Length: 3-minute read
Build Bridges, Don’t Build Walls
This weekend we are holding an inter-faith Joint Blood Donation Drive at Heart of God Church. This was one of 3 Joint Community Programs that we launched together with Khalid Mosque and Geylang United Temple at the inaugural Heart of God Church Youth & Community Event last May. (Read about the full event here)
(from left to right) Former Lions XII Captain Isa Halim, Chairman Masjid Khalid Alla’udin Bin Mohamad, PBM, Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, Chairperson Geylang United Temple Mdm Lian Sock Kuan, Heart of God Church Board Member Jacob Tan
At the event, I explained why we need to engage the community and encouraged our youths to “Build Bridges, Not Walls”. This is the full transcript of what I shared.
A pastor once told me, “When your life is in darkness, pray to God and ask Him to free you from darkness. But if you are still in darkness after praying, please go pay your PUB bill.”
Jokes aside, it is very good advice because, in life, we need to be both spiritual and practical at the same time.
Of course we pray for peace and prosperity for our nation, we pray for racial and religious harmony; but beyond prayers, we also need to be the hands and feet to our prayers.
This event – the Heart of God Church Youth & Community Event – is significant.
This is the first time we are having such an event.
HOGC just moved into this premises on 31 January 2016. With this new home, it is important to get to know our neighbors and build good relationships.
HOGC, let’s Build bridges. Don’t build walls.
In our personal lives, if we build a wall or front against our parents, then our siblings, then our spouse, then our friends—If we build too many walls, one day we will find ourselves in a prison built by ourselves.
In the same way, a church can build too many walls.
If we start saying we don’t like this denomination or that religion or that ethnic group—soon we will be in a prison. Don’t be insulated and isolated from our community.
To HOGC members who may be wondering “What is this about? Why we are doing this?”
There are 2 reasons.
We need to build a good relationship of trust and cooperation with all our neighbors.
Recently, 3 girls from the Madrasah were attacked.
It happened right in our backyard, at the Paya Lebar MRT station.
Allow me to paint you a worst-case scenario.
If the perpetrators were youths from HOGC it can easily escalate into a Christian vs. Muslim tension.
You say, “nah” “it won’t happen” “none of us would do such an atrocious act.”
And I agree.
I know you won’t, but every weekend we have so many new friends and visitors.
Some are in church for just a few months.
They identify themselves as Christians and HOGC members, but their characters are still very un-Christian.
We also reach out to youth at risk and gangsters.
Anytime you have big groups of youths together, there can be potential flashpoints. Things can easily escalate. And with social media fanning the flames, it can easily spin out of control. It can become a Perfect Storm.
BUT if we can build a good relationship of trust, if we can pick up the phone, clear up any misunderstandings, hear both sides of the story, apologize if necessary—it will cool temperatures and stop any retaliation. We can de-escalate the situation and diffuse the bomb.
We must always expect the best but prepare for the worst.
If in case a terrorist attack happens, we need to present a united front with our Muslim brothers.
We must not allow Islamophobia or any prejudice against Muslims to creep into our society.
In Europe, anti-Islamic parties are getting stronger.
So in Singapore we cannot fall into this trap.
One of the best ways to send a strong statement and signal of Unity is a Blood Donation Drive with all religions and races.
Under every skin color and every creed, we all bleed the same color – Red.
Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef is a medical doctor. She will tell you that there is no such thing as Chinese blood, or Indian blood or ‘Ang Mor’ blood or Buddhist blood or Christian blood.
It is so wonderful that God made it this way.
The Malay blood can save a Chinese man.
The Hindu blood can save a Christian man.
Red is also our National color.
So when we all in the IRCC and community collaborate to give blood, it not only helps save lives; but it is also an act of unity.
So I would like to encourage HOGC members to support this – “Red is the Color of Harmony” blood donation drive.
Once again, thank you Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef and the Geylang Serai IRCC for your support.
– Tan Seow How, 2016