By Ps Lee Kok Wah
Invite a friend and say: “Let’s Go for Kopi”. So, what has coffee got to do with compassion?
It has been said that “compassion is your pain in my heart.” Compassion is a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. Compassion involves the sharing of feelings of others as a means of coming to an appreciation and understanding of how they feel. It is a form of emotional engagement that makes the difference between transactional, professional care and relational, pastoral care. For the Christian, the source and model of the latter is our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is a compassionate God. He revealed this through Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:35-37; 14:13-21; 15:29-39; 20:29-34; Mark 1:40-45; 6:30-44; 8:1-13; Luke 7:11-17; 9:10-17; John 6:1-13; Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus is the embodiment of divine compassion for the suffering world.
Our God has chosen to be “God-with-us” (Philippians 2:6-11). We will only know, in our minds and with our hearts, that God is a compassionate God when we grasp the significance of the phrase “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
Presence or being with one in need is the primary expression of compassion. When someone says to us in the midst of a crisis, “I do not know what to say or what to do, but I want you to realize that I am with you, that I will not leave you alone,” we have a friend through whom we can find consolation and comfort.
Followers of Jesus Christ are called to live a compassionate life together, in community. This is foundational to being disciples in a disciple-making community of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what we mean when we say, “Following Jesus to care.”
Jesus’ compassionate way is to care with emotional engagement. He not only reached out with practical help, encouragement and support when He saw people in need, but He also wept for the last, the least and the lost.
Before we can care like Jesus had cared, we need to reach out and connect with others. One good way to do so is over a meal. Invite someone and say: “Let’s Go for Kopi.”
To encourage participation in our “care campaign” to connect with others who are not in our usual “circle of care”, our church is providing $5 vouchers for use at Fun Toast, West Coast Plaza #02-26. We hope each worshipper will connect with two or three others this year, with the aim of building friendship over the next 12 months and beyond. If you are willing to help grow our faith community’s informal network of care, please collect a voucher at the fellowship hall as you leave CBC.
We can all learn to care better. Two workshops will be organized this year. The first will be held on 2 April, Saturday. Connecting Deeper is designed to help participants to navigate difficult issues and emotional challenges. We will learn how to come alongside someone and initiate helping, healing conversations through listening and validation skills. A second workshop to enhance other care skills will be conducted on 7 September. Do look out for more details.
Thirdly, we can tell others about how we have provided and received care. Two mid-week Zoom sessions have been planned for 11 May and 9 November respectively. We hope that many will join these sessions to share and encourage one another to grow in our capacity for compassion.
As mentioned earlier, presence is the primary expression of compassion. That is why we visit the sick even if we are not health care workers and cannot contribute medically to their healing. Showing compassion through presence is the reason we visit the bereaved at wakes and accompany them at funerals, even though we cannot raise the dead. The visitation ministry is a ministry of compassion. This ministry took a hit in the last two years, mainly due to Covid-19 safe management measures. This year, God-willing, we will step up our one-to-one and small group connection and visitation with the help of CARE Groups, the Men’s, Ladies’ and Seniors’ Ministries. The latter has in mind a “Seniors visit Seniors” initiative, led by the Seniors Ministry Leadership Team.
Would you like to follow Jesus to care? Feel free to contact any member of the Pastoral Care Leadership Team comprising Kok Wah (firstname.lastname@example.org), Angela (email@example.com), Janet (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Beng Hwee (email@example.com). We would love to journey with you as you follow Jesus to care.