One cell group leader shares how the simple act of serving revitalized her group.
Leading a cell group of young working adults, I was beginning to feel a “holy dissatisfaction”. At City Harvest Church, we receive so much goodness week in and week out, yet we sometimes become indifferent about giving back. My members and I decided to serve as together as a cell group, and to begin at one of CHC’s Church Without Walls ministries, the Jesus for All Minds (JAMs) Church.
On March 20 this year, we met pastor Lily Yong, who oversees the JAMs Church, before a JAMs service. She armed us with basic knowledge about this very special group of people, who have autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome or other developmental issues, and explained that they have shorter attention spans and may scream or walk about during the service.
Inside the hall, a dedicated team of song leaders and musicians were just wrapping up their practice to get ready for the pre-service prayer meeting. Lay ministry members took turns to share their “devotional thoughts” for the week, before service began. The service was every bit as filled with the presence and joy of God as any CHC service. Pastor Lily preached a message about keeping our lives simple, as it is the blessed and blissful state for every Christian to live in. Simplicity is everything JAMs Church epitomizes and being part of it for a few hours simplified our hearts so much!
We noticed that many of the members moved about a lot, and some would shout during worship or the sermon—I learned that shouting is their way of expression. I thought, “If I were on that platform sharing the word now, I would be feeling like I have not engaged the people and that I’m a lousy preacher.” Yet, I saw JAMs worker Adiel Choy preaching with such passion, clarity and conviction. She was not at all distracted by the “holy” ruckus—I am sure it was a beautiful “mess” in God’s eyes!
At the end of the service, I asked Adiel, “Do you wonder if they get everything you are telling them?” And Adiel replied: “That is why we constantly remind ourselves not to play God. God is God, and He has His ways of touching them.” Her words transformed my thinking: I wondered how much I have “played God” in my own life, and when I serve as a cell group leader.
It was a precious experience for our cell group: the JAMs members lavished us with so many handshakes and hugs; they cheered loudly when our visit was announced; they even remembered our names! During praise, they shouted and clapped with all they had, for the God of their lives. We were so touched to see all that Pastor Lily and her team, including Adiel and Santhi Singaram do for their members: it was pure love. We experienced more “heart” in that small hall than we normally do in much larger auditoriums.
At the end of the service, a sweet girl came up to me and with the smile of an angel, she exclaimed, “Bye, Cynthia! I remember your name!” When I asked for hers, with a childlike glimmer in her eyes, she said, “I will tell you next week!”