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ETAC: Touching and transforming lives of migrant workers

Photos courtesy of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference

The recent trend towards ministry among migrant workers began over two decades ago. Telugu Methodist Church (Singapore) is the fruit of ministry among migrant workers by Tamil Methodist Church, Short Street. Since then, it has been serving the migrant community at various dormitories. It is God’s love that compels us to serve these precious workers. Our Lord Jesus, our role model, stood with the oppressed, neglected and weak. We tend to ignore them and create stereotypes of them as aliens. But God loves them and cares for them.

In our conversations with migrant workers, we hear very interesting stories. Most of them are exploited by their agents who send them to Singapore. They are promised huge salaries, but paid very little. This discrepancy in expected pay would be their first shock. Many of them struggle to cope with loneliness, ill-treatment at work, delayed pay and immense financial pressure from their agents.

Injured workers are in a worse situation. Firstly, they cannot work. Secondly, if they request compensation, they are threatened with being sent back to their countries or replaced. This is another shock to them. All these circumstances leave them voiceless and vulnerable. Who is there to stand with them? Who hears their cry?

Sushil is a fine young man from Bangladesh. He is a skilled construction worker. He dreamt of becoming an IT engineer, but his plans crumbled due to financial difficulties. He picked up plumbing and electrical work, became a breadwinner, and took a loan to come to Singapore. Alas! He fell into the hands of middlemen who cheated him of a large sum of money.

He felt lost, broken and defeated, and was utterly dejected. He felt that he had no one to turn to. Thoughts of ending his life were strong. I looked at him and said: “Sushil, my God, the Lord Jesus whom I believe in, will not leave you alone. He is always with you.” Immediately, I saw tears rolling down his face. After a few moments, there was a smile and an expression of peace on his face.

He looks forward to meeting us and the volunteers weekly when he attends the English and computer classes (picture above) organised by SEVA (a joint ministry by Telugu MC and Methodist Welfare Services). We strongly believe that God has a plan for Sushil.

Changed lives are what continue to motivate us in this ministry – when we see their desire to rise up in life, and what God is doing in them and among them.

Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) sensed that God is leading us to come alongside these precious workers and help them by standing with them, sharing Christ’s love and giving them hope in their situations. ETAC looks out for opportunities to partner with churches willing to make a difference in the lives of these workers and transform their future by His grace.

Other churches in ETAC stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Telugu MC in serving these friends. God has blessed this ministry. Many are being saved and are growing in faith. God has raised leaders, pastors and evangelists. However, the need is still great; as the Bible says: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2) We need more volunteers to serve the migrants with dignity and love.

Join us, as we look forward to giving hope by being a voice for the voiceless and help to the helpless, and touching many more lives for God’s kingdom.

PRAY  for more volunteers and churches to come alongside ETAC in this much-needed ministry to migrant workers.

Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference

In addition to profiling local churches from our three Annual Conferences of The Methodist Church in Singapore, we also begin profiling ministries. As we come to have a better understanding of each other’s history and ministry, we may discover more opportunities to forge cross-church partnerships and collaborations.

The Rev Anil Kumar Samuel –

is Pastor-in-Charge of Telugu Methodist Church.