Pray yes, but be generous too

Praying is like a rocking chair; it’ll give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere. – Gypsy Rose Lee, American actress

My friend, Steve Sebastian Lau, has recently embarked on a charity drive to help the poor and needy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He resides in Kuching and operates out of his office in MJC, Batu Kawa. He told me he has turun padang for three months now.

Lau started his benevolent work using his own resources initially. Later, other generous souls donated provisions such as rice, cooking oil, instant noodles, Milo, masks etc for him and his team to distribute.

As his acts of charity became known, streams of people would make their way to Lau’s office to obtain food baskets.

Lau is a fellow Josephian (he’s my junior in school) and I’m proud that he has voluntarily taken up the challenge to support the needy during this pandemic.

As I am now ‘stuck’ in Kuching, unable to return to Kuala Lumpur because of the lockdown, I have decided to touch base with Lau and complement his charitable efforts. Such work is not alien to me.

My friends and I in the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) have started on our little charity acts since September last year.

I have lost count of the number of families we had assisted since then but I am proud to say that we have not turned anyone down. MoCS is particularly sympathetic to single mothers with hungry kids.

I am glad to be of some help to Lau this past week by seeing to some of his urgent, needy cases. MoCS does not have much to offer but we give whatever we can.

I must also state here that my NGO does not solicit public donations. What we have come from the generosity of our fellows. However, if others wish to contribute to our welfare fund, who are we to decline?

Last Saturday, I’ve noticed that Lau has posted a message in the “Community Help” page in Facebook, seeking more assistance to fund his charity drive.

I wrote this message under his appeal: “I think we have to act and help Steve. Merely “liking” his post and saying “Good work, Steve” isn’t really helping.

“Please give something. Even RM10 is not small. There is so much joy in giving from the heart — dishing out hard earned $$ from our pockets or from our savings to help the needy.

“I make no apologies for being blunt here — talking is easy, saying “I’ll pray for you” is easy. But I need food. I’m hungry. I need to feed my kids. Adults can go hungry for a day or two; babies cannot.

“Quit the sweet talk; it’s time for real, concrete action. Please contact Steve now. He needs your help and mine to continue his crusade to feed the poor and hungry in our midst. In fact, it is a sin not to do so”, I concluded.

As I have mentioned “praying”, I feel that I must also wade into the recent Facebook posting by PAS leader Nik Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz where he advised followers to raise their hands and pray instead of seeking help from their neighbours and community.

I am very disturbed by Nik Abduh’s action of pouring cold water on the popular “White Flag” initiative which has now proven to be an effective way for the needy to garner attention towards their plight.

He should just have kept quiet if he did not agree with the white flag movement. Now, he deserves to be ticked off by his fellow politicians. Most of them asked the PAS man to use his ‘brain’ before opening his mouth.

Yes, pray by all means. Prayer is a necessary medium to solidify a believer’s relationship with his god. We can pray for solace, comfort and healing. Even if we do not believe in God, we can always sing a song of praise for any being we respect or love.

To my fellow Christians, don’t just say “I’ll pray for this and that petition or for this and that person”. Mere words are often meaningless. Action is an indication of your sincerity and concern.

So, don’t just talk, talk is cheap. Do something.

Let me also address the politicians. It is quite obvious that aspiring candidates, even in Kuching, are starting on the wrong track with their involvement in politics.

It’s noticeable that such candidates are only helping those in the constituency they are eyeing to contest. They will only distribute food baskets to these areas.

Of course, they bring their cameras along with them too. They want and need the publicity.

I don’t think this is the right approach for aspiring candidates to embark on a political career — by learning early to only help those with votes in your area of interest.

It is a selfish, insincere act. When you help others in this manner, you expect something in return.

I see this in Kuching too and I am disappointed, very disappointed with such behaviour of many of our politicians — the elected representatives as well as the aspiring candidates.

So, my message here is this. Let us all act by giving, no matter how little we are able to help. And please do not expect anything in return when you give. Your reward will be abundant in heaven.

And yes, let us pray too. After praying, let us turun padang and assist those who have asked for and needed our help.

May the force be with all of you!

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.