I looked at John (not his real name) from across the classroom. He was always cheerful, sociable and friendly; he did well in school.

But that was just the facade. A classmate of his said John doesn’t eat lunch when he joins them at the foodcourt – because he doesn’t have any money. Sometimes, he even goes to school on an empty stomach, and only eats at night after his father, a dish-washer, returns home from his shift with leftovers from the restaurant where he works.

I was stunned to hear this. How is it possible that poverty of this magnitude still exists in Singapore? Maybe it was the ignorance of my privileged, middle-income upbringing speaking, but I’d always thought that the poor in Singapore aren’t really that poor.

One day in class, I noticed John seated right in front of me, looking a little more tired than usual. I called him into my office.

“Have you eaten?”

He was relieved. He’d thought I wanted to speak to him about the assessment he’d handed in a few days ago.


He began to share about his financial situation at home. Mum had been in jail for a gambling-related offence, dad’s work was affected after he got into an accident, there was the house mortgage of more than $1,000 a month to pay, as well as school fees for him and his sister.

So to save money to pay for his own education – in case he stopped receiving bursary money for whatever reason – he decided to save his $10 a day allowance, not spend it on food. Just in case.

Up to then, I’d toyed with the idea of sponsoring his meals, or passing him $200 a month to make sure he wasn’t skipping meals. But when I heard him speak, I began doing a little internal bargaining with God: At least he’s receiving an allowance! He doesn’t really need any money at this point!

How strange that the heart can be so willing, yet so reluctant at the same time.

But when I got my wallet out to fish a $10 bill to pass to John, I could only find a $50 note. Seriously, God?! So much?

How strange that the heart can be so willing, yet so reluctant at the same time. I guess this is what happens when costs are weighed when help is being rendered.

Then something inside me spoke: Jesus never counted the costs … He gave EVERYTHING to help others. Including me.

“Here, take this … I think God wants you to have it,” I said as I placed the $50 note on the table.

The next thing I knew, the smiley John I knew from class began to cry uncontrollably.


“John, I want you to be honest with me. Have you had anything to eat at all today?”

He shook his head.

“I want you to take this $50, and go and get yourself a good lunch later. Try to spread the money out as long as you can, but you have to eat. And if you ever need any more money for food, I want you to ask me for it, okay?”

John nodded.

At the end of the prayer, we were both in tears. Who knew $50 could have such an impact and make such a difference in somebody’s life?

He allowed me to pray for him. I prayed that God would reveal His love and heart for John, and for Him to be his provider, his Jehovah Jireh. I also prayed for John to experience God’s love for him first-hand.

At the end of the prayer, we were both in tears. Who knew $50 could have such an impact and make such a difference in somebody’s life?

While I think I will always struggle to some degree when it comes to helping others, the fact is that most of us really don’t have to look very far for opportunities to minister His love to others, through various acts of grace and kindness.

In fact, it would be almost something of an irresponsible act if I didn’t take any action to administer His love and care to the people so much in need of it. As the saying goes: Blessed to be a blessing.

Perhaps if we could all live with the mentality that everything we possess is not really ours, but has simply been loaned to us so that we may be responsible custodians and stewards – and therefore be happy to give it away where needed – the world would be a more gracious, giving and loving place to live in.