17 Sept 2014 by Adeline Lum CM-
On 6th of September, Malaysian CARE had its first 35th Anniversary celebration at the Wesley Methodist Church in Kuala Lumpur with more than 500 people.
Dr David Wong, Chairman of Malaysian CARE, gave a welcoming speech, thanking all staff, partners, donors, and volunteers of CARE over the years.
“The work of looking after the poor is huge because there are still pockets of people who are really in need. God has commissioned us to share the good news and to encourage the poor and needy,” said Dr David.
A video highlighting their milestones over the 35 years was shown, before Rev Pax Tan, former director of Prison, Drugs, and AIDS of CARE read a speech written by Rev Wong Kim Kong, founding chairman of Malaysian CARE, who was unable to come to the event.
“Malaysian CARE will leave behind a legacy of social concern of the church. It is the most honorable and exemplary ministry of the holistic mission of the Church,” said Wong, elaborating on CARE’s ethos that include indigenous in entity, evangelical in theology, ecumenical in involvement, holistic in approach, integrated in service, and partnership in caring.
Like the Word of God that came to prophet Joel, Wong shared that the rich testimonies of people whose lives are changed through CARE, are memorial stones of God’s practical and tangible love for them. (Joel 1:1-3)
Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in our days or in the days of your ancestors? Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:1-3)
Alex Low Siew Meng, former drug addict and death-sentenced prisoner, shared how his life was changed after accepting Christ at a Christmas celebration in prison. He prayed to God for a second chance, to which God answered by changing the sentence to nine years imprisonment and 20 whips. By then he had already served more than nine years. So, he was released after the whipping. Upon release, he was introduced to Petros Residential, a halfway home that helps discharged prisoners and ex-drug dependents find their way back into the society.
“I saw the efforts of the staff in Petros. Their love really touched me and made me curious. I am not their friend or relative. I don’t have any money. They even took me to see the doctor. How they offered themselves is what the Bible teaches,” said Alex.
After staying in Petros Residential for two years, Alex has learned how to read the Bible, having known little English. Today, Alex runs a chicken rice shop having learned the ropes from a brother-in-Christ. The Lord has also blessed him with a beautiful wife and a child.
“This is my experience. Like God says, ‘It’s not possible for human, but it is possible with Me.’ I believe I will continue to live a life that will glorify God and benefit other people,” said Alex.
Chong Tat Shan, a mother of a son with special needs, came on-stage next to thank CARE for walking with her in raising her child. Since her son joined the work-base centre in CARE last year, she has seen her son improving in his social skills.
Wong Young Soon, Executive Director of CARE, followed by presenting their visions and future efforts.
For the next few years, CARE will be emphasizing their efforts more on the indigenous people of East Malaysia who are mostly poor people. The efforts include helping them to set up financial cooperatives of their own and run sustainable agricultural projects to advance their rural development. With a base of four staff in Sabah currently, they will also be working with the local churches to provide services for children and adults with special needs, which were lacking.
Another area CARE will be focusing on is youth development, specifically for the youths in the poor community area and in the juvenile prisons. In the poor community areas, CARE is holding community sports program to engage children with good values, which they hope to protect them from the influence of criminal gangs. In the juvenile prisons, CARE is coaching the youths there through character-building sessions, followed by counseling facilities to assist the youths who are released from prison.
Another initiative they are engaging in is the Financial Literacy Program (FLP), which targets on low-cost flat and squatter communities to reduce poverty. Today, they have seen more than 800 people who went through FLP with 15 churches and Christian NGO partners. CARE is also working with government agencies such as Bank Negara and PEMANDU to provide more economic resources for the poor community to start a business. They hope to contextualize this program for the people in East Malaysia.
Seeing the success of FLP, CARE has also produced a book called Kursus Kewangan Komuniti for the participants of FLP. And on this day of CARE’s 35th Anniversary, the book is officiated by Amelia Leong representing World Vision Malaysia, KL Lum representing Network for Economic Transformation, and Dr David Wong representing Malaysian CARE.
As a voice for the poor and marginalized as well, CARE is also at the forefront of running a campaign against corruption, called the EXPOSED campaign, which impacts the poor the most. They are also passionate in defending the rights of Orang Asli on their lands.
Lastly, Young Soon shared CARE’s milestone of having partnered with a Christian university in Australia to provide a Master’s degree in Aids and Development. They have currently 22 students studying for this program, coming from across the region of Southeast Asia.
The celebration service ended with the presentation of long-service awards to the staffs of CARE, including the 5-year-award for Bah Junjong, community worker in Ladang MCare, and Samuel Lim, Leader in the Prison, Drugs, and AIDS Services; 10-year-award for Leong Hap Choy, Acting Assistant Director for Rural and Development Services; 20-year-award for Yap Khen Siong, Receptionist for CARE Headquarters; 25-year-award for Rev Wong Kheang Wook, a Board member General-Secretary; and finally, 30-year-award for Rev Pax Tan.
The guests adjourned for a scrumptious dinner and a lively carnival with merchandize and food stalls by clients and partners of CARE. The stalls were held in partnership with Friendship Club KL, Bloomers Training Centre, Siloam House, Community Clients, Koperasi Sengoi Pribumi Perak, Tanma Federation, and Peace Charis Rehabilitation Centre.
In conjunction of their 35th anniversary, look out for CARE’s testimony every week for the next 35 weeks on their website and Facebook!
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All pictures are credited to Stanley Wo