A Voice to the Voiceless
TUESDAY, 14 JULY 2015 SINGAPORE
See Keen TAN
Dara* shifted about in the shadows of a dim street. Strapped in a tight, revealing red dress, the young girl looked like she had come from Southeast Asia. She stood vulnerably in Geylang, the heart of Singapore’s infamous red-light district.
OMer Maureen Easting was on one of her regular night walks with her co-workers in Geylang, distributing gifts and a scripturally inspired love letter from God to streetwalkers, befriending them and providing a listening ear.
The two women’s paths crossed. Maureen approached the girl and asked if she would like to be prayed for. The girl agreed. While Maureen prayed for her to be the woman God had shaped her to be, tears streamed down the girl’s cheeks.
Like Dara, hundreds of streetwalkers come to Singapore to find work in the sex trade. Many are from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and India. Some are trafficked or tricked into coming to Singapore and coerced into servicing clients. Some are hired by legalised brothels. Some come on a voluntary basis. Many enter Singapore on tourist visas; others freelance while holding additional jobs. Some are even residents of Singapore.
Since last year, God has opened doors for OM in Singapore to work in this under-served community in Geylang. On a certain night of the week, the team prayerfully sets out on foot to the streets, carrying baskets filled with goodies and good news. They then strike up conversations with the ladies, seizing every opportunity to pray with them.
What can I do?
God inspired Maureen to launch the ministry when she was travelling on a train in Singapore. She noticed a family in the same carriage: a mother with a newborn baby, her young son and a Filipino domestic worker.
The little boy was fidgety and became violent towards his domestic helper, hitting her relentlessly. The mother turned a blind eye to her child, while onlookers diverted their stares uncomfortably. As Maureen got off the train at her stop, she caught a glimpse of the poor, invisible domestic worker, whose tears streamed down her cheeks.
Disturbed by the scene, Maureen asked God, “What can I do?”
She went on a silent retreat to seek the heart of God. It was there that God brought to her memory the plight of the domestic worker on board the train. Maureen felt God telling her distinctly that there were many vulnerable people without a voice. He was calling her to be “a voice to the voiceless.” Maureen explored what she could do to fulfill that call.
God then led Maureen to join a walk organised by a group called Geylang Bless God (GBG) in Geylang. During the walk, Maureen observed rows and rows of streetwalkers standing along several streets under the watchful eyes of their pimps.
Maureen felt incensed at the injustice, but God spoke to her, saying that every streetwalker and pimp needs the saving grace of Jesus. That was when God birthed in Maureen’s heart the call to share the love and hope of Jesus with this group of men and women.
A difference in one person’s life
Today, Maureen leads a team of OM volunteers to raise awareness, mobilise prayer and reach out to streetwalkers and migrant workers in Geylang, befriending them and expressing God’s love to them.
The volunteers who have participated in the walks have been moved by the Holy Spirit in different ways. Leow Siew Duan, wife of OM Singapore Executive Director, Terence Loke, said, “I met a petite 18-year-old girl who couldn’t speak English. She was probably my daughter’s age. She was so young.”
Participant May Kwan, a student, said, “I thank God for the opportunity to pray for Siti*, a streetwalker from Indonesia. Siti said she believed in the Gospel but, unfortunately, had to find desperate means of supporting her children back home. Behind every one of these women, there is a sad story to tell.”
OM Ministries Team Leader Edwin Koh reported, “During one walk, we spoke with a brothel owner. He was sick and asked us to pray for him. […] We also prayed for a couple of migrant workers who were loitering aimlessly in the streets.”
Some pimps and streetwalkers are fast becoming friends with the OM team, open to engaging in conversation and receiving prayers. Does this mean they welcome the team’s extension of Jesus’ love and hope? One thing stands out for sure: God has opened up pathways in Geylang. He walks amongst the lost and downtrodden.
When asked whether she feels overwhelmed by the task at hand, Maureen concluded, “It’s not above you if you seek to make a difference in one person’s life.”