Why would a person spend two weeks helping out at a foreign worker dormitory despite the risks to her and her family?
For Lydia, it was simply a case of doing what Jesus would have done.
The analyst had been feeling “very disturbed” by the news she had read about spread of COVID-19 in the dormitories, and wondered if there was anything she could do. “On Easter Sunday I was especially burdened and wondered what the resurrection of Christ meant for those who were really affected and struggling in this crisis,” she says.
It would seem that God gave her an answer to that question.
Lydia (extreme left) with her friends.
That same afternoon, Lydia heard that her workplace was asking for volunteers to help out at a dormitory. Hospitals and polyclinics were deploying medical teams at foreign worker dormitories to look after the workers in their quarters. With the coronavirus spreading fast in their community, help was needed to check those who were feeling unwell and do swab tests for those who showed signs of infection.
Lydia could see that these teams were not just about providing medical support. They would also play a crucial role in giving assurance to the workers, many of whom were frightened about being infected, worried about their families back home, and fearful that they would lose their jobs amid the shutdowns. Many were also struggling with the stresses of being confined to their quarters for weeks on end.
Was God, Lydia wondered, prompting her to volunteer with the medical teams?
“At that point, I was keen,” she recalls, “but still apprehensive.”
While the actual risks of getting infected was low—volunteers would be trained in using personal protective equipment and there were strict procedures in place—there was still some risk involved, she notes. “I was not so much worried about being infected myself, but more worried about possibly bringing the virus home to my family, especially because I live with an aunt who is in poor health.”
When Lydia told her father about her plans, he was somewhat doubtful. Clearly, while he appreciated her desire to help, he was also worried that she would be putting herself and the family at risk.
As she was praying over the decision, she received what seemed to be another prompter.
Later that afternoon, she watched a stage production which showed how Jesus had embraced a leper while everyone else had reeled back in fear. The scene struck her deeply, she recalls.
“I realised that Jesus would have been the first person to go into the dorms to meet these workers,” she says.
Then, she also recalled the words of Leviticus 19:33–34: “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
All these seemed to confirm what she was thinking: Go and help those workers.
After she made that decision to sign up, everything went smoothly.
Her father “soon came around” and became supportive of the idea, and helped her clean up an empty flat that was available at the time. Lydia had decided to move out of their home for a few weeks to reduce the risk of infecting her aunt. Her dad even delivered dinners to her throughout her deployment.
Her friends were also very encouraging and supportive. One of them encouraged her with this thought: God will grant you a “special” grace when He burdens you with something. Says Lydia: “This support of my family and friends helped me to move forward with my decision despite my initial apprehensions.”
Those two weeks at the dormitories proved to be tiring but meaningful. Every day, Lydia saw worker after worker come in for help. While the work was not easy, she could see how the presence and care of the medical teams were reassuring to the worried workers. Just being able to smile through her eyes, speak to them, and show them that they were not being abandoned, made all the efforts worthwhile. “It was a privilege to be able to volunteer,” she says.
Lydia has since returned to her work, but she will always remember how God gave her the courage and strength to stand in the gap and share God’s love in a way she could.
“I believe that God does grant grace when He calls us to something,” she says. “He also granted me much joy and allowed me to experience His provision through this.”
Ultimately, what made her do it? She replies: “In short, I guess I decided to do it because Jesus would have done it.”