“Every crisis is an opportunity to ask: Who can we show generosity and compassion to?”: YWAM’s Joseph Chean at Pastors’ Summit 2022
Joseph Chean, National Director of Youth With A Mission Singapore // January 12, 2022, 6:43 pm
"As we took steps to not just look at what we lacked, but to a God who has things on His heart ... God came through," said Joseph Chean, national direction of YWAM Singapore, at Day 3 of Pastors' Summit 2022. Photo by Ang Wei Ming.
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
This is a trustworthy saying. It is true and you can depend your life upon it.
When the pandemic hit in 2020 and I realised how severe it was, I said to myself: How is Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Singapore going to last through it?
And God said from Psalm 127:1:
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
I was totally shocked, because YWAM at that time was building a property in Lorong 9 in Geylang.
“He has been faithful for all this time. Surely, He will take us into the future.”
Because of the pandemic, our donors were affected. All of our (discipleship) schools were cancelled because most of them are held in a community context.
Sometime in April, the board contacted me and asked: “Joe, how long will YWAM last if we have got no more donations and we cannot run any schools?”
I dug into our financials and realised that YWAM had only enough funds for another three months.
The board asked me: “How?”
We said to the board: “We turn to the Lord in prayer, and we just have to trust in Him. He has been faithful for all this time. Surely, He will take us into the future.”
“If you look after the poor, I will look after you”
While we were counting how much money we had left, a group of 30 street ladies and pimps came knocking on the doors of YWAM and asked us if we could help them.
For many years, we had been trying to reach out to them. This is the first time that they came to us.
After Covid closed down all the brothels in Geylang, the brothel owners kicked out all the street ladies, including the pimps. Overnight, there were more than 100 homeless people on the streets of Geylang.
So 30 of them came to us, and the ministry leader said she would like to provide them with shelter and money for food, so that they can go look for another job.
Is there any guarantee? The only guarantee we had was the faithfulness and the goodness of God over the last 40 years.
I asked her: “How much money are you thinking about?”
She said about $60,000.
Wow, $60,000. We are already going to drown in about three months now. If I dig up $60,000, it means we’re going to drown in about two and a half months.
What do you do when you’re in a situation like this? We turned to the Lord in prayer. And the Lord said this: “If you look after the poor, I will look after you.”
I was very scared. If we were to commit to this, what if … ? Is there any guarantee? The only guarantee we had was the faithfulness and the goodness of God over the last 40 years.
I said to the team leader: “Go for it. Let’s believe God for it.” So, she went out and began to reach out to the people.
Miraculously, God provided the money.
One of the persons that came to us for help was an uncle from the street. Instead of renting a place for him, we invited him to come and live with us in YWAM.
For the first time in his life, he lived in a Christian community and experienced what it means to have fellowship together.
We created a place of belonging for him. Eventually, as he felt belonged, his behaviour began to change. Over time, as his behaviour changed, he began to believe in the Lord.
Today, this man is one of our staff at YWAM. He has done amazing work in terms of growing and seeing what the Lord has asked him to do.
In June 2020, many Malaysians lost their jobs and were cash-strapped and stranded in Singapore. Most were sole breadwinners of their families.
There was this article that read: “I eat one meal a day”. I remember as I was reading that article, the Lord whispered to my heart: Do something. I wanted to reach out to their families back home in Malaysia.
As a result of that, 75 families in Johor Bahru were helped, and many of them turned to Christ.
So, we rolled out a project called Love Migrant Breadwinner. The goal of this work was to reach out to the families who are solely dependent on these Malaysians to provide for them.
We decided we would provide food, shelter, education and medication (for the families) for three months, so that these stranded Malaysians can look for another job here in Singapore.
When I wrote the project paper, I wondered: How much money would I believe God for? I wrote down $100,000. When I wrote that, my hands were shaking because I didn’t know where this money was going to come from.
I presented it back to the Lord and said: “Lord, if this is what You want, then You must provide.”
So, word got out and began to spread from one person to another.
The biggest group that came together to support this work was from Holland Village Methodist Church. A group of members heard about it, spread the word around, and within the week I was asked to Zoom with 35 people whom I’ve never met even today.
And that 35 of them provided $175,000. They not only gave money. They gave time. They rallied their friends.
I found Christians from Indonesian churches here in Singapore and Christians from other Methodist and Anglican churches, and they just came together for one singular purpose: To look around and see how they could serve people.
As a result of that, 75 families in Johor Bahru (JB) were helped, and many of them turned to Christ. We connected them to the local church in their hometowns.
Some families – whole families – are currently baptised and now part of the local church in JB. God did His work.
Every crisis is an opportunity
As we took steps to not just look at what we lacked, but to a God who has things on His heart, we began to act upon what He says and take these steps of obedience. And God came through.
What we experienced was the generosity of the body of Christ.
In times of a pandemic like this, the Church in Singapore has really, really risen up and looked into the well-being of one another.
Yesterday, Pastor Edric Sng talked about how some churches contacted him during the pandemic and said: “Look out for any organisations or churches that need help.”
Well, YWAM was one of the recipients. As a result of that, God used the Church to carry YWAM through this very difficult time. And as a response to the generosity of the local church, YWAM began to look around to wherever God has called us.
We have learnt that every crisis is an opportunity to look around and to ask: Who can we show generosity and compassion to?
How many of you have experienced generosity from a family of God in the last two years? How many of you received food? How many of you have received acts of service? How many of you – your churches or yourself – received financial help? How many of you received quality time from people?
This is what we must celebrate.
In times of a pandemic like this, I want to say that the Church in Singapore has really, really risen up and looked into the well-being of one another, just looking at how we can serve and be a blessing to one another.
This excerpt is adapted from a sharing by Joseph Chean, national director of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Singapore, on the third day of LoveSingapore’s Summit 2022.
- What are the vision, hope and dreams that God has placed in your heart to seek the social and spiritual welfare of the nation?
- How can we, the body of Christ, celebrate, complement, support, pray for and bless one another’s efforts to seek the welfare of our city?
- What is one practical way we can show love to one another?
MORE STORIES FROM SUMMIT 2022:
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