Breaking bread, breaking barriers

Breaking bread, breaking barriers
From left to right: Mdm Ong Quee Huay with MWS befrienders, Wong Pey Wah and Wong Soo Hwee

All her life, Mdm Ong Quee Huay, 81, had never celebrated Mother’s Day … until last year.

Wong Pey Wah, 71, and Wong Soo Hwee, 63, a pair of MWS befrienders, had brought Mdm Ong out for simple Chinese fare at a food court. That broke down barriers between Mdm Ong and the duo, who had been visiting and befriending her for four years then.

“It was our first time bringing Quee Huay out for a good meal. We had become very familiar with her by then, so we knew her medical history, and what kinds of food she had to avoid,” shared Pey Wah, a volunteer befriender at MWS Active Ageing Centre – Kebun Baru.

“Over that meal, she told us how touched and thankful she was as it was the first time someone brought her out to celebrate Mother’s Day. Before, she seemed distant and saw us only as volunteers. But after that day, we became closer. We also found out that we share the same surname (in Chinese), and now we often joke that we are related!”

The concept of table fellowship, where barriers are broken down and bonds are forged over meals, is the basis of The Giving Methodist’s Eat Share Connect campaign this year. Table fellowship was Jesus’ way of connecting and establishing solidarity with the poor and marginalised, and generally, those who were considered outcasts during His time. Sharing a meal around a table is where strangers become friends.

From 22 February to 6 April 2023, Methodists are encouraged to connect with low-income families or the socially isolated over a meal. The campaign aims to build a more inclusive community by imitating Jesus’ example of table fellowship. Pey Wah, who attends Ang Mo Kio Chinese Methodist Church, will not only be taking part in Eat Share Connect, but has also rallied her friends to join the outreach and invite socially isolated seniors in their neighbourhood for a meal.

“I intend to bring Quee Huay and another befriendee out for lunch. Both of them are elderly and the pandemic has really exacerbated that sense of loneliness. I hope the get-together will open up their world and assure them they are not alone,” shared Pey Wah.

“After retiring, I’ve been looking for ways to give back to society. There are a lot of socially isolated elderly out there who need our care, and I want to reach out to them. I want them to feel like they are a part of the community, and it makes me happy to see others happy.”

Jesus breaking bread

You can Eat Share Connect with those in need too!

Luke 14:13-14 (NIV)
“When you give a banquet, invite the poor…
you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

As we rebuild our social lives after the pandemic, let us not forget the disadvantaged, isolated and distressed who continue to feel the strain of the crisis.

Eat Share Connect is a communal outreach centred around table fellowship, which was Jesus’ way of connecting with the marginalised and outcasts during his walk on earth. The epitome of love, Jesus broke barriers to embrace all with open arms.

This Lent, be a friend to those in need by hosting a meal for them at your home, church, an MWS Centre or in public venues like community clubs. You can also give a donation to provide meals to those served by MWS, or spread the word and encourage others to join the cause.

For more information, visit www.thegivingmethodist.sg to donate.

By the Methodist Welfare Services Communications Team/ Photos courtesy of Methodist Welfare Services