Pastor Maria Tok, who oversees CHC’s Dialect Servcice, shares the challenges of serving the elderly during this season of COVID-19, as well as her personal revelations of what God is doing at this time.
Pastor Maria Tok is the pastor-in-charge of City Harvest’s Dialect Service. The elderly congregation that her ministry serves make up the most vulnerable group in this outbreak. Hence, Dialect Services halted its weekend services since Jan 26.
Still, the well-being of her flock is very much something that Pastor Maria is concerned about, and she shares with City News how Dialect Service continues to serve its members.
“We really miss our elderly members,” she says. “Some of them have been calling us, or they get their children to call in to ask when we will start the service again. Personally, I miss the worship session, the strong presence of God when we worship corporately, and definitely, the big-group fellowship!”
Reaching out to the elderly while adhering to social distancing measures presents a number of challenges.
“The Dialect congregation consists of mainly senior citizens who are 60 and above, and many of them are in their 80s,” shares Pastor Maria. “They are not familiar with technology so doing online service is a challenge. As such, we pre-record our video sermons in Hokkien and Cantonese, and send it via WhatsApp, either to them or their children. We also send them an MP3 file with praise and Worship, so they can worship at home. For those who prefer to watch on YouTube, we also upload these video sermons and send them the YouTube link.”
While this requires adjustment from both the Dialect Service staff and the congregation, the pastor is of the opinion that this is the new reality. “I foresee that this will be a regular feature until the COVID-19 situation subsides, and after that, we will evaluate these online services and see if we will want to do them regularly to reach out to more elderly members who cannot attend service due to health or other reasons.”
WORKING FROM HOME: PERKS & REVELATIONS
“In this season when we are working from home most of the time, I’m either at home busy with sermon preparation or designing cards for the members,” reveals Pastor Maria. “We are starting our new weekly Dialect radio devotion with City Radio which commences first week of April. I am also spending more time reading, and getting on a regular routine to jog and cycle.
“Nowadays, I like to take long walks in the park and spending time talking to God, and hearing from Him. I have been reading Pastor Bill Johnson’s book, Hosting The Presence—I’m learning to be in the presence of God and hosting His presence in my life.”
Pastor Maria shares that with more time to enter into reflection and spend time with God, she has experienced revelations in her quiet time.
“One of the most powerful reflections I’ve had is in Psalms 23:5: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” A table is a place where there are fellowships and deepening of the relationship. During our hardest times, as we sit in this same table with the Lord, out of our deep relationship with Him will flow the life of victory over the work of the devil,” she says.
“I think in this period of time, we need to keep our faith strong,” she continues. Other than our daily devotion, we need to choose the right stuff that feeds your eyes, ears, and mouth. Eyes: set your eyes upon the Lord and not the troubles. Ears: choose to hear only the truth, and things that will build your faith. Mouth: eat the right things and stay physically healthy. Many times, when our health breaks down, our doubts about God’s goodness also start to set in.
“My prayer for the church comes the rhema word I received from Psalm 23:5: ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.’ During this trying season, let us continue to stay in close fellowship with the Lord, knowing He will anoint our head with oil. In farming, shepherds anointing the head of the sheep to bring healing and relief from pests that can blind the sheep’s eyes and drive them crazy. God anointing us means that He will protect and lead our path.
“Most importantly, believe that at the end of the day, we will have more than enough for all our needs.”