|PHOTOS: Albert Tan|
For this man, persons with intellectual disabilities deserve to live their best life too.
“Can one person make a difference?”
This question posed by Bill Wilson of Metro Ministries, New York, instantly resonated with Nicodemus Lim in 1998.
Inspired by Wilson’s outreach to the poor and needy in slums of Brooklyn, Lim decided to volunteer for Jesus for All Minds, a ministry help group in City Harvest Church that serves individuals with special needs.
When he was a schoolboy, Lim had three classmates and two neighbors with intellectual disabilities. Lim recalls how miserable he felt as a young boy when he would watch dismally as one of these classmates repeatedly failed his tests. When Lim could not take it any more, he secretly allowed this classmate with special needs to copy his answers. Today, Lim still remembers his friend.
Having a heart for people led Lim to pursue his calling in social work (even though he had topped his cohort in electronic engineering at university), much to the dismay of his mother, who then, couldn’t understand why her son chose this path. Lim went on to attain an overseas scholarship and eventually gained direct entry to a PhD program with a full scholarship.
Lim describes the members of JAMs as persons who are simple and sincere in their feelings and thoughts, “having personality and an attitude, yet absolutely unpretentious.”
“I feel so at ease among them. Whenever I step into JAMs, there is an explosion of joy inside of me. At times, I simply cannot stop smiling.”
When it comes to cleaning soiled carpets, wiping off saliva and vomit, or even being “manhandled” by some of his charges, Lim dismisses these as part and parcel of being in this ministry. “I don’t see any of it as a sacrifice. It’s a calling, and God gives different measures of grace to different types of calling.”
This would seem to be the distinctive characteristic of a JAMs ministry volunteer—wanting not the recognition of selfless deeds, but for society to look upon people with special needs in a positive light.
While labels such as “violent,” “handicapped” and “pitiful” are often used to portray people with special needs, Lim believes that “they are generally gentler, more amiable and happier than ‘normal’ people.” He adds, “they are fun-loving, easily contented, and many of them lead meaningful and productive lives.”
In spite of the lack of public education and awareness when it comes to people with special needs, Lim is confident that JAMs is effectively playing a part in changing society’s perceptions, by giving these individuals a chance in life and allowing them the freedom of creative expression.
Lim is an obvious asset to JAMs. “Nic is our secret weapon,” says Lily Yong, supervisor for JAMs. “We’re proud of him.”