‘We want to be their family while they’re in Singapore’: Migrant Worker Ministry
Tan Wei En // September 22, 2017, 11:24 am
The Migrant Worker Ministry in Hope Church Singapore was started in 2014, by a few church members who felt the need to advance the Gospel to migrant workers from China who are based in Singapore.
I was one of those we started the cell group for those involved in the ministry, and later on took over the co-leadership of the ministry. Since then, we’ve witnessed how the lives of these migrant workers were changed when they came to know God.
Initially, I thought it would be very difficult for them to understand what we were sharing with them. Apart from the language barrier, I thought that their cultural background might hinder them.
But God is amazing. While not all migrant workers have many years of education, it has never been a barrier – God’s love can be experienced by anyone who sincerely seeks Him. Proverbs 8:17 tells us: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”
At the beginning, it was quite encouraging to see many migrant workers joining us. They all came with eager hearts to receive and find out more about Christ.
But soon, it became challenging when many of them stopped coming due to their work schedules. We also found it quite difficult to find time and disciple them individually as well.
So each time we plan for our services or cell groups, we never really know how many people will turn up. Our services’ attendance can vary quite drastically – we can never predict the attendance of our events. We only know when the event starts!
During these times of uncertainty, there were many moments when I was losing hope that people would come.
But we do it all by faith. We continue to persevere in meeting them, and encouraging them to come for cell group. We really want them to experience the grace and love from God.
Our vision is to see these new believers start their own cell groups in China. We hope that when they return home, they’ll bring the Gospel with them and start their own cell groups and churches there.
I’ve come to see that God is always faithful. We are merely His vessels, and He will see His work come to completion in His own timing.
And God has been faithful in leading His people to Him in every service we have conducted so far. Sure, we don’t have hundreds of people in each service. But there still really is no greater joy than witnessing the transformation of lives in Him.
Our vision is to see these new believers start their own cell groups in China. The idea is to be their family, and disciple them well when they are in Singapore. We hope that when they return home, they’ll bring the Gospel with them and start their own cell groups and churches there.
We’ve learnt a lot from our mistakes along the way. We’ve gone through many changes, like how our programmes are run, and where they’re located.
We started at a place in Chinatown, then shifted to Lavender. Now, we are based in Geylang. The previous locations were comfortable places, with good facilities. However, because they weren’t near supermarkets, or the migrant workers’ living quarters, many would hesitate to come.
We really saw how we needed to meet their felt needs before sharing the gospel effectively. We’ve evolved to better cater to their needs and find more ways to engage them.
It’s difficult to have faith in the midst of messiness. The team experienced an especially tough time when we became really busy with our own work and personal life. The number of volunteers were dwindling, and the ministry seemed to be dying out. We were exhausted.
So we decided to start this ministry-specific cell group. The leadership team bonded when we witnessed how God was with us through the ups and downs. We held on to our Maker and continuously reminded each other that God must always remain at the centre of what we do, no matter what happens.
Thankfully, God kept us together.
If anyone out there is thinking of starting a similar ministry, my advice for you would be: Don’t do it for anyone, or even for yourself. Do it for God. He is the only constant in life, one that will never fade away.
Because of this perspective, I now have a better understanding of what it means to serve from a position of “rest”. It sounds like a contradiction, but the amazing thing about God is that our service to Him will never be more important than our relationship with Him. We want to be Mary – not Martha.
So, when we serve from a position of rest and as a recipient of His Grace, we are able to witness the power of God working through and in us. And all glory belongs to Him.