Sally is typical of thousands of foreigners who come to work in Singapore as domestic helpers. They contribute
to our welfare by freeing their employers from housework so that they can focus on their professions. Sally has been here three years looking after two young children.
"My mission here is to earn money for my family. But I also see my work as bringing Christ to the two children under my care. I help the children to speak the truth, to share their toys and to forgive each other. I engage them in activities that are good and help them to relate to God."
On their part Sally’s employers go the extra mile and support her efforts to enhance her skills at the ACMI skills training centre at Hillside Drive. These skills are the bonus she will bring home at the end of her stint here.
Taking the call to mission to a wider field is housewife Khin Kyi the Myanmese who has a special affinity with the young. She visits friends’ houses regularly to bring Jesus to the little ones through Bible stories. To improve her effectiveness, Khin Kyi hones her linguistic skills at FILODEP (Filipino On Going Development Program). This centre at Holland Road offers many other classes beside English, such as baking, cooking, dressmaking, facial and body massage, hairstyling and handicraft.
Mary, a volunteer teacher at FILODEP, sees the interaction between herself and her students as a two-way process.
"The mission of FILODEP is to give our mainly domestic helper community a chance to upgrade their skills. While I started off trying to fill a need, over time I have been greatly blessed by those I thought I was serving. Their cheerfulness and gratefulness uplift me greatly."
On a different socio-economic platform we have the foreign talent pool that contributes directly to our economy. Walk into any hospital and within five minutes you will hear the Filipino accent of a nurse or receptionist. Foreign workers also contribute to our finance, engineering and IT industries. Ronald Salem, who is here with his family from the Philippines, has been working in the finance sector for over two years. He sees his work as God’s loving gift to him and reaches out in gratitude to extend God’s love to others.
"I took part in the mission to teach English to the children in Rempang (Batam) as my way of showing the love of Christ to other people. And I would like to visit the children again to show that the love of Christ is alive."
Another field of interaction with migrant workers is the soup kitchen. ACMI and Matthew 25 each operate a soup kitchen. ACMI volunteers cook and pack food parcels for distribution to newly arrived construction workers three times a week for about six months till they have repaid their loans to their agents.
Matthew 25 epitomizes the spirit of mission at our doorstep. Set in the heartland of Hougang, this soup kitchen reaches out to God’s special people – the lonely, the hungry, the homeless. Its founders’ vision is that of a centre where people of all nationalities, races and religions can come and nourish their bodies as well as their spirits.
Besides catering to visitors at the centre, packed meals are sent out to collection points around Singapore, such as churches, the HDB heartlands and construction sites. Volunteers with bicycle, car or van chip in to bring the food to the distribution centres.
Yvonne, who oversees the operations, sums up the two-way exchange of benefits.
"We think we are giving them (the needy) food but God is using them to fill our spiritual void. It is they who are bringing us closer to God." - By Celestine Snodgrass