《患难见真神》救灾回应讲习会 – 文冬
2008年4月12 日早上9时，我们一行人平安到达文冬（彭亨）。这是一个坐落于吉隆坡及淡马鲁之间的一个小镇。一进入这小镇，迎面而见就是那热闹的市集，看见那里的居民们购买新鲜的肉，鱼，蔬菜和水果。这些商家可能是与他们一起长大的。吃过了一顿丰富的早餐—牛肉面，一道不可错过的当地美食，我们于9.30am到达了文冬卫理公会。CREST 的Dr Ng Swee Ming 和Lana Wong已在那教会里设立视听设备。经过简短地互相介绍后，我们也赶紧地加入他们的筹备工作。
Disaster Response And Relief Seminar, Bentong.
At 9.00 a.m. on the morning of 12th April 2008, we arrived at Bentong, a small town that sits almost exactly halfway between Kuala Lumpur and Temerloh. We were greeted by the bustle of a morning market, where the locals source their fresh supply of meat, fish, vegetables and fruits from the traders they probably grew up with.
We arrived at Bentong Methodist Church at 9.30 a.m. after a hearty breakfast of beef noodles, a must-try local delicacy. Dr Ng Swee Ming and Lana Wong from CREST (Crisis Relief Services & Training) were already in the church setting up the audio visual requirements for the day. After a brief introduction of ourselves, we too quickly joined them in the preparation.
At ten to 10:00 a.m. (the time when the seminar was scheduled to begin), one by one, members of the church and neighbouring churches came in and looked for seats. The participants were a blend of youngsters (aged between 15-22 years old) and mature adults (aged between 35-45 years old). Of course there were a couple of retires too.
As we watched them chatting away, we asked ourselves if the topic of Disaster and Crisis made any sense to them. Did they come on a Saturday morning to pass time, to be entertained by a group of KL-lites, city folks who speak differently and perhaps this is entertaining. In a quiet small town where everyone knows everyone, it’s probably one of the regular gatherings after breakfast; folks catching up on whose chickens were knocked down by a car or uncle nine’s son marrying aunty seven’s daughter. Would a topic on Disaster and Crisis bring any meaning to this group of participants, who probably think that rain on a Sunday morning where a weekend market is scheduled to open, a disaster!
When close to 30 participants were seated comfortably, the church Pastor gave a welcoming speech and introduction to the guest speakers (Dr. Ng, Lana, Pastor Andrew). Time was quickly passed on to a sister who led us in a time of worship with songs. At 10.30 a.m., the first session of the day began with Dr. Ng and Pastor Andrew as the interpreter. Dr. Ng explained that one of the means to fulfill the Great Commission is via Christian Disaster Response. The Christian churches have in the past responded to Crisis or Disaster by collecting donations from members, mobilizing members to provide assistance as and where needed, prayer coverage, allowing the use of church premise as relief centres, cooking, delivering food and supplies, blood donation, etc.
However, there are limitations to the support rendered by Christian churches today. Christian volunteers were not prepared or equipped to respond effectively to disaster victims, time which was critical to reach the needy was also required to raise support in cash and kind and there was lack of tangible “unity” within the body of Christ ie. When churches of different denominations render assistance in isolation.
While participants listened attentively, more was shared on how Christian churches and individuals can get involved in this ministry. The action steps proposed were as simple as volunteering oneself to be trained in Basic Disaster relief works.
As the day’s session paused for tea and lunch breaks, we took the opportunity to mingle with the participants. Casual chats during break times indeed proved to be insightful. The brothers seemed eager to initiate relief efforts and participate immediately. Though less exposed to the news and updates on disasters and crisis of the world, we were impressed by the enthusiasm exuberated from these participants. Their response was truly exemplary to many urban and city churches who were comfortable and complacent with staying in air-conditioned halls and comfortable pews equipped with state-of-the-art audio visual equipments, instead of going out to the world, to bring an act of kindness or to show love in a dying world.
Disaster relief works can be one of the most effective ways of fulfilling the Great Commission, as stated by Dr. Ng at the start of the session. How true when you think about simple acts of love like feeding the hungry in a war-stricken country, providing shelter to the homeless, playing with the children who have been made orphans because their parents died in a trapped building after an earthquake. When these victims feel the touch of love tangibly, they’re nearer to the love extended by a Sovereign Creator of Heaven and Earth. In fact, Jesus Himself said in Matthew 25: 35-40, “When you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.”
By Pei Yiing