I am currently working in a social service agency supporting ex-offenders. You may have heard about the Yellow Ribbon Project. One of its aims is to unlock the second prison, which is about addressing stigmatisations experienced by ex-offenders. Such stigmas, along with many other challenges faced by ex-offenders, become a barrier that hinder successful reintegration and longer-term change. To facilitate their reintegration into society and change, many require close support from their informal network, be it their family members, friends or members of the public. For an ex-offender to transform their lives, the support of the community is indisputable.
Similarly, as Christians we need a community of like-minded people to journey with us in our pilgrimage on this earth. Other than the many global challenges impacting our daily lives (e.g. pandemic, war, escalating inflation), our Christian values and beliefs are increasingly tested and challenged. For example, I now have to exercise much more due diligence in monitoring the movies and shows that my children watch, because there has been a more concerted effort to influence children on issues not easily understood at their developmental stage. This will be a conversation for another day, but my point is that for us Christians who are committed in our pursuit of our faith, the road ahead is definitely going to be tougher.
Pastor Rick preached on the topic Post-Covid Church on 3 July 2022. In one of the segments, he spoke about the definition of Church, which I have copied here:
“The people of God gathered together for the Great Transformation and the Great Commission.
It is a Faith, Loving, and Shining Community. “
It reminded me that Christians need to gather together to continue to transform and deepen our faith, while being relentless in making disciples and not just winning believers (Matthew 28:19 ESV). To battle the trials and temptations facing us Christians in this era, we need to heed the call to be part of this Faith, Loving, and Shining Community. If we have time, do ponder on Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV – one of my takeaways is that Paul has called us to be united to build the church community in love.
I am glad that my family and I have set our roots here in Yio Chu Kang Chapel to be part of this community. Having been to several churches prior to YCKC, I recognise the need for us to play our part by being actively involved in church activities and with its people. Yet, I struggle. Having to juggle my many responsibilities and commitments leave me with little capacity to connect with others. To be part of a community also means setting aside my expectations and preferences. I see members of our church community more as family rather than friends, because for the former we do not choose, but we just have to accept and learn to get along, because this is part of the process of iron sharpening iron.
Ultimately, the goal is not about us coming together to have a great time. We grow spiritually in the community, we shine as a community, and we weather the persecution that may intensify in the not too far future. And as a community, let us rejoice because Christ is the bedrock.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4 ESV
By brother William Soh