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  • Yong Teck Meng, National Director

A room full of strangers

I am writing right before Good Friday and Easter, and I was a bit curious as to how my other Habitat affiliates mark these festivals. So I simply typed in the words "Easter Habitat" on my google image search, and was pleasantly surprised to find the following, among many other images:

The first is from Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan, second from Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County and the third from Habitat for Humanity Argentina, in Spanish (I assume)...

These tell me that there are many Habitat organisations out there commemorating Good Friday and Easter in their own ways. It's always very inspiring and encouraging for me to know that Habitat Singapore is part of a truly global movement to fight poverty by targeting poverty-housing and its related issues. In fact, I just returned from our global conference held at Atlanta, where more than 2,500 people came from more than 70 Habitat countries to swap war-stories and strategies. While there were many familiar faces from Asia-Pacific, the vast majority of the people were strangers to me. But we were all brought together by the common goal of wanting to demonstrate the love and teachings of Jesus Christ through our work.

And Good Friday and Easter mark the most fundamental reason why we do what we do. We are people inspired, and transformed by the love and grace we received from Jesus Christ, and so would want to follow His example and teachings to serve people made in God's image and likeness, regardless of their race, language or religion.

People always ask me about the link between our Christian faith and what we do. The illustration I have always given is this: It is like I am walking into a room full of strangers. I then ask aloud if there is any volunteer who would join me in helping someone who is in need to build his house, clean up or improve his housing condition, or the many other things Habitat does. And I would gather all the people who raised their hands, no matter if they are Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, gay, ex-convict, whatever... and we will all go and focus on our commonality of wanting to do good. We do not proselytize because we are following the example of the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. This is the part of Habitat that appeals to me greatly, the opportunity to work alongside people from all backgrounds, and to learn from each other.

However, if you were to ask me why I walked into that room in the first place, the answer would be that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I am doing what He has commanded me to do, to shine my light to a world in darkness. As the Bible tells us ever so clearly, we love because He first loved us. And Good Friday and Easter demonstrates that love fully.

May God continue to bless all of you for journeying alongside us. And may you feel and receive the love and grace of Jesus Christ in this most wonderful time of remembrance.


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