#276 volunteering and charity

I seem to be confronted with young men and women representing non-profit organisations to give. These individuals are apparently being paid to do the job.

There are the flag days where students are required to give their time to ask for donations for these non-profit organisations.

What is volunteering today? Does being a volunteer means giving one’s time and energies to help the less fortunate or those in need by asking for donations from those around?

It appears the non-profit organisations are creating jobs for individuals who are paid to ask for donations. Are they creating a glorified begging system?

Gone are the days when volunteers gave out of goodwill — their time, money and energies.

Today, people are being paid to volunteer. A classic example is the charity shows where celebrities are paid for their services. So it appears celebrities are doing good works but the truth is they receive an income in addition to their already well-paid celebrity status. Are these celebrities making a mockery of their fans?

Now street vendors asking for donations are themselves paid to do the job of charity!

#275 farewell to the woman I most admired

On Monday, October 4th, I paid my last respect to the woman I admired most (blog #39 written on March 2008) at Sri Temasek. 


Glad it was an overcast afternoon when I had to queue for almost an hour at the entrance of the Istana before boarding a van which brought us to Sri Temasek where we had to queue again before entering the room. This time I was pleasantly greeted with beautiful Bach music played on cello filling the room with quietness, serenity and peace that brought tears to my eyes while waiting for others to assemble to give our last respect. 

Mrs Lee Kuan Yew nee Madam Kwa Geok Choo entered gloryland on Saturday 2nd October 2010 who had left Singapore women an extraordinary example: her husband claimed she was his tower of strength. Those words speak volume. Words cannot describe all that she had quietly professed to live — silent yet loud; low profile yet shining and bright. What a good fight our late Mrs Lee, founding mother, had fought!

The late Mrs Lee also represents the 1st generation of Singaporean women, born or adopted, who valiantly fought beside their husbands to make Singapore where she is today.

#274 water everywhere

I grew up in the 1960s when floods were common place. For the past 35 years or so, there was no flood and I have complimented our first echelon of leaders for solving this longstanding and menacing flood problem to my foreign or overseas friends whenever they sprout negative remarks.

Today, and in particular this year 2010, water-level seems to have risen whenever there was heavier rain fall! Why? If the water-level is rising, what precautions are the respective authorities taking? Is this the result of blocked canals? Dare I point the finger — a result of outsourcing jobs where companies run by those who grew up in safe and secure nation-state that they ignore such things as clearing debri or blockages in canals? (Mind you there are more mosquitoes flitting around even on high-floors and rats seen running freely at night in recent years. Should one complain, this falls on deaf ear until that such affects one in authority personally!)

This news about handcuffing a photo-reporter is… Did the policeman read the man’s rights before handcuffing him? If he did not, then this borders abusing of power and infringing on the rights of the public.

If the defense that the photographer did not heed the policeman’s warning, surely the man-in-uniform should know how to outwit the man without making a fool of his uniform!

Mother-nature has a way of revealing some truths!

#273 Is City Harvest Church a social enterprise, financial institution or place of worship?

I had to read and re-read to make sure I had not misread City Harvest Church (CHC) offering loans to needy church members; that some churches gave loans to pastors to pay mortgages on their homes; and instances of offering loans between sister churches — from the afternoon edition of Today!

Sacrilegious! How could money given to tithes and the sacrifices of worshippers be honored for such purposes? Is this not making a mockery of the church as a place where individuals can find solace and to meet with God?

Gone are the days when the church actually help the poor and needy.

In the past, bursaries were awarded to those needy for education and individual members who own companies gave a tenth of earnings in support of the church — a classic example was ‘Tithes Dental’ that was located in Middle Road owned by Elder Goh Ewe Kheng. (Naturally his children could not understand their father’s benevolence toward Christian pastors and missionaries and needs of the church.)

I believe the mainstream church denominations like the Presbyterian still offers bursaries to the needy members’ children for education.

Is helping the poor means treating the old folks and needy to a meal or ferry those elderly to church weekly? Are members of CHC satisfied that the church offers such services?

The Christian Bible has clear understanding on members making loans and never loans offered from the institutional church or temple.

Exodus 22:25 “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest.”

Psalm 15:1,5 The psalmist asks in verse 1 — “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? The psalmist outlines standards throughout the remaining psalm and this is one…

      “…who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. (v.5)”

Exodus 23:8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous.”

Leviticus 25:35-37 “If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you (v.35). Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God so that your countryman may continue to live among you (v.36). You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit (v.37).

These guidelines were given to God’s chosen people, i.e. the Israelites. Lest there be misunderstanding, the Israel referred to in the Bible is NOT about the nation Israel today.

