Gracehaven Outreach - 8 Apr 2017
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
Bright and early on a Saturday morning, ten GBC members gathered at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to prepare an outdoor mini amazing race with 17 children from Gracehaven, a “residential home for children and youths who require care, protection and rehabilitation due to risk behaviours and a lack of parental supervision.” The programme was organised and led by the Saturday Afternoon West (SAW) care group.
As we closed in prayer at the end of the preparation, the sky teased us with some light rain and we continued praying silently for the rain to cease completely. The Gracehaven children and youths soon came, energetic and lively. It took a while to sort them into groups, and then we were off with a map and a passable sense of direction.
The girls’ group veered off the paved slope onto the muddy steps, in search of the South View Hut. After approaching a few hikers for help, they finally found themselves on the right path and barely made it into the shelter before the dark clouds above unloaded their burden of rain. On the other side, the boys’ groups conquered the steep slope, but unfortunately did not make it to the shelter before the rain came pouring down – on the bright side, they seemed to enjoy playing in the rain!
Huddled in the shelters, we had ample opportunities to chat with the children and youths about their lives and their faiths. The groups were also given a simple game of unscrambling and memorising the key Bible verse of the day: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20) Eventually, the rain was light enough for us to head back to base camp, though we had to forgo the rest of the amazing race.
Back at the base camp, we settled down for the message. Using beautiful hand-drawn illustrations, Julian shared with us the story of Joseph: As a young child, Joseph was mistreated by those close to him, and then sent away to a foreign place far away from home; as a young man in Egypt, he was bullied by those in power, and had his freedom taken away; as a prisoner, he was forgotten by those whom he had helped before; yet, as the second-in-command restored to glory, Joseph chose to forgive and love those who had once betrayed him. Julian ended the sharing with his personal testimony, highlighting how our rebellion might bring about serious repercussions, but God would always use it to fulfil His perfect plan at the end.
For the Gracehaven children and youths, perhaps the story of Joseph and the testimony of Julian struck a chord with them, as many of them probably have experienced unstable family situations or difficult relationships with their family members. When asked what they would have done in Joseph’s shoes, we were heartened that a few of them said that they would “forgive others as they have been forgiven.” Indeed, we pray that they understand that regardless of adverse situations or hostile persons in their individual lives, our sovereign God intends it for good to accomplish His will in their lives and the larger world they live in.
As our time with the Gracehaven children and youths drew to a close, one of the youths came up to us and shyly told us that he would be going home in two weeks – we were so happy for him! Gracehaven ministry is a strange ministry where we hope we would not see the children and youths at the next outing (at least not as Gracehaven residents), because this meant that their family situations were stable enough and their family relations restored sufficiently, for them to reintegrate back into their families. Nonetheless, for those whom we continued to see over time, we are thankful to witness their growth, especially the spiritual maturing of those who have placed their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, the Gracehaven team covets your prayers:
(1) for ourselves to have courage, wisdom and opportunities to share the gospel with the children and youths who have yet to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour, and encourage those who have come to faith;
(2) for the Gracehaven children and youths to have open hearts to receive Jesus, and trust that God intends all their life situations for good; and
(3) for more GBC members to participate the Gracehaven outreach and share the love of God with these young children and youths.
The next Gracehaven outreach would be on 20 May 2017, contact Sandy Tung at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more.