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Dear COA Family,

Recently, after a late-night meeting in church, I met an old Malay lady struggling to walk up the slope leading to our church. She was hobbling with a walking aid in her right hand and pushing a trolley with her left while using it as a support. She seemed to be breathless just taking slow steps up the slope.

As I was wondering what she was doing in church so late at night, the Holy Spirit prompted me to help her. So I asked if I could drive her home in the church van but she declined. She asked instead to be dropped off at the nearest bus stop to take 142. She had difficulty even climbing up into the van.

During the trip, she told me in halting English of her plight at home. She not only had to struggle with pain in both of her feet, she had to take care of an ailing husband at home. She was very grateful for the ride.

The next day, I inquired among the canteen vendors about her. It turns out that she was working in one of the stalls in the secondary school canteen. And I recalled that I had seen her hobbling out of school after school hours in the afternoon. I felt sorry and was convicted about my lack of awareness of her struggles even though she was part of the community of the St Andrew’s Village.

How often are we oblivious to the struggles of people around us whom we encounter but do not know personally? We may see them regularly, even daily, but do not know of their family situations or personal needs. We may be too focused on our own needs to notice others around us.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not asking us to be busybodies to involve ourselves in the affairs of others. Yet there is a certain level of care and concern that God calls us to extend to others. This is because of His love of us and them as well.

The Apostle James tells us:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

In other words, we do have to take the initiative get to know the needs of needy around us and not turn a blind eye to them. We need to extend care to them as part of our practice of the Christian religion and not be inward looking. These are especially precious in God’s sight and God specially looks after their welfare.

May the Lord help us to live out our faith in most meaningful and practical ways this coming week by opening our eyes to the needs of the needy around us!

Revd Ian