Today, God’s chosen people are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

#272 transparency at the new creation church

News received that the New Creation Church pastor Derek Prince has volunteered his services. This indeed is noble on the pastor’s part.

According to its church goers, New Creation pioneer leader and deacon Jack Ho said it was a “good time to let members understand more about these businesses”.

This would help them “answer with more certainty” if they were asked about the companies, which are fully—owned by the church

MediaCorp understands he spent about 30 minutes listing the five companies, among them BrightStar Child Development Centre, Omega Tours and Travel and Rock Productions

He also told members that Senior Pastor Joseph Prince is now a volunteer at the church and has not received any salary since late last year.

Since 2004, Mr Prince, one of the church’s founders, had asked New Creation to stop paying him but council members rejected the request until last year. [http://news.xin.msn.com/en/singapore/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4132757]

Should a church own business companies? If the church did, is she required to pay corporate tax annually?

Can a house of prayer or a church dapple in making money? In the gospels, Jesus lashed out at businesses conducted in the church premises.

What is the meaning of tithing for a christian?

Can charitable organisations set up business companies to ensure there was sufficient funds to enable the organisations to carry on whatever they stood for?

If so, can this come under the umbrella of charitable organisations? Should the public continue to give?

What is charity? What does raising money for a charitable organisation mean?

#271 begging

Of late I met some strange ways of begging.

Yesterday at a bus stop, a Malay elderly lady didn’t flag the bus when the only bus that ply along the road arrived. I was waiting for a friend. When the bus passed by, this elderly lady carrying a ten dollar note on her left hand and fifty cents on her right. She asked for fifty cents so she could board a bus.

I asked, “Do you have an elderly buscard?” She showed me the concession card hung around her neck. One stop away was the Gombak MRT station where she could top-up the card. As I do not understand or speak Malay, I gave her the fifty cents. I also approached some Malay passerbys to tell her that she could top-up her elderly card at the MRT station. They talked to her and she walked to the MRT station.

When my friend arrived, I said, “We should follow the Malay elderly lady to help her.” Strangely when we reached the MRT station, this Malay elderly lady refused to go the station with me mentioning the word, ‘Bedok’ when I persisted.

This exasperated me as the train ride or bus rides to Bedok meant she might have to pay double the fare if she didn’t use her elderly concession.

Then I saw a Malay young girl and asked her to explain to the elderly lady that there is an officer at the MRT control station who could service her even when she cannot see. The elderly lady still refused. The young Malay girl couldn’t accompany her as she was waiting for her mother as her sandals broke.

A Chinese lady sitting around asked and I explained to her. As I talked and observed this lady’s reaction, it dawned on me this could be a scam.

Is this a scam where the elderly has been asked to beg and in return she has to give a cut to whoever taught her to beg in this manner?

Generally when we see an elderly person, we would give without question. Is this scam to exploit the frail elderly and those kind-hearted?

Corner of Raffles Hotel facing City Hall cross-section: Several weeks ago I met a 45-year-old Chinese lady poorly dressed with unkempt streaks of grey hair asking for two dollars so she could buy some food to eat. I offered to buy her food and she turned around to question my sincerity. This aroused my curiosity. I asked, “Why are you begging?” She spoke good English. By sight, one could dismiss her mentally unstable but not when talking with her though. She came all the way from Toa Payoh to beg! She said, “I’d been tricked many times in following those who would buy me food and then told me they changed their minds.” She added she wanted to get a job but… Looking at her appearance, I said, “If you wanted to go for a job interview, you have to dress tidily and comb your hair otherwise the hirer imagine you’re making a fool of the hirer and yourself”. In the end, I added, “Since you doubted my sincerity, why should I trust you?”

On one occasion at Bugis Junction, an elderly Indian man came to beg money for food. I offered to buy him food as I thought he might use that money to buy booze. Strangely he rejected my offer and quickly disappeared.

In my personal experiences helping the poor and sick, these will never resort to begging however bad their situation. These poor would rather die with dignity!

Lately, I see individuals sitting by the road or pathway leading to MRT stations begging — looking pitiful, lame and frail. Some on wheelchair…

I cease to buy packets of tissues from those elderly as the tissue-packets came from suppliers who get a cut from that sold!

Are these part of a syndicate scam?

#270 solo flight

“I must learn to love the fool in me

the one who feels too much,

talks too much,

takes too many chances,

wins sometimes and loses often,

lacks self-control,

loves and hates,

hurts and gets hurt,

promises and breaks promises,

laughs and cries.”

