14 April 2013 by James Hoh CM-
Pastor Sia Siew Chin is a gentle and soft-spoken lady who depends on a wheel chair to get around. Yes, she is a disabled person yet what she has done far exceeds what many able persons can. She has opened eight disabled homes in Malaysia. The eighth branch will be opened in Puchong this year. In spite of her physical disadvantage, she demonstrates determination and vision. Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled is founded by this 'iron lady'.
The name was taken from the famous passage in The Book of Acts 3 where a lame man was healed, he jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
The amazing story of Beautiful Gate started when Methodist Church of Malaysia set up a ministry for the disabled in 1993 by having only visitations and classes. They decided to set up Beautiful Gate in 1995 in SS2, Petaling Jaya to give it a base and permanency. Today, the flagship centre and headquarters is still being operated there.
The good work of the centre began to be known and soon, more disabled people came forward for help. Churches of different denominations pooled in their resources and Beautiful Gate grew progressively. Today it is a network of seven branches – in Kepong, Klang, Puchong, Seremban, Malacca, Sitiawan and Kampar.
It is a beacon of hope for about 700 disabled persons living and working there. The word "disable" does not seem to be congruent to the residents there. They are far from dependent and helpless. The centres are hubs providing transport, job placement, counselling and welfare services.
Superintendents, who are also disabled persons, oversee the branches. Therefore, these disabled persons do not have any reasons to say, ‘the Superintendent don’t understand me because I am disabled.’ So the job is made easier.
“Going back 20 years, disabled persons are seen as a burden to society. There were no human rights for the disabled. Those fortunate would just receive welfare aids and help from the community, that’s all,” Pastor Sia said.
"But the Bible says that we are created in God’s image and we are equal. But this is not reflected in our society today."
So after she graduated from Seminari Theologi Malaysia (STM), Pastor Sia approached the Methodist Church to discuss how to help disabled persons going to church as most of them were unable to do so because churches had no facilities to help them
“Their family left them behind mostly because it was too inconvenient to bring them along. That’s why when we started this ministry, many churches supported our move,” she explained.
Beautiful Gate SS2 has three houses in the same area. Asked why she chose the prime location in that area, she explained that it is the ministry’s aim for the disabled to live independently.
"They have to develop social and working skills and pursue basic education to live independently. They could also go to the nearby wet-market easily. The Beautiful Gate in SS2 is just the right location," she said.
”We are very grateful that God has been our provider all these years. God has provided for our daily needs but we really want more people to come and work together with us
“Beautiful Gate can provide the training but after we have empowered the disabled for some years, they will have to go back to the society, for that’s where they must find acceptance.
"We need many volunteers and churches to help the disabled to assimilate into the society, not only giving them jobs but also friendships and care.”
Pastor Sia challenged Christians to walk their faith by showing acceptance and care to the disabled. Besides that, churches can build facilities for the disabled bearing in mind that these facilities could be used by the temporary disabled and elderly too.
According to her, most public schools are not prepared to take in the disabled. For example, the disabled are not able to go to the toilet and parents will have to come to school to change diapers for them every two to three hours. That is why most of the disabled don’t have any education in this country.
“The Government has promised to help but despite the promise, only a few schools are having disabled-friendly facilities. These two to three schools have such facilities because we really petition for them.
“Christians must show their love and care to us, the disabled. This action is a very important testimony to the people of the world that Christians actually walk the talk,” she added.
Pastor Sia's compassion for the disabled, coupled with determination and vision, has moved mountains so to speak, for the disabled under her wings.
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