Contributed By Billy Ong
The work day has ended, and cars spill out of office buildings en route to happy hour. Most people look forward to hitting the malls to do a spot of shopping or a relaxing evening in front of the TV. For workers and volunteers of Jesus for All Minds, this is the time for home visitations.
JAMS is a ministry in City Harvest Church that serves people with special needs. With a force of 69 regular volunteers and four full-time workers, one of the most important pillars that builds the relationships between volunteers and JAMS members are home visitations.
Cher Jin Zhi, 27, an events executive, has been volunteering with JAMS for seven years now. “It takes time to build a relationship with the intellectually-challenged as well as with their family members,” he says.
Between eight to 10 visitations are done in a week, with the main objective of befriending and having a better understanding of their family backgrounds. JAMS volunteers also try to fill in any lack in the lives of the members’ families through little, seemingly insignificant ways. Cher describes them as little acts that go the distance.
“Once, we bought groceries for one of the members whose family was having a hard time financially. The parents were so touched to the point that there were tears in their eyes. It’s small acts of kindness like these that mean a lot to them.”
On Feb. 18, Cher visited two of the JAMS members’ homes in Serangoon and Sengkang. At his first stop in Serangoon, he visited Yip Kang Min, 21. Yip had been eagerly looking forward to the visitation all week. The family welcomed Cher warmly.
“Very often, we may be the only visitors who ever come to see them,” explains Cher. The gratitude of the family is visible. “It touches her parents’ hearts to know that there are others who care for their child besides themselves.” Parents of people with special needs go through tough challenges that others may not identify with. Home visitations by the volunteers aim to encourage these parents and offer a listening ear if needed.
|CN PHOTO: Michael Chan|
Later that same evening, Cher arrived at the home of his second and last visitation stop in Sengkang. He was met with another warm host. The mother of JAMS member, Chan Yu Da, brought out refreshments and thanked the team for visiting her son. She smiled as she watched her 15-year-old son enjoy the company of the JAMS volunteers. Each visitation helps build friendship and trust between the family members and the JAMs workers and volunteers.
While some of the home visitations, like these two, are relatively pleasant and relaxing, not all are the same. Cher remembers one early incident.
“One of the JAMS members’ parents was very stressed over their child. They asked me why God allowed their son to be born in this state,” relates Cher. It took many months of visits and building relationship with the parents to help them realize that although their child was born with special needs, his life can be meaningful and filled with purpose. This is one of the greatest fulfilments that JAMS volunteers experience during visitation—making a difference in people’s lives.
“Life is giving and taking. I give out my time, but it’s all worthwhile because I get back so much more in return. That’s what keeps us all going,” remarked Cher.