Transformation

Transformation Of the Community Through Care and Concern

 “You raise me so I can soar like eagles,,,  You raise me up to more than I can be.”   In the darkened theatre, the voice of a young autistic boy rang out with those beautiful words.

Tears stung my eyes  as I thought of the 2 (autistic) boys we have had the priviledge of training, who that night, were standing on the stage, “hand in hand” with stars like Zainal Abidin, Jacklyn Victor, Juwita Suwito, Hands Percussion and the Aseana Percussion Unit. 

My  heart was full of pride of these two young men and many others, who have been raised to more than they can be.

 In my mind I can still recall a parent telling me in despair, years ago, “Annam, I can’t go on like this.  I am seriously thinking of giving my child poison to end our misery…”

 Nearly 17 years ago, there were very few services for young persons who were intellectually impaired.  St. Paul’s Church Petaling Jaya committed to start a Day Training Centre for them.  Today, 70 young (and older) intellectually impaired persons have completed their 2 year programme at the DTC

The DTC ministry has expanded to include an Early Intervention Centre, classes for the  severely impaired, a Social Club, Employment Support, Workshop and Training Café.

 Early in the ministry, it was (and still is) very challenging and tough going.  Everything was new.  We were the first church in the Klang Valley (and probably Malaysia) with this ministry.  We learned to do things by prayer, trial and error.

  “Teacher Annam, when my father goes to heaven, will you look after me?”  asked the 18-year old whose father lay dying of cancer in the hospital.  His father had been recently baptized.  His mother was not ready and she did not allow their son to be baptized just yet.  .

I went to the hospital to reassure the parents that I would support  the trainee’s mother when she needed to make decisions about their son. As a tear rolled down his cheek, the father squeezed my hand and mouthed the words “Thank you.”   Within 48 hours, the father went to join the Lord. 

The grieving process included helping the mother to reach out to her son.  At Christmas that year, I was invited to the baptism of the mother and son.  It was a joy to hear the mother say, “I felt the love and care of Christians when my husband died.  This made me turn to Christ.”

 When  told that his mother had died, another  graduate hit his head against the wall of his room repeatedly.   He had just been retrenched and his aunt called me for help.  In desperation, I appealed to my sister to give him a job to help take his mind off his grief.  She did give him a job and Eddy Toh has been happily working in her company for 8 years now.  The wonderful support of the staff and clients in the office transformed this young man’s life.  Early last year, he lost his father and his new “family” – his co-workers, surrounded him with love.  In May this year, he was baptized.  Like many others, Eddy travels to work independently by bus and LRT, has lots of leisure and social activities and manages his meals on his own. He lives on his own with his sister.  This young man is living a life that I and his family would never have envisaged years ago.  His life is transformed.

 There are times of anger and deep sorrow, especially when a slow learner who was also physically disabled was tied up with telephone wire by thieves.  Then they fondled her body.  She had just heard about God’s love and was so amazed at “how kind Jesus is to die for us”.  “Why did the thief touch me?  Is God angry with me?”  she asked after this incident.

Gently I explained that God was not angry with her, but that God was very sad that there were people who did not know Him and did such bad things.  I had to tell again of God’s great love for all people – not just for those who love Him.  I had to teach her to forgive.  It was a joy when this young lady too was baptized.

 As I look back, I find that Christian ministry of care and concern is not about charity  but about dignity and restoring people to their rightful place

Working with the disabled has given me a deeper  understanding of what it means to be made in God’s image and how mankind has damaged this image.  I learned about restoring the image of God in special people.  And as I did these things, my trainees taught me so much too.  As the prophet Samuel learned when he went to anoint David as King, these special people do not judge a person by the outward appearance, social status or string of degrees.  Academic excellence is useless to them.  They look to our hearts and know who really cares, and they return the love in greater measure. Like them, I am learning to get the right perspective when I deal with people.

It is a also joy to be able to help them get a right attitude to life and see the change it effects.  One graduate, Chang Kok Woei wrote:

I would like to be a normal person but people don’t accept me.  I don’t know whether I’m happy or sad.  Some people always bluff me, but I don’t care.  I know I can walk and speak so I don’t bother God very love me, because He help me a lot. 

Today, Kok Woei is happily working in Malaysia Milk and living independently in a rented room.

Through  the years, I have seen how, so many special people, who once faced a bleak future, now have a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29 :30),  Many  of them have jobs or are in sheltered workshops.  But best of all, so many of them and their families have discovered the love of Jesus.  Their  lives have truly been transformed in Christ through  this ministry of care and concern

 When I started working at St. Paul’s DTC, I prayed that my work would be of eternal value.  Praise God that it is so.

 

 A. Annamaney

Coordinator,

St. Paul’s Day Training Centre for Intellectually Challenged Persons

2009

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