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From Flats to Prison: Unforgettable Moments of Connection and Impact

The year 2018 was a pivotal one that reshaped my perspective on ministry work. It was the year I joined Malaysian CARE and embarked on a life-changing journey. As a newcomer, I was assigned to serve a low-cost flat community in Setapak, where I would come to discover the true essence of community engagement. The genuine fellowship we shared made me eager to go the extra mile in serving the community. Every task assigned to me felt like an opportunity to make a meaningful difference.

During my routine visits and while coordinating the Financial Literacy Programme for the residents, I came to know a remarkable woman, Aunty Malar*, who was battling cancer. With each visit, she welcomed my colleagues and me into her home as though we were family. Her warmth and hospitality left an indelible impression on my heart. We became so fond of her, we even visited her during her hospital stays.

After nearly two transformative years in Setapak, just before the onset of MCO (Movement Control Order), I was transferred to the prison department. As prison-related responsibilities filled up my schedule, my time in Setapak gradually faded into the background. 

Fast forward to 2022, Aunty Malar unexpectedly stumbled upon a Malaysian CARE event. She approached a colleague to ask for me, who promptly notified me of her presence and sent her regards. With the intention to reconnect, I, along with another colleague of mine, paid her a visit at her home. Her face lit up with joy the instant she saw me, and we had a meaningful conversation and time of fellowship. Little did I know she was at her final stage of cancer.

Reconnected with Aunty Malar, who welcomed us with the same warmth and hospitality.

A few months later, I received the heartbreaking news of her passing.

Growing up, I had never fully comprehended the immense impact of serving others. Recalling the joy on Aunty Malar’s face upon seeing me months prior made me realise the profound impact that the smallest of gestures and acts of kindness can have on a person's life.

There will be times when we get hurt or face challenges while helping others, but these should not deter us from fulfilling God's calling and purpose for us. As 1 Corinthians 15:58 reminds us,  "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain." Every effort invested in service will be remembered.

Left: Eric presenting the Prison Annual Report to prison officers from Penjara Kajang, Penjara Wanita Kajang and Pusat Koreksional Puncak Alam (PKPA).
Right: Eric with clients at Rumah Petros, our male halfway home for ex-prisoners.

Witnessing the transformation in people's lives compels me to do more and continue to serve the One who has sent me. It encourages me to let God use me as a vessel for His kingdom, allowing others to witness the love of Christ through my actions. Let us follow the example of Christ, who came to serve others with selflessness and love.

* Name altered to protect identity.
Story written by Eric Ruban, Leader - Community Development (Prison)