can be the church.

James 1:27 says: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

This season, we cannot physically go to church. But we can be the church. Will the church rise up to meet the needs?

Our spirituality must flow from our private prayer and Bible study into community witness and social action, where Christ has taught us to love others.

Acts of compassion and social concern are evidence of biblical agape love as shown in the days of Acts.

During this extended Circuit Breaker and beyond, may we all respond with hearts of compassion to those around us, loving our neighbours as ourselves, loving the vulnerable in our community. This is what Jesus would have us do: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

May the Church not be found wanting!

We are not in the same boat 

Last week, I came across this poem and I would like to share an excerpt here:

I heard that we are in the same boat.
But it’s not like that.
We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.
Your ship can be shipwrecked and mine might not be.
Or vice versa.

“We are on different ships, looking to survive.”

For some, quarantine is optimal: a moment of reflection, of re-connection. Easy, in flip flops, with a whiskey or tea.
For others, this is a desperate crisis.
For others, it is facing loneliness.
For some, peace, rest time, vacation.
Yet for others, Torture: How am I going to pay my bills?

Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter (this year there were no rich chocolates).
Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.
Some were in their “home office”.
Others are looking through trash to survive.
Some want to go back to work because they are running out of money.

Do not underestimate the pain of others if you do not feel it.
Do not judge the good life of the other, do not condemn the bad life of the other.
Don’t be a judge.
Let us not judge the one who lacks, as well as the one who exceeds him.
We are on different ships looking to survive.” (Author Unknown)

May we all navigate our route with respect, empathy and responsibility. 

 

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About the author

David Vincent Tan

David Vincent Tan has been an educator and counsellor for 17 years. He and his wife, Joy, delight in helping youth find their identity, wholeness and destiny in Christ, and are passionate about serving the poor in the nations.