Parenthood can be daunting—especially for first-time mothers. This new CHC ministry aims to bolster assistance for women who need practical help as much as they do emotional support.
Launched on the weekend of Sep 4-5, the Nurturing Circle ministry focuses on reaching out to unwed mothers who are currently pregnant or have just given birth. The ministry aims to befriend, provide practical help and emotional support to these mothers.
Ever since Nurturing Circle was formed in September, it is currently helping nine unwed mothers, two of whom recently gave birth in October. All volunteers are females, and sales executive Aileen Ong, 42, is one of them.
JOURNEYING WITH SINGLE MUMS
In her early 30s, she went through a divorce and struggled as a single mum to her son for close to ten years. She received strong support from her cell group members, who helped to meet many of her needs. Today, she is happily remarried and has a second child aged 2. With her experience, she could empathise with the beneficiaries she is befriending. “I know motherhood is not easy. It takes time and I want to journey alongside with these mums, to let them know support is available,” she shares.
As part of the ministry, Aileen volunteers at the Safe Place, an initiative of Lakeside Family Services that provides a residential respite for pregnant women who need a temporary place to stay. She spends her time chatting with the women staying there, and helps to feed babies so that mothers can have some rest.
Together with her cell group member Natali Lim, Aileen is also helping a single mother who gave birth via Caesarean in October. They helped to fetch her to and fro the hospital for delivery and discharge, and also when she had a post-op infection and needed to be warded for another three days. The volunteers delivered essentials when they visited her home, and Aileen even boiled longan red date tea for her.
Through a group chat with Veronica Tang, the pastor that oversees The Nurturing Circle, and the volunteers, the single mother is able to share her struggles and medical follow-up schedule. The team would try to meet her needs and make time to accompany her for medical visits. Recently, the single mother shared with them that when she is emotionally stronger, she would want to help other unwed mothers too.
Aileen shared, “It can be emotionally draining, physically tiring and painful for the single mother, but the team constantly prays for her. We also learnt to respect her privacy without probing too much. I also feel God is training me to be more patient and gracious. Raising children now is very different from how it was in the past, and we cannot think that our ways are definitely the right ways.”
MEETING THE NEEDS OF NEW MUMS
For Natali, a sales manager in her 40s and a mother of three, she was moved to sign up as a Nurturing Circle volunteer the moment she heard Pastor Veronica sharing about it at church. When Natali first became a mother, she had to learn everything hands-on, without much support or resources. She enjoyed it so much, that she even thought of being a confinement nanny or lactation consultant after retirement.
“Hearing about the ministry, I felt it was in a way God answering my prayer. There is such a sense of fulfilment. Even though we need to invest a lot of time to meet the needs of the unwed mothers, seeing both mother and baby grow is a wonderful feeling,” she shares.
Another Nurturing Circle volunteer is Crystal Goh, a project manager at a bank who turns 31 this year and has a daughter who is 16-months-old. A cell group leader from Lim Meng Chin’s zone, Crystal is a part of the zone’s Whatsapp chat group where experienced mothers provide new mothers with any support they need. Crystal, who herself experienced breastfeeding challenges, found the support group extremely helpful in rendering practical, first-hand advice.
Having gone through the journey of a new mother, she felt she was positioned to help—especially since she had received so much help from others. “I was super touched and even teared when Pastor Veronica shared about this new ministry. When I was pregnant, I had information overload from attending so many webinars about pregnancy and babycare,” Crystal recalled. “But once I gave birth, I realised the emotional support from my friends and fellow mothers was so much more helpful than the information from webinars.”
Crystal also shared that she experienced blood loss complications after she gave birth, and had to undergo a second operation. She recalled feeling helpless, and cried uncontrollably when wheeled out of the operating theatre. During her five-day stay in the hospital, her pastoral supervisor Meng Chin and his wife constantly prayed for her and encouraged her. They would even video call her at times. This strengthened her and helped her realise that support was important for new mothers.
Together with Pauline Kong, a pastoral supervisor in CHC, Crystal is reaching out to a teenage mother who gave birth last year. At each home visit, they spend a couple of hours chatting, and recently started having Bible study sessions. Having attended Children’s Church and youth camps in the past, the teenage mother felt that God never let her go, and her friends from church had continued to keep in touch with her.For Aileen, Natali and Crystal, they find great purpose and joy in serving and sharing what they can to help new mothers. Natali shares, “The unwed mothers are very brave to see the pregnancy through. I hope this ministry has longevity, so more people can be helped.”