A Family Feel
Written by Ps Zheng Haoren
“And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:49-50
BK, in his late thirties, walked towards me. Our eyes met and there was a special warmth. We exchanged greetings and fist-bumped. He has lost weight. I decided not to ask why. He sat down at his usual corner. Twelve others came into the room. There was friendly chatter. Safe-distancing had to be observed.
It was Bible Study class at Changi Prisons for this group. I hadn’t seen BK for a month. He was assigned elsewhere for duties but had requested to be at this session. For he would be released the following day – two days before Chinese New Year. He wanted to chat.
BK, an engineer, has a job waiting for him. It surprised even the prison authorities, given the current economic situation. The other inmates were happy for BK. Each wished him well. And he surprised me when he abruptly said, “I would like to visit your Church…”
This session was somewhat different. There was a joyful spirit in the room. Though Chinese New Year was around the corner, I am aware that inmates do not appreciate long festive weekends. They would be confined to their cells given a smaller number of prison staff on duty. Moreover, Chapel and all programmes would be cancelled. So what could be the reason for a joyful spirit? I believe it’s the hope of Christ in their hearts, the presence of the Spirit, and the gladness of being with one another – a sense of family.
We worshipped the Lord and studied the Bible passage together. There were questions and answers. One inmate exclaimed, “Now I see… God humbled Pharaoh… it’s the same for us… we may be business owners, professionals, or the Ah Seng, Ah Beng in society… but before God, we’re all sinners…” And other questions and requests for personal prayer came after the study.
I sat down to pray with BK towards the end of the session. Two others came over. One was an elderly man who conversed mainly in Mandarin and Hokkien. The other was an ex-teacher, who interpreted for the elderly man. We huddled and prayed together, and forgot about safe-distancing. There was a family feel! Beloved, it is our desire to cultivate a deeper family feel at our respective Service Congregations. It will take effort, time, and a spiritual earnestness. Let’s keep praying. May God bless our efforts and remember the inmates too!