On the morning of Feb 15, 2021, we woke up to a very cold house in Houston, Texas. We had been warned that a winter storm was coming, the coldest (-12℃) that Texas had seen in a hundred years, but were not prepared for a power outage in the midst of this storm. Without power, we could not run our central heating and the house lost its heat fast. We also quickly found out that the gas fireplace in our house was more ornamental than functional in heating the house.
With spotty cellphone signals, we tried to connect with members of our Small Group in Houston and soon discovered that like the majority of Texas, we were all out of power as many powerplants had shut down due to the hard freeze. Isolated and cold, we hunkered down as a family to pray for power to be restored and for protection from the cold. That same evening, we were so overjoyed when we heard our central heating blowers kick-in. However, we found that we were the minority and many of my colleagues and SG members were still without power. Concerned for our friends, we offered up our house as a shelter from the bitter cold. The next day, an SG member took up the offer and his family of five stayed with us for a week until power was restored to his house.
In the two years I spent in the US, my Small Group in Houston became a community that we could depend on in times of need. Initially when I joined the group, I was attracted by the similarity in culture (most of us were Singaporeans) and food that reminded us of home. Through the help of a caring leader, we bonded together as a community of God’s people and learned to extend help to each other as we faced our individual challenges and natural disasters. The Small Group was a great source of practical help and support as we weathered the many natural disasters (hurricane season, winter storms, COVID) and personal challenges (illnesses, economic hardship) together. Through the ministry of the Word, deeds and the Holy Spirit, we saw a few amongst us heed the call to be baptised and accept the Lord into their lives. The fellowship that I experienced felt like what was described in the early church (Acts 2:42-47)
It was the most enriching Small Group experience I had in all my years of involvement in Small Group ministry. As I reflect on the sense of community that we had, I realize there were a few factors that made us grow closer together.
Each of us recognized that we needed help as we were in a foreign land with many natural disasters and we were unfamiliar with how things worked. We were also willing to ask for help as everyone had their challenges and there was no need to feel embarassed or “paiseh” to ask for help. The Small Group was part of the social safety net. All of us were willing to help in whatever way we could. When one member fell ill with COVID, we took turns delivering meals to the member as their family lived far away. This built upon itself as once we found we could depend on each other, it made us more prepared to face whatever challenges that came our way.
I believe that Small Group Churches in YCKC can also do a lot more. We are all going through difficult times, and we can go through our challenges together as God’s people if we take the initiative to ask for help and extend our help to those who are in need.
by brother Tay Yong Thai