Sunday, 9 December 2018

A dedication to Kenneth & Adeline - The Last Resort.

They don't have much.

They live from hand to mouth. Their savings are fast depleting. Yet, they trust God to provide, from one day to the another. Now, that's the example of living by faith in our modern world.

Kenneth, 46, and Adeline, 39, provide shelter for teenagers and young adults. "Most come from abusive and dysfunctional families, and have nowhere to go. Many, ranging in age from 18 to their mid-20s, are too old for institutional care or fostering."

Adeline said: "We want young people to know if there is really nowhere else to go, there is a place for you. But we will first sit them down to see if there are other options."

Janice Tai, the Social Affair correspondent who reported the story, wrote that: "There are five bedrooms, and stayers usually get their own room or share it with one other person. There are no rules, and they are free to help themselves to anything, and can stay as long as they have to."

Todate, they have housed more than 35 young people over 10 years, with some staying for one day and others to three years. 

The four-storey terrace house they are living in is a rented apartment. The rent is $5000 per month and Kenneth and Adeline depend on the community for gifts and practical assistances. 

Neighbours cook meals for them. Some bring food and snacks. Meat suppliers send meat regularly. Others came to donate old furniture.

Kenneth said: "We live month by month on goodwill donations from friends and we believe God will meet our needs if this work is to continue."

Before they moved into the terrace house, they rented a three-room flat as a makeshift refuge for the lost and in need. After that, they rented a four-room and then a five-room in Sengkang to house more people. 

Currently, there are three young people living there. "One moved in just yesterday (Saturday), needing a place to stay as his mother suffers from drug and alcohol addiction. A few years ago, he ran away from Boys' Town, which felt like a "prison", and stayed with friends or slept in the streets.""

The other two occupants are a 25-year-old single mother with a 10-week-old baby and a 19-year-old girl who has been in and out of IMH.
Money is always tight for the good Samaritan couple as their monthly expenses came up to $7000 per month, and they have left their jobs to do this full time. 

But they are determined to press on as they, as Christians, "felt the call to go ahead."

Lesson? Just one.

I share this story because it is real. It is the counterculture that Jesus is talking about. It runs counter to the calling of the world where the preoccupation is somewhere else - in the limelight, in the billboards, in the big screens, in the grand pulpit, in the exclusive corporate office perched at the top, in the lavished mansions, and in the frantic uptick of the stock market. 

If there is one thing that describes well Kenneth and Adeline's commitment to the call, it is captured in the Sermon on the Mount. 

Essentially, it is about being the salt and light of the world, about works of mercy and compassion, about tireless and selfless giving, about living the Kingdom of God in this world by example, about blessings beyond the material for living a righteous life, and about servant leadership, a heart of vulnerability and humility, and a love for making small differences that inspire the whole society. 

Of course, not everyone is given this call, and not everyone is right for it. 

For when the sower plants the seed on good and deep soil, some will bloom thirty fold and others sixty fold. They will transform society with their own diverse gifts/works in different ways. We all touch lives in our own way in our own time. 

But I believe the heart is the same. It is a heart that seeks after His righteousness, His Kingdom on earth. As Jesus puts it, this heart gives to the poor, helps the widows, and takes care of the orphans. 

That is true religion, and anything apart from that is the excesses of a heart that seeks only to profit self. 

So, the heart of Kenneth and Adeline is indeed the good soil that bears much fruit. 

The lives they have changed will be the enduring testimony of what true religion can achieve when the heart is humbled, submitted and transformed. 

And when Adeline was asked "why she bothered caring for other people's children, including babies," she showed Janice this message from a teenager (Vincent Moh, 20) who used to live with them:-

"Yo, this is random but whenever I think about my past, I am always so grateful to know you and Ken, who led me to the right path."

Alas, at times, we all need to be shown the right path, whether as someone's children, their friends, or even as strangers in this case. 

This empowering nudge may be in the form of an occasional encouragement, a quiet presence in times of pain, a helping hand when needed, a hug to impart confidence and assurance, and in Kenneth and Adeline's case, a life shared with another under one roof for as long as it takes. Amen. Cheerz.

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