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25 March 2018 | Vicar Writes

Helping the “hidden needy”

By Terry Wong

In this Year of Prayer, the Cathedral has a theme that resonates with many of us and it is this - ‘Pursuing the Heart of God’. And what, we may well ask, is upon the heart of God?

We have many thoughts and suggestions in this direction, amongst which are: to seek God more intimately in closet prayer, secret devotion, corporate prayer, the study of His Word etc. These are foundational disciplines and we need to encourage each other to return to the heart of God in this way.

But may I suggest that there is another aspect to pursuing the heart of God: it is to pursue His passion for the lost, the poor and needy, the helpless and the hopeless in our land. As we sing in the song Hosanna, “break my heart for what break Yours.”

In the Old Testament, we see God’s heart for the poor, the needy, the orphans, the widows and the foreigners of the land (see Exod 22:26-27;
Lev 19:9-10; Deut 14:28-29; Deut 24:10-22). Besides the call to hear and obey God’s commandments and to walk in the fear of the LORD, here is a clear call to care for and love people.

Repeatedly, the prophets denounced the callousness of the Israelites in their treatment of the poor and the destitute. And judgment came upon them in their refusal to heed God’s call to repent and to do what is right and just. 

Micah 6:8 sums it well: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Having shared this, we do know that helping the poor is sometimes not as straightforward as it may seem. Who are the poor? At the lawn, last Sunday,  a man accosted a clergyman for money.  He was able-bodied and spoke well in English. Should the clergy give him any money?  Some of you who have been long in this Cathedral, would have experienced such a situation.  Should we give money to anyone who asks us for it? Our pastors are often in this quandary.

Who are the poor in Singapore and how can we help them? In the orderly and pristine city of Singapore, the needy are often hidden in nicely-painted HDB blocks. We need to seek out the “hidden needy.” 

In Singapore, the Cathedral does a good work to uplift the less-privileged and to help the needy. CITY Community Services befriends and cares for disadvantaged children in schools,  the Mobile Medical Service to the Community reaches out to vulnerable groups such as foreign workers and the elderly, and the Cathedral Home for the Aged is a home for elderly women without families or whose families are not able to care for them. These are excellent ministries and I would urge more of you to step up to help in person or to support the work financially.

We will still need to attend to the needy in our midst, worshipping with us as well as to those who walk into our premises to ask for help.  An able and dedicated team of members is needed for this work which entails keeping the principles of compassion and the perimeters of the ministry.  This work will be time-consuming and it will overlap with our counselling ministry, but this is a much-needed step up for our church.  I believe that some of you have the experience, heart and time to serve in this area. If you can help with this or the other ministries mentioned above, please email Adeline Hee at  missions@cathedral.org.sg or phone 63376104 ext 133.