Devotionals, Faith, Issue 41

Sheltering The Homeless

Sheltering The Homeless

“We are four days away from Opening Day! We’ve found all the hosts required. We’ve reached our target for fundraising. All items required for donation have been secured. We are looking for people to host virtual Zoom prayers for this project. If God has placed in your heart to be an intercessor, please sign up …. Thank you and stay safe!”

I received the above message from the church’s WhatsApp chat during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period. It got me excited. A number of churches in Singapore, including the church where I’m worshipping, had decided to open up their doors to the homeless in response to the call for more help, as existing shelters for the homeless were hitting full capacity. I thought it was interesting that due to Covid-19 precautionary measures, we the church members had to be “chased out” of the church buildings, so that the homeless could be welcomed into God’s house, God’s shelter.

I was also encouraged by this ground-up initiative started by some younger church members, which grew quickly into a large team of volunteers, including the young and the old, and church leaders. I felt God impress on my heart to volunteer as a prayer host, alongside two other ladies, to facilitate daily 20-minute prayer sessions via Zoom. This would be our commitment, our contribution by being prayer intercessors, lifting up the shelter project’s guests, hosts and volunteers before God, together with others who joined us for the online prayer sessions.

As our church opened our doors as a shelter, we waited on God to bring the guests to us. One by one, they came. One was glad to finally have a mattress to sleep on. Another asked, “Why are you all (the hosts) so nice to me?” because no one had treated him so well before. The guests also enjoyed the biryani and nasi goreng delivered by the food volunteers. One lady faithfully helped with the laundry of the guests for weeks. Some church kids drew cards for the guests, which made their day. But the biggest highlight was the heartfelt conversations the hosts had with the guests, the sharing of life stories in a safe space, and the opportunities to speak hope into their lives.

All that was happening with this shelter project was like Hebrews 10:24–25 coming alive. In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, even though our church communities were physically isolated, we continued to spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together (because we went online instead and engaged with each other even more), but encouraging one another. What a powerful testimony to see the beauty of the church coming together in unity, rising up to the call to serve the homeless, and in so doing, being humbled ourselves as we experienced God’s heart of love and compassion for the marginalised.

After 51 days of being a church shelter for the homeless, with Singapore entering Phase 2 of re-opening, after much prayer and deliberation, it was decided that the shelter had to close. It had been a precious time with the guests, and the guests would move on to their next journey and accommodation.

Looking back, the call to respond in a time of crisis had brought the church closer together. Everyone played a part to make this shelter project a beautiful offering to God. We needed one another. Whenever a need arose, someone in the church community would respond to close the gap. One church member put it beautifully: “Thankful for God’s gift of community — in communion with the Father, held in unity by Jesus’ precious blood, moved to humble acts of love by the Holy Spirit.”

PRAYER

Dear God, thank You for the gift of church community, especially in a time of crisis. Open my eyes to see new ways in which I can reach out and contribute to the community with the gifts You have blessed me with. Amen.

REFLECTION TIME!

1. How have you been blessed by someone in your church community during the Covid-19 pandemic?
2. How can you bless someone in your church community during the Covid-19 pandemic?

DELVE DEEPER

Read and reflect on these passages on “Community”:
o 1 Corinthians 12:21–27 (members of the body)
o Galatians 6:2–3 (bear one another’s burdens)
o Matthew 18:21–35

HANDLES

To better understand the New Testament, familiarise yourself with the world of Jesus and the Gospel writers. Consider what life was like in 1st century Palestine (e.g. worldviews, societal norms, family structure, jobs, gender roles, food, weather etc.).

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