By Elaine Lee
Thank you so much for this. God bless you” she said, her face filled with relief and gratitude. Ms. K was a struggling widow with six young school-age children, and every act of kindness made a difference in her family.
The above scenario occurred in Penang’s Jelutong suburb as volunteers from the Penang Christian Centre’s BLESS the Community project handed her much-needed food and essentials. The homeless and poor were already struggling to meet their basic needs before the pandemic. With the current scenario of skyrocketing Covid 19 cases, the impoverished have reached a new level of desperation that is difficult to put into words.
The BLESS the Community food project under the umbrella of Penang Christian Centre (PCC) began as a Gospel Project in a cell group. The goal was to feed the poor and homeless once every fortnight. On March 14th, 2021, the pilot project distributed 72 packets of economy rice and 9 packets of Wan Tan Mee to the poor and needy. They doubled the amount on March 28th, 2021, with 156 packets of economy rice. In addition, 80 IKEA blankets were distributed to low-income families and the homeless. The burden of reaching out to a larger circle of those in need, on the other hand, fell heavily on the members of the cell.
“He burdens the heart that He calls,” Erwin McManus said.
After approaching the leadership of Penang Christian Centre, it was decided to launch a food project for the homeless and poor. The following objectives were established in accordance with PCC’s Vision of Touching People and Changing Lives.
-To establish PCC Kitchen Teams that are feasible and sustainable to meet the growing needs of the homeless and poor.
-To reach out and pray for those in need as they distribute food packets.
-To gain a better understanding of the community’s needs through personal encounters.
A team led by Project Leader Brother Khoo was formed with the advice and support of Reverend Thomas and Brother Amos with the goal of reaching out to the community on a larger scale. Over 60 volunteers jumped on board in no time. These volunteers were determined to lend a helping hand to those in need because they had a heart for the hungry, poor, and lost. Sister Rebecca, the Cooking Team Leader, described the food project as “composed of like-minded people who have a heart for the homeless, to share the blessings, and the love of Christ to the homeless community during this very trying time of the pandemic.” The volunteers understand that small acts of love and kindness will go a long way. Every one of them wants to seize the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those around them. A roster was created, and everyone took turns contributing based on their ability and capacity. Our gifts may differ, but they always point us in the direction of God’s purposes.
They were now able to provide food, drinks, and dry goods in larger quantities on a weekly basis, thanks to a larger team and more resources. “The whole team served tirelessly every week by bringing food to the street people and some poor families, bringing the love and hope of Jesus to the community during such difficult times,” Reverend Thomas said. The residents of St Nicholas Home (a non-profit charitable organisation for the blind and visually impaired) recently sent out an urgent request for assistance due to a self-imposed quarantine on their premises. (Two members of staff and two residents had tested positive for Covid 19.) Without hesitation, the volunteers got together to provide 75 packets of lunch and 200 bottles of 100 plus for the blind and visually impaired residents daily from August 8th to August 12th, 2021.
Initially, all of the cooking and packing was done in PCC’s kitchen. However, it was no longer permitted due to restrictions imposed by the country’s MCO. Instead of giving up, the volunteers refused to let anything stand in the way of reaching out to the community and began cooking from their homes. The freshly prepared meals were then packaged and distributed throughout Penang. Before joining this food project, Brother Justin, the Team Distribution leader, fed the poor and homeless with his group of friends for the past two years. He considers it a privilege to be able to assist those in need, saying, “If I am able to give, it would mean that God has blessed me with more than enough. I hope that I will be able to give for the rest of my life.”
Since the start of PCC’s BLESS the Community project, a total of 2,244 food packets have been distributed, and a total of RM 14,433 has been spent. Whatever the cost, God has always shown up to provide in various ways and means because He loves all of His children. As a compassionate God, He has faithfully provided the resources required for the work to the workers in the field.
Intentional acts of kindness can have a significant impact on the lives of those who receive them. These small acts of kindness serve as a constant reminder to them that they are not forgotten. People who are marginalised in society, such as the poor and homeless, frequently feel worthless, insignificant, and abandoned by society. “When we help others, the poor and the needy, we are actually sowing the seeds of goodness, kindness, and love that we have received from God. It is actually the Love of God that works in, through and among us,” says Project Leader Brother Khoo. This scripture is near and dear to his heart. “Then the righteous will answer him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’ Matthew 25:37-40 (NKJV).
The Bible contains a lot of truth. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” Zechariah 4:10 (NLT). What began as a gospel project in a small cell group has grown by leaps and bounds and impacted the lives of countless people in the community. For the rest of us who aren’t involved in a food or community project, there are plenty of other ways to help. Through the power of God, our simple acts of kindness have the potential to transform lives, restore hope, and bring the Light of the World to those who are in darkness. All we need are willing hearts and spirits to BLESS the Community.
About Elaine Lee
Born, bred, and still residing in Penang, Elaine loves reading, dogs, and taking walks on the beach. Elaine believes that every life experience should be effective agents of change to make us better people on Earth.