Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stomach, Telugu and Seeking the Spirit

Bro, are you at je? (JE = Jurong East) 
This is a MRT (Subway) stop in the west of Singapore.  

I wondering what it would be like.  As I stood there, I prayed a bit to seek the Spirit.  

I am reminded of the first time I went out to visit the poor in downtown Toronto in early 2008.  

  • What it would be like?
  • Would I shared elegantly?
  • What should I say?
I was getting the cold sweats.  My stomach wasn't feeling too well.  

For the past few Sundays, I've been attending a Telugu Service at Cornerstone.  I attended there because I heard they needed help the most.  Telugu is a group of people from southern India.  They came here looking to make money to send back home.  Their job was to rebuild ships.  They work everyday and lived in dorms.  Because of the high service fee to bring them to Singapore, they often have to work 2-3 years before they go back home.  

Most of those attend the church are 20-25 males.  If you are going to hire some hands for manual labor, you need them to be strong, young men that can work. 

The conditions from what the pastor told me is harsh.  Looking at the numbers of how much they earn and live is meager.  They make about $500/month.  From that, $120/month goes to food.  There were many other ways for them to spend their money.  Alcohol, drugs, prostitution.  

Those who came felt cheated.  They were sold a dream to make big money to help back home.  Instead, they came here and realize the living and working conditions were horrible.  The church offered them a sense of belonging, care and hope.  They have small groups every Sat night.  Saturday because they work shorter hours (up to 5 pm) during the weekend.

When the pastor asked me if I should go to visit a small group, I said why not.  

The plan was to meet at Jorong East MRT at 8 pm.  

Once I received the sms, I replied back.  We met up shortly.  One of the brothers serving as a leader in the church came and picked me up.  We would take a bus over to the dormitory.

Before coming, my stomach wasn't feeling too well.  I've been sick and it felt like what I had during dinner wasn't working with my stomach.  There were episodes of stomach ache.  I txt my girlfriend to pray for me.

"One of the brothers in the small group have a problem.  He is addicted to alcohol.  He won't admitted it."

The leader said as we sit in the bus.  Originally I planned to share about how I am saved with a liver transplant and I can do triathlon.  Instead, I changed my sharing to my love to drink when I was in University.

Someone in church today mentioned that Jurong East is like the end of Singapore.  In a way, it is true.  As the bus winded further and further west, we saw less buildings and less lights.  The bus, because it is going to where all the dorms are, were packed with men going back to their dormitories as well.

After 40 min or so, we got off.  Walking along a side road, we were in front of the dormitory.  A number of the believers were setting on the group.  As they saw us, they took out a mat and we sat together and shake each other hands.  They were very nice and gave me a bottle of water.

The cell group started off with a prayer.  Then it was my turn to speak.

I shared about my struggle with alcohol when I was in University.
I shared about how I thought I was in control when the reality was that it was in control of me.
I shared about how much pride and boastful I was in drinking.

I shared about how after becoming a Christian, the desire to drink dissipate.
I shared about the joy of knowing Christ.  He died for my sins (Romans 5:8).
I shared now I stopped drinking. I do not want to witness as a drunken anymore.

I don't know if what I said made a difference.  Conviction of sins is the works of the Holy Spirit.  I just shared how He changed my life.

Just as we were ending and about to pray, my stomach was starting to feel pain.  That's the similar pain I had in Cambodia.  I know sooner or later...probably sooner, it will want to come out.   So I went to the washroom.

As I came back, they were celebrating someone's b-day.  A cake was brought up and they offered me a piece. Knowing that I wasn't feeling too well, I thought about this.  I then remembered one lessons I learn during missions.  One of the scenarios were that you were a guest to someone's home and they offered you food that looked dirty.  Would you take it?

The correct is yes.  Knowing full well that you might get food poisoning, it's very disrespectful to refuse any food.

That was a scenario in a classroom.  Now I am learning it in real life.

I said a quick prayers and took the cake.  Because of the cream, it got worst. So that night I had to go a few times to empty my systems.

This might sound disgusting but the whole experience I am most thankful was God gave me an hour and a half of calm stomach so I could share.

I was tired when I reached home.  But there's joy in back to seeking the Spirit and encourage others.


1 comment:

Wai Jia said...

I'm so, so proud of you, Cliff. :)