21 Sept 2014 by Michelle Wong-
“Stop Hunger Now” is an international organisation from the USA, which has a branch in Malaysia. Every year, they partner with organisations to host meal packing events for the poor.
Early this year, a “Stop Hunger Now” meal packing event was hosted by 4 churches in Melaka: Straits Baptist Church, City Community Church, Real Love Ministry Fellowship, and Philadelphia Gospel Assembly. The purpose of the meal packing event was to connect and mobilise young adults from different churches to reach the impoverished communities. Starting in early 2014, the committee led by Melisa Chong, met regularly to make plans for 4 months, ending with a meal-packing day on the 5th of July 2014 at City Community Church. A packed meal contains rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavouring mix including 21 essential vitamins and minerals.
Funding came from corporate sponsors, church collections, friends, and was promoted on Facebook. The committee also sold T-shirts, car stickers, and organised “Run For The Hungry”, a 2km run in different routes in Melaka.
Melisa commented, “We really experienced God’s provision for this event. We are not big churches so raising a minimum RM25,000 in just over 2 months was a huge task! We thought a majority of our funds would come from corporate sponsors but it was actually individuals and church collections which contributed most. We also received more than double the amount of T-shirt orders we expected, raising more than RM35,000. Boy did we learn to trust God!”
The packaged meals were sent to CREST Malaysia, a Crisis Relief and Services Training organisation in Malaysia whose theme is “Bringing God’s love to the poor and needy in crisis.” They in turn will distribute the meals to impoverished communities in the country.
When asked why she was so passionate about reaching out to the poor, Melisa explained, “During my university days in Australia, I was exposed to the idea of community work in my church, and I felt drawn to reaching out to the poor. I always thought the poor are overseas like in Africa. It wasn’t until last year, when I visited a school in Sentul that gives education to children from really poor families that I met the poor in Malaysia.”
After meeting many children who live in deplorable living conditions, who are malnourished, whose parents can’t even afford to pay school fees and who themselves because of the environment they grow up in, find learning a challenge, Melisa was convicted.
“I was reminded of the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Lazarus was at the rich man’s gate waiting for what fell from the rich man’s table. The poor are right at our doorsteps! And too often when we help the poor, we give our leftovers. Sentul is less than 2 hours away from my home and I couldn’t believe such poverty could exist so close to home,” she added.
Melisa testified that undertaking the “Stop Hunger Now” Melaka project was challenging because all 9 committee members are working folks. Some decisions needed to be made during the day so their phones were busy. Besides, they also had to answer to their pastors. They had to coordinate people, events, etc. It required great responsibility and commitment, having to balance work, church ministries, and making themselves available. In the course of working, friendships were formed. “I must say this is one of the best committees I have ever worked with,” Melisa enthused.
The so-called Generation-Xs and the Gen-Ys volunteered for the packing. They are often stereotyped as the “Entitlement generation” who are selfish, materialistic, ambitious and worldly. But these selfless young people have proven the world wrong. There were also teens and older uncles and aunties who joined them as volunteers, totalling 130 persons from various churches working in 3 shifts. A total of 165 boxes with over 35,000 meals were packed and sent to CREST!
The committee has seen God’s hand in everything, from the fundraising, miraculously withholding the rain until “Run for the Hungry” was completed, and providing all resources and manpower. Everyone agreed, “All glory goes to God. Truly the poor has a special place in God’s heart!”
After the interview, Melisa has inspired me to also do my part in reaching out to the poor, corporately or on a personal level. God truly has a heart for the poor.
Printed on the back of the event T-shirts are these words of Jesus “…as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:40). God also promised, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD–and he will repay you!” (Prov. 19:17).
What could be better than a reward from God?
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