“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself.”
Some of the people in Singapore most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, sadly, are the least equipped to deal with it: the many, many thousands of migrant workers who have been quarantined in their bunks as the coronavirus continues to spread through their ranks.
Isolated in massive, packed dormitories, these foreign workers battle both boredom and fear. While much has been done to improve their living conditions, they now can’t leave, and all they can do is wonder when they will be the next to fall sick. Living cheek by jowl in cramped quarters, they face some of the biggest risks in getting the highly-infectious coronavirus from roommates.
Already, some 2,000 workers have been infected, making up more than 40 per cent of all cases in Singapore.
I feel for them in this situation, all the more because these are the people who have been building our homes, cleaning our neighbourhoods, and doing all the jobs we prefer not to.
So, What Can We Do?
The commandments that God gave the Israelites when they entered the Promised Land made reference to the foreigners living in their midst. Having once been foreigners themselves in Egypt, they were to treat the foreigners with nothing less than the greatest love.
“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.” (Leviticus 19:33–34)
The plight of these foreigners—many of who were working in Israelite households—reminds me of the migrant workers today. And the call to “love them as yourselves” reminds me of Jesus’ second commandment to us: “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
But, given that many of us are stuck in our homes, what can we do to help these workers?
Some churches and ministries are exploring ways to reach out to them by having food delivered to them. Some are helping them do small things like topping up their phone cards, packing masks and basic supplies for them, and offering a listening ear on the phone. Others are supporting these efforts financially, donating to buy these items.
Apart from joining in these efforts where we can, one very important thing we can all do is: pray.
It may seem like a small thing, but we know the power of prayer. For it is not our prayer which is powerful, but whom we are praying to. We are praying to a God who can move mountains!
May our prayers for these workers will be answered, because we are praying for people whom God loves. As Proverbs 15:8 encourages us: “the prayer of the upright pleases him.”
Please join us, then, in praying…
- That our migrant friends will experience God’s love even in their isolation, and receive His comfort and strength.
- That churches and Christian ministries will find creative ways to minister to them and share the message of hope in Christ, and that these efforts will be fruitful. Our Daily Bread Ministries is now working with some of these ministries to see how we can share God’s comfort and love to them.
- That the Holy Spirit will open hearts and minds to receive His grace and love and know that Jesus is Christ, who came to seek and save the lost.
If you know of anyone or any ministry involved in reaching out to migrant workers, you could also download PDF copies of A Story of Hope, and share it with them. It’s also available in Tamil, Chinese, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Myanmar and Khmer.
Dear Lord, my heart goes out to
the thousands of migrant workers
affected by the coronavirus.
Please minister to them,
and may they experience Your
love, comfort, and strength today.