Theodore Isaac Rubin


 “He is his own best friend, and takes delight in privacy


the man of no virtue or ability is his own worst enemy

and is afraid of solitude.”



  “You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.

And you know what you know.

You’re the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Dr Seuss


Never, never, never say die walking the last leg of life’s journey alone on earth.

#269 volcanic ash disrupt air traffic

The ash spewed from a volcanic eruption, which began as early as April 8th, from the southwestern part of the Iceland’s Eyjafjallajoekull glacier has disrupted air traffic according to news received yesterday.

Experts have warned that the tiny particles of rock, glass and sand contained in the ash cloud could be sufficient to jam aircraft engines

“The meteorological situation is such that the volcanic ash is progressing very slowly eastwards but there is not a lot of wind… so it is very slow and very dense,” he (Mr Flynn) told the Reuters news agency

The move silenced Heathrow airport, the world’s second busiest, and stranded tens of thousands of passengers around the world.

The Republic of Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Finland all later shut down their airspace entirely, while there was also major disruption in France, Germany, Poland and Spain. (quoted from BBC)

According to a resident who had planned to travel from Oslo to London told the BBC, he had to stay home and he could actually smell sulfur in the air.

#268 thrift


is inscribed on a polished block of marble in the center of Rockefeller Center in New York City.

Built during the Great Depression, this building is a monument to the wealth and power of John D. Rockefeller —

“Thrift is essential to well-ordered living.”


Sir John M. Templeton (1912-2008) wrote:

“The qualities that distinguish

thriftiness from mere cheapness

are noteworthy.

Thrift is part of wisdom.

Thrift and gratitude,

thrift and ethical standards, and

thrift and hard work

all go hand in hand.

The Bible, literature, poetry, and philosophy,

as well as examples from daily life and most faith traditions,

demonstrate that thrift is

more than just understanding the bottom line.

Indeed thrift is

part of a religious and cultural understanding of

how we use our time, our talents, and our resources.

As inherently virtuous as thrifty living is,

its capacity for leading to deep joy is severely limited

if its goals are merely self-serving.

On the other hand, when thrift is combined with the virtue of generosity,

when empathy opens the doors for channeling the thriftiness to generosity,

the potential for good is greatly magnified.”

#267 church needs

I do hear this during worship service: we need leaders or volunteers for such-and-such. Why are the clergymen crying out? Why are slips of paper given out to members to fill out areas they can serve?

 When the members filled that out, are they approached? Or, has the church minister become mini-god to decide who can serve?

 If this was the case, why the hypocrisy of handing out slips of paper for members to fill out areas they can serve?

 It appears church ministers recycle members who they had appointed as leaders. They seem not to know new ones to fill that need!???!

 Mind you, there are many groups in the church for the clergyman to tap on — men’s or women’s groups, retirees, adults, youth, bible study or small groups and many others…

 Accordingly, the church minister is called to serve and shepherd the flock of his congregation. If there were dire need among the members, is this not a reflection on his ministry — that he has failed to shepherd his believers to maturity!

 Has the church become an enterprise or corporation that she has to continually hire staff-workers for certain tasks in order that the church can run smoothly? With the economic downturn, will the church have the funds to hire?

 In the past, the church minister has to shoulder lots of task himself with help of his members by delegation. At the time, the church minister was given a stipend. Today, church ministers are well-paid. In fact many are paid at market-rate according to academic qualifications!

 From time-to-time I hear preacher chiding (to him, exhortation) from the pulpit – those attending worship Sunday after Sunday and not participating in church activities are considered pew-warmers.

 Remember, the preacher (and church staff) are called and hired to mature believers. Has he not insulted himself by making such remark? Has he failed in his ministry to inspire members to serve?

 Or, is the spiritual life of the minister and his team still on the milk-level even when they were trained in bible or theological schools!

 My question: has the church minister approached a member for the task he requires? Does he know his members by name? Or, as the excuse goes: “Oh there are too many for one of him to get to know the members?” If that was so, has he the right to scold from the pulpit?

 Often there was allegation or reminder that on judgment day, God will separate the goats from the sheep – hoping this guilt will stir members to involvement.

 Inevitably the preacher puts himself above the congregation that he belongs to the sheep category – that God will pat him on his back and say, “well done my boy, you were called to serve” – is this how that will pan out on that day? I shudder at the thought!

 Glad the God of the Bible is the God of love where He demonstrated His love while we were yet sinners Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected – God experienced that death to save us!

 Is the church minister able to preach, teach and inspire members to capture the magnitude of that love and power of God in Jesus and, in gratitude to return that to God?