The Handiwork of God
Written by Ng Zhi-Wen
The story goes much further back, but let’s begin with a young man who walked the streets of Tokyo a few years ago. He saw the plight of the homeless there and was moved with compassion. He returned to Singapore determined to start the Homeless Hearts of Singapore, a ministry that seeks, befriends and basically ‘be the Church’ to rough sleepers.
He shared his heartbeat for this ministry last July at Micah Conversation 2019 (https://www.micahsingapore.org/micahconversation2019). A pastor heard his testimony and he thought: “My church has a basement carpark that is unused throughout the week. Why can’t that be an overnight shelter for the homeless?” Months later, the first “Safe-Sound-Sleeping Place” (S3P) in an evangelical church was up and running.
Then COVID-19 struck. As the nation hunkered down for the Circuit Breaker, Homeless Hearts and the church mentioned above straightaway got thinking: What about the homeless? Where can they go to be safe? What does household mean to them? They worked with the government and issued a clarion call to Churches to respond to this need. Over a dozen responded.
We were one of them. The conditions seemed right for us: Literally nothing was happening in church during the week, except the Living Room café (but it can provide food for the rough sleepers!). We had classrooms and a first-aid room – that settled safe-distancing and quarantining (if necessary). With the widespread ministry shut-down, our resources were freed up to respond – volunteers readily came forward to assist. The Missions Relief Fund was established and financed the S3P. our Elders were supportive and approved.
As our guest stayers started streaming in, people swung into action. Our admin staff set up the premises and served our guests faithfully. Members offered safari beds and other essentials. In the first month, a member dropped by every night to check on our guests. Soon, we assigned members to befriend our guests one-on-one. One guest had osteoarthritis in both his knees – two physiotherapists (Zion Bishan is blessed with many) worked with him to restore his mobility.
Meanwhile, more and more churches were stepping forward to open up their premises as an S3P. They formed a community of practice to share information (e.g. job openings), best practices, and to encourage each other (including us) to press on in the challenging work.
Zion Bishan’s participation for now has come to a close. I look back and wonder at the orchestration of it all… how God worked through various people in various times, to stir the church and to grant us (us!) the blessing of ministering to these precious ones; even to witness the coming to faith of one brother (he was baptised last Tuesday morning).
We have gained more than we have given. All this is the handiwork of God, and it’s marvellous in our eyes.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory… Psalm 115:1
 There were other Christian groups involved in ministry to the homeless much earlier, e.g. New Hope, PLMC and YWAM’s Trolley Ministry.