By Rev Dr Edward Goh
Channel News Asia recently reported that some teachers’ mental health is at an all-time low. An engagement survey shows thirty per cent of the MOE teachers are struggling to cope with the increased work stress brought about by the need to generate new lesson plans, online quizzes, and monitor the emotional cum mental health of students amid the pandemic. Another survey among those 55 to 75 shows the loss of jobs and social isolation have negatively impacted a segment of them. These are the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our interlinked economy and society. The church is not spared.
Within our church community, a myriad of needs has been surfaced by the pandemic. We can no longer remain contented with just providing worshippers with a well put together Sunday experience through our worship services. Many worshippers have not come onsite since the start of the pandemic. Some on our membership list are not even contactable. It reveals the need to build a more tightly knitted community so that we can ascertain our members are not walking alone in their discipleship journey. Lone rangers are easier prey for savage wolves. And Satan is a roaring lion. Ecclesiastes 4:10-12 says, “But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up . . . . A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
The danger and disadvantages of walking alone have become more evident in these difficult times. But this also presents a gospel opportunity to call the church back to God’s design for discipleship. The Lord Jesus gave us the new commandment in John 13:34-35 that calls us to love one another. By our love, people will know we are His disciples. A strong disciple-making community provides not just a safety net for believers to watch out for one another but also a credible witness to non-believers. It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a Gospel-centered community to raise a disciple. And it takes a Gospel-practicing community to reach the non-believing world.
Among those we know, are there some who are weary and heavy-laden because of their circumstances? Are we equipped to respond to them in helpful ways? Do we have the resources to do so? Alone on our own, such tasks can be too intimidating. But if we have a community of committed brothers and sisters praying with us, sharing the burden, helping alongside, the task can become doable. The small groups in our church are where we can grow together to become such communities. Would you seek to be a part of such communities among us? Would you please pray that God will help us do so as we journey together in the days ahead?