Chinese communities all around the world will be celebrating the Lunar New Year in the days ahead. Shops are closed, businesses wind down, in Singapore, especially on the 1st 2 days, most outside areas would appear like a ghost town. I have had several foreign friends sharing their surprise to not be able to find places to eat, save for fast food and restaurants. Our youth and young adults are both having reunion-type gatherings in the month of February, as would most Chinese families as well. Perhaps you might want to consider inviting your non-Chinese friends, colleagues or even foreigners or expatriates in our midst, even in our church to your family gatherings.

The Bible talks about showing love to the foreigners in our midst. Lev. 19:33-34 says, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” Likewise, Deut. 10:18-19 says, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”

How can we, as blessed children of God, as a Christian community blessed by the Lord, be in turn a blessing to those around us?

Firstly, we can treat others with respect. Jesus teaches us in Matt. 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Set an example for others, including our children, that everyone is created in the image of God, and deserves dignity and honour, regardless of their race or religion.

Secondly, we can find ways to be kind and generous. I read of a 68-year-old senior citizen, Mr Rimy Lau, who was offered a seat by 3 foreign workers from India on the MRT train recently, and he declined, saying “You don’t always have to give up your seat. You come here to build our homes, so you can sit also, you know?” One of the trio, Mr Saravanan Samidurai, 28, took a selfie with the Singaporean man, and their story went viral. The article ended, “They became ‘neighbours’ on the train by chance but became ‘friends by choice’.” Mr Saravanan also shared, “Mr Lau – a Chinese Singaporean man speaking to me on my first few days here – made me feel like an equal.” They were recently both honoured by the Singapore Kindness Movement.

Lastly, we can pray and give thanks for the foreigners in our midst. In 2015, close to 30% of Singapore’s population are non-resident. Let’s continue to pray for wisdom and fairness in government manpower policies towards foreign workers, especially in the construction and domestic helper sectors, and also for churches, social service agencies and community organisations to reach out, meet needs and be blessings to the nations, right at our doorstep.

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