Monday, July 7, 2014

The Strange Church Anniversary

When Samuel invited me and church leaders to come to the front for a photograph to commemorate the 14th Anniversary of the church, I hesitated for a while feeling a bit weird. I just did not want too much attention on us. The church is the whole congregation and each one has a part in building the church to what it is today. Everyone should share in its honor. As Samuel nudged the congregation to sing happy birthday song to CDPC, Julia, a long-standing member of the church, whisked a blue color cake on a four-wheel cart to the stage. It was a like a crescendo, the worship service reached its height, because the congregation was soaking in the atmosphere of praising God for his faithfulness. I was given the knife to cut the cake. I thought to myself: “Are they testing me to see whether I could multiply the cake like Jesus feeding the 5000?” True enough, everyone had a piece to sample and I wonder how it happened that a small cake could feed 200 people.
Suddenly something completely unexpected thing occurred. Samuel again invited the congregation to sing birthday song to Nagarajah. Again a chocolate cake was brought to Nagarajah who was seated at the back row of the church hall. Nagarajah, a homeless poor Indian man, who has been coming to the church for a year now, was completely bowed over by the generous gesture of the church. Never in his wildest dream could he imagine that a middle class church comprising mainly Chinese would welcome him like Jesus welcomed the marginalized of the society. Probably no one has ever celebrated his birthday for him. Nagarajah speaks only a smattering English. Yet he felt so loved by the church people. Almost every Sunday, different members of the church would take him to where he stayed. His home is at the corner of the shopping mall where he could go to the toilet for bathing. There is just enough covering to shelter him from the rain. Nagarajah is a very clean person. He would put Talcum powder before he comes to the church. He would also wear a white T-shirt and a short trouser. He walks with a limp because of an accident several years ago that rendered him jobless. He would sit quietly at the back of the church hall and worships God with us. We usually give him essential items for him to take home. After the service Nagarajah stays back to have a meal before members take him ‘home.’
To me the celebration of the church’s Anniversary reached its climax when the church honored this homeless poor publicly, one of the least in the society who is considered by some to be unworthy to live in our beautiful and affluent city. This young church made me proud.
I firmly believe that the greatness of a nation is not about its military power, technological advances, economic prosperity, or highly educated populace, but rather how its citizens treat the weakest, the voiceless, the poorest, the marginalized and the scum of the society.