Life in a Care Group
Cecilia Kang describes the life and growth of her care group (CG) and the ways that her CG shows love and support to one another.
Friday nights’ traffic is infamous. Cabs are all booked out. Roads are jammed up with occasional horns blaring away. Everyone has somewhere to be, and the mood is buoyant and busy. Amidst this bustle, a few people are focused on making their way to an apartment in River Valley on time. They are coming from various parts of Singapore, directly from their offices or homes; tired and hungry but also expectant.
Upon arriving, the door is already unlocked and opened wide. Shoes are slowly accumulating in front of the door, kicked off hastily to join in the group. Someone gets up to offer a cold drink to the one who just entered; two others are already busy recounting their week at work. Advice is being offered to another who has a nagging pain in her back. A new book is being passed around the group. Others make way to the kitchen to grab a bite and to help bring food out. Within half an hour, everyone starts settling down to a comfortable corner or chair. A prayer is said for everyone to recalibrate their hearts and minds to the agenda of the evening—learning and hearing the Word of God. As the study progresses, individuals get warmed up and chip in an answer or two. If the topic is a tough one, an older member offers a lengthier and in depth explanation. Sometimes, a verse or topic strikes a chord and everyone wants a word in to share their experiences or voice their doubts or concerns.
Towards the end of the study, everyone exchanges word on things to be thankful for and things weighing on their minds. Sachie Hori has had an eventful week, as she recounts an issue at work, the ladies listen and offer words of encouragement and advice. “Being in my CG, I know that I have close Christian sisters praying for me because they care about me and continually point me to Christ.”
With heads bowed, each takes a turn to pray for others present and absent; comfort and strength is felt through these collective prayers. Lir Huijing hands out the prayer request sheets to everyone as she has been in touch with everyone in the group during the week, catching up on their prayer requests and thanksgiving items. “Accountability is something I have gained from being in a CG. It is a structured way to participate in the church community and also a platform to exercise love.” Huijing feels that through these prayers, members feel a little closer to each other as they understand a little more of each person’s joys and worries.
Amongst the group, those who are more acquainted also keep in touch during the week through meals, messages or phone calls, especially during trying times of personal crisis. The men in the CG would also meet up for meals once in a while to catch up and to keep each other updated of their lives, giving them opportunities to pray for each other. Joey Raju acknowledges that the CG is his first place to turn to in times of need. “There is trust here, it’s safe, built over several years of opening up, sharing the trials and failures of my Christian faith. Advice is given lovingly whether they are words that are hard yet need to be heard or encouragement to keep on to finish the race well. Proverbs 27:17 says ‘Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another’, this captures what my brothers in the CG have been for me.” Tan Cher Ming agrees, “Through the CG, my faith is made more real. There are opportunities to show love through action and serving each other. My family has received so much support and love in very practical ways, like babysitting, cooked meals and regular sharing of food, and even advice on helpers.”
For myself, I have gained godly advice and practical help from the CG in big and small trials and challenges. When my daughter was hospitalised with Kawasaki disease, endless messages were exchanged through long nights in the hospital and little offers of food and toys kept me going.
As the prayers conclude, the atmosphere becomes lively again as food is served and shared. Everyone mingles around the room, catching a word here or there, keeping updated on each other’s lives. Those who are content to sit back and relax after a long week will listen to the group chatter over a cup of chamomile tea. The night dwindles to a close as one by one, people leave until the last few say their goodbyes.
While this routine has become an integral part of the CG’s life for a good many years, the pattern has been largely transformed with COVID’s occurrence. But by and large, the support garnered by the CG has been consistent. Sachie explains, “Now, I do devotions and prayers with my close CG friends through WhatsApp or Zoom. We keep in touch during the week by messaging each other often and also do Bible study plans on the Bible app. If I see a good article on saltandlight.sg or a good devotion for the day, we also share it with each other.” Recently, Sachie’s son went for a MRI scan, she kept in close touch with her CG friends to update them and to gain spiritual and moral support. “When my daughter was born, we were also worried about a health issue; having the presence and support of the CG helped immensely,” Huijing adds.
Being a part of a CG has been a 180-degree change for Joey Raju:
"'It has made all the difference', to take a phrase from Robert Frost! I grew up in the church, thought I was saved, and disregarded Bible studies for most of my life. I considered them as something extra, and consistent church attendance is more than enough. Regularly meeting with a group to pour over the Word and nurture deeper fellowship is essential for the believer. This is supported by Scripture—Hebrews 10:25 comes to mind.
It is within the CG that I became saved, as if my eyes were opened: the scriptures revealed God’s character, and it’s indescribably beautiful and so desirable. The scriptures revealed who Jesus is, God incarnate, the second person of the Trinity. God who took on flesh and died for me so I may truly live. It’s very emotionally overwhelming today as I meditate upon this mercy. And it all started because a small group welcomed me in! The brothers and sisters of my CG are closer to me than my own siblings. The blood of Christ is binding, the blood of my last name is not."
If you would like to join a CG but do not know where to start, email Elder Caleb Yap at email@example.com for more information.