Greetings from Malaysia!

The nightmare of driving our 4WD Toyota Hilux on a steep, potholed muddy road to the river bank where the Longhouse folk were waiting for us gifted me with an opportunity to deepen my understanding of Amare et Servire, as our founder Herbert Cardinal Vaughan put it.

But despite our slightly rattled bones, we continue to reach out.

The COVID-19 pandemic is really hitting our Kapit Parish hard on a daily basis. Since March 2020, we have been swinging between partial and total lockdown. We’re in a total lockdown again at the moment, which means many people in our community are struggling even more than usual, to earn their living and provide basic needs for their families. And the end of lockdown is still not definite; it depends on the recorded daily cases.

At this time of uncertainty and urgent need, our Church of Mary the Immaculate Conception in Kapit continues to reach out to those people living in the Longhouses.

Most of the Longhouse folk basically rely on daily wages which are not guaranteed. So they’re rendered jobless during lockdowns.

But in our mission, we continue to reach out. All our parishioners are hungering and thirsting for the Eucharist, hoping that Churches are reopened soon. But it’s even worse for the many who have also lost their means of income. They are hungering and thirsting for both the Eucharist and for basic needs, like food.

No hands but ours

As followers of Christ, we can’t afford to sit back in indifference while the people of God agonise in their anguish, hoping for a Good Samaritan to pass by. Of course, we pray for people who are poor and in need, and as significant as that is, we are also unquestionably obliged to extend our helping hand.

We recently managed to organise a little charity campaign in the parish, and thanks to people of goodwill who contributed both in cash and in kind, we were able to help around 70 families within our parish.

A bag of rice, cooking oil, wheat flour, sugar, noodles, coffee, tea, eggs and biscuits given to each family, left a broad smile on their faces. I was deeply touched by their happiness. And I am personally sincerely touched by the kind-hearted people who helped us with donations. We pray that God blesses them abundantly.

Small things with great love

We help as many people as we possibly can. But there are many others who need similar help, and we’re always working to increase our capacity. Keeping in mind the words of Jesus to love one another as you love yourself, this pandemic challenges us to take up collective responsibility of reaching out to the other in great need.

Besides, St Mother Theresa rightly said:

‘Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love’.

The small help of food stuffs may not be sufficient for families in the long term. But it can at least sustain the families for a few days. What matters, I believe, is the love with which that help is offered – and many small acts of love can create a massive change.

This beautiful verse from the gospel of St Matthew reminds each one of us at this time to reach out to the people who are in desperate need for basic human needs:

‘Truly, I say to you: whenever you did this to one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me’. ( MT: 25: 49 ).

Every prayer and penny counts

It’s amazing that when we reached out to the people of God, the first thing they asked us is to pray over them and for their families.

The mission of helping anyone who is in need has been a source of great happiness and fulfilment in my missionary priesthood life.

We earnestly continue to pray for more generous people to come forward to help, in order to reach out to many more desperate families in need. Jesus teaches us to be ‘the Salt of the earth and Light of the world’.

Let’s be a beacon of hope to the people, a reminder to them that this is only temporary, the better days will come by the grace of God.

God Bless,

Fr Michael

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