Isn’t it good to know that love is still alive in the midst of a crisis? City News spoke to some members of City Harvest Church who diligently sought ways to show love to others.
What does it take to look beyond one’s own comfort and consider another person’s well-being during a pandemic? Without love, everything a Christian does is meaningless. In fact, that is CHC’s very motto: to love God fervently and to love people fervently. Since the pandemic broke in late January, members of the church have been looking for needs that they can meet, and showing love to one another.
When safe distancing was just starting, cell groups like E565 and N491, who reached out to NCID healthcare workers and health cleaners in Sengkang with care packages, while W491 mounted a campaign to bless taxi drivers with care packs that included NTUC vouchers and hand sanitizers.
When the Circuit Breaker was announced and just about everyone stayed home, we started to see gifts of food being delivered to friends, ministry and cell group members. ET Zone (under Pastor Edmund Tay) even started a #ETSHN movement of sending goodies to one another within the zone—bringing on much delight and so many smiles!
City News spoke to some CHC members who are doing what they can to bring the love of Christ to others, both in and outside the church.
THEY SEWED MASKS & GAVE THEM AWAY
At the start of the pandemic, Anzoe Sim, 28, and Grace Wong, 39, encountered taxi-drivers and private-hire drivers who were working without a face mask. Some of them had no time to go out and buy some, and others were just not able to get their hands on any.
“We wanted to have some reusable masks with us at all times, so that if we ever encountered people like them, we can give them a mask,” Anzoe explained. “After that, we started thinking about those who are homeless or from low-income households, and are not able to afford surgical masks. We wanted to just do this for whoever needed a mask.”
Grace added, “When we take a Grab car, the poor drivers just don’t have enough time to go and buy masks, and theirs is an essential service, but they are at risk every day they drive different people around. So I started carrying an extra surgical mask to give to these Grab drivers. It came to a point I realized that I couldn’t keep doing this—buying new masks. They were not cheap, and also I had difficulty getting new boxes of masks at that point. So I thought, why don’t I do something within my means? What I can do is to sew and I have fabric.”
Besides sewing cotton face masks and giving them out, Grace also came up with a pattern and a simple step by step diagram for sewing face masks. “I posted that on my social media account, so that whoever needed it could just use the instructions to create a mask. And if they needed a mask, they could contact me too. That’s how it began.”
Fabric masks are useful and effective to preventing the spread of viruses when used with a non-permeable layer, such as the material wet wipes, or cleaning wipes are made of. The masks can be washed, and the inner layer reused.
Right after Anzoe and Grace started this initiative, the government started giving out re-usable masks to every household in Singapore. “So we thought well, maybe ours would be like a backup or stand by.”
On her own, Grace also signed up with Sew With Love, a community effort that creates masks for children, as they need much smaller masks than adults. Some of the masks she sewed went to young kids or low-income families who needed them.
“To be honest, I only have one person asking for a mask—most of them are asking me to sell it to them. But we did sew some for our own family members before the government gave out the free masks. My mom works in a clinic, so she needed masks. My dad is a cab driver so he also needs masks. Before the Circuit Breaker began, I also made some for my sister and my brother-in-law, who are essential service workers,” explained Grace.
Anzoe added, “We are happy to give the masks out, even though not many people ask us for donations. So what we intend to do is to put up a listing on Etsy and it costs nothing. We’re not in this for profit. So if there are people reading this story who need masks, just approach either me or Grace and we’ll send one to them.”
“The Bible always says it’s always blessed to give than to receive,” she continued. “We are blessed because we can continue doing what we like, knowing that there are people out there that are being helped by what we do.”
HE PROTECTED THEIR EARS
Masks are absolutely necessary at this time, but for those who have been wearing masks all will tell you just how uncomfortable it can be on the tops of the ears. Daniel Poh, 35 thought of a way to relieve this discomfort.
“Before the Circuit Breaker kicked in, my cell group had this community outreach where we blessed taxi drivers with NTUC vouchers and hand sanitizers,” he said. “I feel that now that we are in the midst of the Circuit Breaker season, there must be something we can do to help and contribute back to society.”
Daniel saw social media posts of people using their 3D printers to make “ear-savers”—these short plastic strips help protect the ears from chafing when wearing a mask for long hours. Since he had a 3D printer at home, he used the designs available online and printed some ear-savers.
He tested out these ear-savers by printing a few hundred pieces and giving them to his wife, a healthcare worker at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, so that she could distribute them to her colleagues. “I also gave two bags of these ear-savers to my neighbor who works at Sengkang Hospital, and I put some in the lift of my block of flats for my neighbors.”
Daniel also noticed that the hawkers and care ambassadors were wearing masks for long hours, and gave the ambassadors ear-savers for the hawkers they meet.
Those who used the ear-savers said it brought them instant relief from chafing.
“If there are any healthcare workers or people who work at coffee shops who need this, I am happy to print these to bless them,” said Daniel. You can reach Daniel via his Instagram account @dpyz
ENCOURAGING BUSINESS OWNERS AFFECTED BY COVID
Last Thursday, Pastor Wu Yuzhuang invited Elim Chew to speak to the business owners in CHC. While those of us who are salaried face various problems and limitations—maybe even pay cuts or job losses—the difficulties faced by those who run a business and have employees are different, and in some cases, complex.
Elim, who owns buffet restaurant chains GoroGoro and I M Kim with her siblings, has herself faced a series of problems as the Circuit Breaker has kept diners home. However, she shared with the business owners on the Zoom session that it was important to look at things with a different perspective.
“We shared about all our businesses and what we are doing during this time; we shared ideas and tips on how to overcome this time of challenge,” said Elim. “We also talked about how we can connect, and help each other with our own networks.”
Elim explained that it is important at this time to “see the opportunities in the coming new social economy. We should not just be concerned about building the economy but also think about the social impact we can have when the Circuit Breaker ends.
“I shared with the business owners how God led us through SARS and the Asian financial crisis, and each time we came out even better than before,” she added.
Elim talked to the group about the importance of tithing. “God tests our discipline of giving,” she said. “Also much of what our breakthrough is also through giving our very best, for both business and in personally meeting the needs of people.”
It may be hard to see the good in all this, but Elim believes that “COVID-19 is a reset to base level, and we have the opportunity to ride the tides upwards when the opportunity arises again. We have to take this time to prepare our skills and hone our experience, so that we are ready when the opportunities come.”