Stories of the poor

Extreme Poverty

When I met the family of this old woman and found out they are all sick and have no income, I prayed to God for wisdom to help them and my prayer was answered.

– Khoo’s story

1. See

Observe the facts, know the reality.

2. Judge

Use social analysis and moral values to make judgement about the facts.

3. Act

Plan a realistic and effective strategy to action.

1st Step:


Journey with a family who lives in extreme poverty

A woman in her 60’s reached out to me for help. Her name was Irene. She and her family were facing financial issues. I visited the family and found out that she lived with her five siblings in a small house. They have no furniture, no mattresses, no pillows and no TV. There were only many plastic bags containing their clothes on the floor. I spoke with the family members to try to understand their problems. The eldest brother, aged 72, was seriously ill and passed away a few days after my visit. Irene was second child in the family and the only breadwinner in the family but she was unable to work due to a leg injury. The third was in a wheelchair and the fourth was mentally challenged – a slow learner having difficulties with thinking and reasoning. The youngest one among them had been diagnosed with cancer. 

Unfortunately the eldest brother passed away after a few days. I frequently visited the family – cooking, bringing rations, spending time with them and tried to help them as best I could. When Irene recovered from her injury and was able to walk, we tried our best to find a job for her. At the age of 60, it was a challenge but with God’s grace, we managed to find her employment.

She was happy when she knew she could continue to work. But one day before she started work, I received the bad news from her family that she too suddenly passed away. I couldn’t believe it as I had already formed a close relationship with her. I cried for so many nights. I remember once when she asked me how I could be so kind hearted as to help them. I took the opportunity then to share my faith with her because making Jesus known to her and her family would give them hope. All the while, I did not tell them I was a Christian, as my first priority is to love people and bring the fragrance of Jesus with me, in whatever I do. She rejoiced when she heard the Good News and promised me she would pray to Jesus.

At her funeral, I realize there were still three persons in the family that needed my help. After praying for God’s guidance, I approached the woman who had a learning disability. I thought she would be able to work in a kitchen. She agreed to learn and now works as a kitchen helper in a soup kitchen. Every day, she helps serve lunch to the poor and brings home food for her sick siblings. She is now properly trained for work and can earn to pay for her family’s living expenses.

My name is Khoo Cheng See. I have been actively involved in serving the poor families in Penang for more than 20 years. Irene’s family is just one of the many destitute families that my team and I serve. There are countless families living in extreme poverty, with complicated conditions and no one is willing to care. If we would open our eyes to look around our neighborhood, we would easily find them. I was once afraid to reach out to the poor but God changed my heart when I surrendered my fear to him. He gave me courage and justified me in His calling for me to this mission.

Every day, early in the morning, I must spend time with Jesus and pray with the Bible because this is how I draw strength from my Lord. Jesus is not only present in the church, but also in our surroundings, especially in the faces of the poor, for He chose to be born among the poor, lived with the poor, was rejected by his own people, persecuted for the sake of righteousness and died on the cross. In the Bible, we read about him defending the poor and teaching his disciples to care for them. We know He loves the poor and wants to crown them with salvation. So, we must be an authentic disciple of Christ by bringing the fragrance of Jesus to everyone we meet because many broken families need to hear the hope from God. In our own little ways, it is important that we put our faith into action and make Jesus known to our neighbour through our good deeds. We all can be the little light of Christ, who shines in this dark world. When we obey every command that Jesus gave us, the love of God will come into perfection in us.

For I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

2nd Step:


3rd Step:



Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy. 


O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal life.


Make us worthy Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and joy.

I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve Him among the poorest of the poor. It was an order.

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.

You and I, we are Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is  because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. 

Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me. 

Lord God, You came to give honour to the least, those forgotten, overlooked and misjudged.

You came to give first place to the last, those left behind, misunderstood and undervalued.

You came to give a warm welcome to the lost, those who are orphaned, abandoned and destitute.

Help us to be your ears to listen to their cries. Help us to be your voice speaking out love and acceptance.

Help us to be your feet walking beside those in need.

Help us to be your hands to clothe, feed and shelter them.

You came for the least, the lost and last of this world.

Lord, hear our prayer.


Give Alms

  1. Work with your BEC coordinators to find out how many families, regardless of their race or religion, are struggling to make ends meet in your BEC, in order to provide them with food and other necessities. Gather the items from the parishioners. You need a room to store the goods.
  2. Pay them a home visit and identify the sick from each family because there may be diabetic and kidney patients among them who may be unable to take certain foods.
  3. Volunteer to pack the rations, deliver to the families, interact with them, bring them to the hospital, help them to apply for welfare services, as help them as needed.
  4. Pray before your outreach, pray before every meeting, keep the poor in your daily prayer.
  5. Remember not to take photos of the poor, without their consent.
  6. Ask your parish priest to give a special homily at mass to create awareness of the poor.
  7. Partner with other charity NGOs, if needed.
  8. After Lent, continue to visit and journey with them.


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