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A ministry of reconciliation

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Eugene Toh, 43, is the Chairperson of the Board of Governance of Methodist Welfare Services (MWS), the social concerns arm of The Methodist Church in Singapore. A long-time Methodist, he grew up and was baptised in Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church. Eugene shares his thoughts about MWS and his perspective on its work in outreach and social concerns.

What inspired you to get involved in Christian outreach and social concerns, and with MWS?

When I was young, my father often told me that in future, if I am in a position or ability to give back to others, I must do so. I could not understand why he kept drumming that message in me because we were not from a very wealthy family. But somehow, by chance and providence, he was the only one among his siblings to make it to university because there were a few individuals who supported him. That enabled him to make a breakthrough. It was a story I held close to my heart.

In 2010, when The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) celebrated its 125th anniversary, MWS collaborated with the churches to raise $1.25 million for needy families across Singapore. This initiative blessed each family with $125 every month for a year.

I signed up for this programme through my church then and was assigned to a family living in a rental flat in Ghim Moh. The uncle, who was in his sixties, was wheelchair-bound as he was diabetic and had both his legs amputated. Living with his wife and daughter in a 2-bedroom flat and with his only son in prison, the family clearly had financial difficulties. When I gave him his first cheque, he was perplexed and asked if there were any strings attached, for example, if he needed to go to church. I said, no, it was unconditional.

Over time, he became more familiar with us, perhaps too familiar. There were times he shouted at me if he thought that his cheque was late and told me not to visit again. But he would apologise the next time I saw him, and our relationship was restored.

Later he was open to hear the gospel and I managed to share the Good News with him. Eventually, he received Jesus as his Lord and Saviour, and was baptised shortly before he died. The church is still ministering to his widow and family today.

That was how I started volunteering with MWS. Over time, I joined the Board and in September 2023, took on the role of Chairperson. MWS has given me the opportunity to bless others like how I had been blessed.

As its Chairperson, what is your perspective on MWS’ role in the area of social concerns and outreach, especially in relation to the Methodist community?

In 2 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul talks to us about being “ambassadors of Christ”, and that we are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. MWS’ work is a ministry of reconciliation in three ways.

First, we want to lead our beneficiaries to a wholesome state. By that, I mean we do not just want to meet their physical needs, but also bring restoration and reconciliation to the whole person. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” We want our beneficiaries to lead empowered lives, fulfilling their potential and making a difference to their families, communities and to Singapore.

Second, we want to see relationships restored. We have witnessed this in many of our services because of the interventions and love shown by our chaplains, staff and volunteers. So, the Chaplaincy work is very important. We are growing the MWS Chaplaincy team and expanding the volunteer programme and engagement with the churches, and we hope that more Methodists can come on board.

Finally, we want to see people reconciled to God. For those beneficiaries who are open and want to listen, this is an opportunity for us to share the Good News as well. There have been many testimonies such as the Ghim Moh uncle’s that I described earlier, where people came to know the Lord and found peace.

In sum, I hope that MWS will continue to be a place to do good, because it is simply good to do so. We bless unconditionally because God’s love is unconditional. We were set up as the social concerns arm of MCS and we will continue to provide avenues for our Methodist community to be a blessing to our society.

What lies ahead for MWS?

The charity space is going through many changes. Rising costs in healthcare and demographic changes in society will present new challenges for us. The way we operate will have to evolve. What has not changed however, is the need for more co-workers on this mission field, to meet the needs of vulnerable groups in Singapore.

Next year will be MCS’ 140th anniversary. We are considering what MWS can do to support MCS in this celebration.  Should we raise $1.4 million to bless families in need, like what we did during MCS’ 125th anniversary? If we do, who else can we bless, apart from the beneficiaries that we are already serving? For example, MWS, together with ACS (Anglo-Chinese School), will be setting up a SPED (special education) school in 2026. Will we be open to giving scholarships to eligible graduates so that they may further their education and enhance their prospects at landing meaningful work, perhaps even contributing back to the social services sector?

Can we go even further, like raising 1.4 million volunteer hours from our Methodist community? Within our churches, we have people with different talents, skills and expertise. We welcome people to volunteer in any capacity, and not necessarily only in MWS’ services and centres. Can we bless other organisations, such as the smaller charities, so that they too can be a blessing to those in need?

We will be sharing more plans in the months ahead so keep a lookout, and we hope that the Methodist community and many more will come alongside this purposeful mission.

One thing is certain: every time the Methodist community comes together to commemorate a milestone, we do not only celebrate among ourselves; we always remember and bless those who are in need. That is the heartbeat of Jesus Christ, for he said that when we do it to the least of these brothers and sisters, we have done it to him.

On behalf of the MWS Board and staff, I commit MWS to continue to be part of the Methodist movement to be ambassadors for Christ, to partner each willing Methodist in Singapore to bring the Good News and good works to those around us.

I recall this elderly resident at MWS Nursing Home – Yew Tee, who was estranged from his wife, and expressed a desire to return to his home country. The couple had started a travelling business when they were younger, but it had failed. She wanted to settle down, while he refused. Taking their son, she left him to build a new life. She eventually cut ties with her husband but continued to pray for him daily.

The MWS care team—made up of the chaplain, Centre head and medical social worker—were concerned about the couple not having closure and contacted his wife to explore reconciliation. Despite her initial reluctance, she agreed to meet, sharing her traumatic experiences during their difficult marriage. At the meeting, she read a letter detailing her years of anguish. At the end, she said, “I forgive you, and I pray that God forgives you too.” The resident broke down, expressing love for her and their son.

The couple’s reconciliation brought closure, and the resident spent his remaining days in a nursing home in his home country. After his passing, the wife expressed gratitude to MWS for facilitating their meeting, which brought her peace and comfort.

– Eugene Toh
Chairperson of MWS Board of Governance

Pray for MWS!

While we do not fully understand the wonderful mystery of prayer, we are clear that our Lord encourages us to pray! So we invite you to spend a few minutes each month to join us in prayer. Indeed, as our Lord Jesus said, I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).

HOW TO JOIN “PRAY FOR MWS

  1. Scan this QR code to join the WhatsApp Channel: “Pray for MWS”
  2. After viewing Channel, click “Follow” on the top right. You may find the Channel under the “Updates”
  3. Remember to unmute to receive the monthly notifications on the Channel!
  4. Most importantly, share them with family and friends who wish to pray for MWS!

Visit mws.sg to find out how you can get involved in the meaningful work of MWS.

To provide direct feedback or suggestions to Eugene on how MWS can better support the Methodist community, connect with him at eugenetoh@mws.sg.

By MWS Communications Team. / Photo courtesy of MWS

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