11 Oct 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
More than 1000 people came for the first Thanksgiving Dinner of Love Cheras at SJK (C) Chung Kwo School Hall in Pudu, to celebrate the good works done for the Cheras community over the past 20 years.
“I believe that a church should be without walls, building bridges rather than walls to reach the community as salt and light,” said Pr Lawrence Yap of Charis Christan Centre and co-founder of Love Cheras.
Love Cheras was germinated from the fellowship of four pastors from different churches in Cheras, which fellowship extended beyond its walls to helping the community in Cheras.
Having identified a very marginalized group in Sri Johor or Ikan Emas area, Love Cheras was moved to provide them free medical care in June 2009, with over 100 church members, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists volunteering. Subsequently, they also partnered with My Kasih in giving out monthly supermarket provisions for more than 100 families among this same group of people who received medical care. And finally, to equip them with financial independence, Love Cheras partnered with Malaysian Care and 1-Azam to provide financial literacy education and capital providence respectively for them to start small businesses.
The results had been promising in ending poverty among the poor since its launch. On Oct 2012, Love Cheras held their first 1-Azam Carnival, seeing 39 people becoming beneficiaries of 1-Azam on the carnival grounds. The beneficiaries not only received sponsored equipments by 1-Azam to start their businesses (i.e., baking oven, soya bean machines, sewing machines, etc.), vendors would also teach them how to operate the machines for immediate business start-up. This year, Love Cheras has identified 89 people, whose lives would be changed in joining of 1-Azam.
“The outreach of Love Cheras is tremendous, getting to the grassroots of the community, and knowing people from around the block,” said Madanjit Singh, Deputy Director of Jabatan Tenaga Kerja and representative of Pemandu.
Other efforts include Health Check in collaboration with National Kidney Foundation, Back to School Project, Home Visitation and House Cleaning, Neighborhood Cleaning, Parents’ Day concert, financial aid and tuition for poor students, community carnivals, youth camps, weekly training for housewives, and orphanage visitations.
With such far-reaching efforts, none of them would be possible without the unity of all churches in Love Cheras, which has now grown into 19 churches. Every month, pastors from all over Cheras would meet and fellowship in different churches.
“The fellowship is very meaningful because it provides a safe environment and platform to share the victories and the struggles we are going through,” said Pr Tommy Kong, Sr Pr of Emmanuel Assembly Church who recalled how they celebrated a memorable Christmas together by huddling together under a shelter in Taman Permaisuri Park in a rainy day.
Also, what made the Love Cheras fellowship exceptional is how pastors from both Chinese and English ministries will meet and unite in one fellowship. In fact, Pr Foo Moy Peng of KG112 –the first Chinese-ministry pastor to join Love Cheras– saw no cause of division between the Chinese and English ministry, but an opportunity to combine strengths of respective relationship-oriented and goal-oriented way of doing things.
And exemplified by the unity shown by their pastors, the church members from different churches across denominations will also proactively volunteer for projects held in Cheras. What unity among the churches, even among the members!
The thanksgiving dinner passed quickly as attendees move across tables to recount the wonderful memories in serving the people that God cherished the most. Indeed, history would change when churches would unite and come out of their four walls to help the poor and needy.