On 5 September 2020, a group of young adults took 14 children from Promise Home, aging between 10-17 years old, to a waterfall at Sungai Gabai, Hulu Langat. The trip was truly refreshing for me, not just because the water was freezing, but mainly because I was reminded of the life mission that God has called us to.
I went on the trip having little knowledge of Promise Home; I only knew that it was a home to 55 Orang Asli children, who were cared for by one Pastor Iris Kim and in need of funds or groceries during the Movement Control Order. However, I subsequently met Ellen, who left her village in Slim River at 17 years old, to help Pastor Iris look after the children at Promise Home for the past nine years. Ellen currently attends bible college on weekdays while juggling ministry at Promise Home, and hopes to minister to the unreached villages in Ipoh!
Ellen explained that Promise Home was established by Pastor Iris to provide Orang Asli children with access to education. Pastor Iris ministers to the Orang Asli in Ipoh and Slim River, while her husband ministers to those in Sabah – this is what you call a power couple. In the course of Pastor Iris’ ministry, she brought the children from the villages at Ipoh and Slim River, to the homes at Kota Kemuning and Puchong where the children are provided with shelter and a conducive environment to study.
The children at Kota Kemuning are currently attending schools or colleges, whereas Pastor Iris would home school the children in Puchong, as they are illiterate and need to be prepared for school. During the school holidays, Pastor Iris will transport the children, with the help of volunteers, to visit their families at the villages. However, outside classes on usual days, the children carry out chores, learn how to plant, and participate in bible studies and fun activities organized by Promise Home and various volunteers. Our group of young adults decided to bring the children to Sungai Gabai as one of their weekend activities.
During our journey to Sungai Gabai, we had to drive through green hills and rural villages, which Ellen and the children said, reminded them of home. The children enjoyed playing at the waterfall in Sungai Gabai, and told us that there are waterfalls at their villages. That was when I realized that the children miss their families and lifestyle at their villages, but had to temporarily leave those behind to obtain education. Spending time with the children showed me that they enjoy the same things we enjoy, but do not have access to the opportunities that we have.
Hearing about Pastor Iris, her husband and Ellen’s heart to evangelize and care for the unreached people groups deeply encouraged and convicted me. They were pouring their entire lives to care for the total welfare of the Orang Asli – their spiritual, physical and social welfare. Spending time with the children also reminded me that there are people with needs in our city. These children live close to our neighbourhoods, but are far apart from their families and homes and relying on the public’s financial support to fund their education. Do we reach out for the needy and the lost in our communities?
Living in the fast-paced city of Kuala Lumpur, it is easy to be concerned about career progression, finances and ‘third world problems’. While people are losing jobs and struggling to afford groceries during the Movement Control Order, some of us complain about how we are sick of eating home-cooked food and look for places to travel. This is not wrong but, it shows that we live in the comfort of our own bubble. I realized that I have been caught up with living for myself and the cares of this world, and often forget my greater calling of discipleship.
In James 1:27, we learn from James that one of the tests of true religion is, to visit orphans and widows (i.e., the needy) in their affliction. Jesus also taught that anyone who has been touched by the grace of God would help the needy (Matt 5:43-6:4). We do not necessarily have to be missionaries like Pastor Kim, or to attend bible college like Ellen, in order to serve and evangelize. We can already love our neighbours with the gifts that God has provided us and in the circumstances where God has placed us. Are we witnessing to our unbelieving colleagues or family members? Do our money trail usually lead to donations? Are we caring for the sick in our church?
Let us bring God’s peace and prosperity of our city, instead of seeking our own, by sharing our faith and resources with our neighbours.