With mostly bad news dominating the headlines in recent days, it was refreshing this week to read an amazing story of an article about an 83-year-old man who received the Singapore Patient Caregiver Award for helping other elderly folks in his neighbourhood.

Despite having little in the way of finances himself, Mr Lee Cho Poon has been taking care of other old men whom he met on the street while busking. He has not only let them stay with him in his one-room rental flat, fed and clothed them on his meagre savings, but has also cared for them when they were sick, even arranging their funerals when they died—again, all at his own expense.

I felt quite inspired—and maybe even a little ashamed—after reading the Straits Times article. Here was someone who had so little, and yet was so prepared to go all out to help people he hardly knew. Why did he do all this? Because, he was reported as saying, “they are like my brothers.”

The article doesn’t say if Mr Lee is a believer, but he certainly exemplifies what Jesus called us to do when He commanded us to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

What struck me in particular about Mr Lee was that . . .

He doesn’t think himself too old to help. At 83, Mr Lee is older than the men he has helped. He probably doesn’t say things like, “I’m so old, what can I do?”. Instead of lamenting what he can’t do, he just does what he can—and lets his compassion drive his actions.

He puts others’ needs before his own. Mr Lee clearly doesn’t have much, yet he thinks little of sharing the very little he has. Which makes me think: As a believer, I have the assurance that God will take care of all my needs (Matthew 10:29–31). So what excuse do I have for not helping others . . . with His resources?

He expects nothing in return. In helping equally poor people, Mr Lee knows he will never be rewarded. He does this purely from compassion. What about me? Do I harbour some hope that I will somehow benefit? Or should I remember that pleasing God would be enough of a reward for me?

He does what he can. With limited resources, there is only so much Mr Lee can do. But that hasn’t stopped him from starting. In contrast, I often think too much about whether I should commit to helping someone because of what that might mean in the long term, whether I can keep it up, and will I be overstretched . . . and so on. Perhaps the only thing I should ask myself is: What can I do?

James tells us: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (1:27). Then he challenges us: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (2:14)

This amazing story of Mr Lee, a true Samaritan, is a real challenge to me. But I believe Jesus will not be looking at what I have failed to do. Rather, all He says at the end of His parable are these simple words in Luke 10:27: “Go and do likewise.”

 

Lord, please open my eyes and my heart to the opportunities to help others in any way I can. You have blessed me greatly, please help me to bless others too.

Leslie Koh spent more than 15 years as a journalist in The Straits Times before moving to Our Daily Bread Ministries. He’s found moving from bad news to good news most rewarding, and still believes that nothing reaches out to people better than a good, compelling story. He likes eating (a lot), travelling, running, editing, and writing.

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