|Date||1 October, 2005|
Interserve Malaysia chairman Philip Chang reports on the work of Hischild, a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) in South-East Asia, where fellow Partners Johnny and Lucille Lee are helping to bring hope into the lives of many children and youth.
Meet Tam-Tam Tam-Tam is almost six years old. She was born in a town known for its casinos and other vices. Her mother is of an ethnic minority and had fled from her home country. After a run-in with government authorities, she was relocated and now tries to work for survival. Until recently, she did not know the whereabouts of Tam-Tam's father and did not even want to keep her daughter. Furthermore, the nature of her work and her living environment was not conducive to bringing up a young girl. Over a year ago, an agency found Tam-Tam and brought her to Hischild. When she arrived at the organisation's halfway house, she had scabies all over her body. She was uncommunicative and withdrawn. But within two months of staying at Hischild, Tam-Tam's scabies cleared up, and she began talking and smiling and now participates fully in the daily activities with the other children; she likes to talk to herself, role-play and playfully supervise other children. She will be attending a local school next term.
It is not yet certain whether Tam- Tam's mother will sign a release form for the authorities to give Hischild custody of Tam-Tam where she will continue being cared for. But many children in this country are even less fortunate. Some may end up being sold into vice or living on the streets, begging or searching for food in rubbish dumps.
Meet Sokha When she was young, Sokha became a resident in the orphanage home run by Hischild. In the 12 years she has lived there, she has managed to complete her schooling and her university studies, obtaining a degree in English. Since then she has received several relatively lucrative job offers because of her good command of English, but she has turned them all down. Instead she has chosen to work at Hischild (accepting a much lower salary than her other offers) where she teaches English, translates, and helps to manage the local staff and children of the homes.
On some days, Sokha joins Johnny and Lucille and other staff workers for the street children ministry. By 4:00am, they are out of their beds, ready to start work. They drive their bus to a different area in the capital city each morning and park near the streets and alleys where children are sleeping. When the children wake up, they are invited into the bus to be bathed and to have their wounds cleaned and scabies treated. Reading and writing lessons follow as well as Bible-story teaching, a video cartoon show, and finally a meal. The programme finishes by mid-morning, and twice a week the bus then travels to another location to run a similar programme in the afternoon. Over 500 children receive care in this way each week.
On Sundays, Sokha teaches and leads worship in the church started by the staff. She is also in charge of the youth. It is a great joy to watch the children worship God, singing and praying with all their hearts, thanks to capable national believers like Sokha who has committed herself to serve her own people with her talents.
Meet Theng Theng started working as a driver with Hischild one year ago. He was not a Christian then. He drives all the vehicles to fetch the children, staff and visitors from everywhere and anywhere. Throughout the year he has attended the church meetings on Sundays and has seen lives being transformed by God through the work of Hischild and through the personal witness of the Christian staff. Recently, during an altar call in one of the meetings, Theng took a step of faith and accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour.
Meet the needs The success of Hischild is evident in the emerging national leadership represented by Sokha – herself once a child in its care. Every Sunday about 80 children and 50 adults gather for worship. This is a place where the future leaders of the Church in this country are being raised.
Johnny and Lucille are praying that more Partners will join them in their ministry with Hischild. The needs are great as the number of children in their care has continued to grow. For example, the halfway house, which provides short-term accommodation for up to one year, now has 20 children transitioning from the streets to more secure living arrangements. These children will either be reunited with their families or move into the orphanage. The orphanage is home to 52 children and provides healthcare, safe accommodation, daily nutritious meals, and education in an atmosphere of family love and care over the long term.
Some projects are also in the pipeline: for example, a school for trafficked children and a vocational training centre. They need people who can upgrade programmes and train staff and older youth to manage these areas. They also need a mechanic who can take care of two large buses and other vehicles owned by Hischild. Other personnel needs include: an accountant to help manage the accounts and finances; a medical doctor to improve the health programmes; and a child psychologist to diagnose problems, design treatments and train the key staff to administer treatments. Child specialists, English teachers and Bible teachers are also welcomed.
Any Godly person who loves children and likes to work with them will definitely experience a great sense of joy and fulfillment when they serve with Hischild, whether long or short term. Precious lives will be transformed in the process, giving each child a hope and a future.
If you are interested in ministering to children in South-East Asia, please contact our Personnel Director or visit our website (www.interserve.org) to check out the openings.
Meet Johnny and Lucille
Johnny and Lucille are both 60 years of age and have one grandchild. They retired from their jobs a few years ago and felt the strong calling to serve overseas. But how? After praying and making enquiries, a friend introduced them to Hischild where they served for six months. They returned home with the feeling that it was right to serve there long term.
By chance they heard that Interserve were recruiting personnel for South-East Asia. They applied to become Partners and were sent out by their home church, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kuala Lumpur. As Partners, they have enjoyed becoming part of a larger fellowship and are assured of member care support both at home and in the field.
Presently Johnny and Lucille work together with one other expatriate from Korea, Jung Young, and a team of 20 national Christian staff. They are dubbed the 'A-Team' – 'Anything, Anytime, Anywhere' – because they literally have to handle everything that comes their way. Many times they feel illequipped for the challenges they face. For example, children who have been involved in vice activities often have emotional and mental problems that they cannot properly diagnose.
Johnny is finding his skills and experience as a former businessman very useful. Not only does he provide a fatherly figure for the children, but he also uses his knowledge in finance management and office administration. Complementing him is Lucille who provides motherly love and care for the children, helps in administration and gives guidance to the local staff.
In partnering together with their sending church and Interserve in this ministry, Johnny and Lucille feel a great sense of fulfilment and peace that they have obeyed and answered God's calling at the right time and at the right place, and in the process, God is also meeting their personal needs. This whole experience has indeed transformed their lives.