Isabel Sim is a volunteer with Jesus for All Minds, a ministry to the intellectually-disabled. Coming from a difficult background, Isabel shares what serving the JAMs members has taught her.
Jesus for All Minds is a place full of love. Each time I see the members kneeling down to worship God with all their heart, I feel deeply moved in my heart. I want to learn to love the Lord the way they do, coming before Him in simplicity, purity and truth.
I grew up in a family without love. My father gambled a lot and would beat us up. My mother struggled with depression and had to work hard to provide for our family. Because of that, my siblings and I spent half of our childhood in a children’s home.
After a few years, we returned home to our parents, but by then, I was not used to them and felt uncomfortable in their presence. My insecurity, my depression and anxiety, gave me insomnia. I learned not to care about people because I did not want to commit to anyone, in case they failed me.
When I was in the children’s home, I met a social worker who told me that Jesus loves me a lot and cares deeply for me. I came to City Harvest Church when I was 16. God’s love set me free. It softened my hardened heart. In His tangible presence, I surrendered all my brokenness in exchange for His healing. Now, I can receive love, and with His grace, possess the capacity to love again.
In the same way that I found the love of Christ in the midst of my difficult childhood, I wanted to show the same kind of love to those who, like me, feel different, and to embrace them for who they are. I started serving in JAMs ministry in 2017 because I felt led to serve in a place where I could expand my love and meet the needs of others.
Initially, I was a little apprehensive because the members’ behavior can be a little unpredictable. But as I began to serve, I started to understand their behaviors and emotions. Now, I have come to know each of them and appreciate their uniqueness. I have also learned to communicate with them in a way that they can understand me. They call us “Teacher”, but in reality, we learn from each other.
One day, I shared my testimony on my school results and opened up about my struggles in transiting to university. On the way home on the bus, one of my members, Fern said to me, “Teacher, don’t worry, I will pray for your studies.” She may not have understood the full context of what I shared, but her simple act of feeling my sadness and wanting to pray for me was a huge encouragement to me.
Once, I visited Veronica, another JAMs member. She wanted to make a keychain for me that spelled out my name in beads. She cannot see very well, so I watched her picking up each bead, holding it close to her eyes, and slowly stringing the beads together to form the six letters of my name. I knew that she had put in much effort and love, spending hours on it. I was beyond touched. Through their little acts of kindness and genuine concern, both Fern and Veronica had shown me what a family is and will do for one another. These precious ones’ simplicity and genuine acts of love for me are beyond what I have expected. I always thought that to serve is to give, but I too have received so much more as I serve in JAMs.
Through serving in JAMs, God also blessed me to know a very caring sister in Christ, Santhi. Her capacity to love inspires me. She lives out one of our CHC core beliefs of “Find a hurt and heal it; find a need and meet it:” in her daily life. Santhi often checks on me and she has been there for all the important milestones of my life. I often confide in her and she listens to me; her prayers and advice often encourage me. I never knew that a ministry leader could go to such lengths to love me for who I am.
Looking back, I can only thank God for bringing me into CHC and giving me the opportunity to experience family. God brought JAMs into my life and through my fellowship with all the JAMs staff and members, I finally can testify that I have a wonderful spiritual family that I never thought was possible for me. I am who I am today because of Him!