Stories of the poor


Adults who are abused as children often turn to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms to deal with their childhood trauma. God can heal their brokenness. How can we bring the love of Jesus to them and them to Jesus?

– Boon’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:


Beaten and unloved as a child, he became a drug addict and was imprisoned.

My name is Boon. I’m 45 years old and from Sitiawan. Eight months ago, I was released from prison. I was sent there due to drug abuse. To be honest I had entered prison more than 10 times for the same reason. I also wondered why I couldn’t change, I had tried to kill myself many times but failed to do so.

When I was younger, my family and I lived in a remote area in Setiawan. I was frequently beaten up by my dad. He used to drink a lot and whenever he came back home he would look for me and beat me, but my mom would come to rescue me. My mom was the only one who protected me.

At the age of 10, I began to look for friends outside to rely on from outside because my home was not a safe place and I lived in fear with my father. Soon, I met some elderly men and they introduced me to drugs. I started taking them as they made me feel happy and I became addicted to that feeling everyday. My family soon realized something was wrong with through my behaviour and found out I was addicted to drugs.

During those years I was addicted to designer drugs which affected my physical and mental health, my education and my right to live with my family. I was told to leave my home by my family when I was 15 because of my addiction. From Setiawan I moved to Kuala Lumpur, Johor and then Penang. Everywhere I went I could not stop looking for drugs. I tried to work but when my addiction came back I would go and buy drugs. The addiction made me lose my job as I was not doing well at work.

I arrived in Penang at the age of 22, I thought I could start a new life here. I found a good job but after not more than 2 months in the job, the addiction came back to haunt me. I spent all my hard earned money on drugs and was caught by the police for drug abuse. My life as a prisoner began from the age of 22. Every time I was released, I didn’t know where else I can go so I would visit the group of wrong friends and I would get arrested again.

After 23 years of going in and out of prison, I started to question myself “what is life?”. In the prison, I met a man from the Catholic Church Prison Ministry, he was there to preach the gospel to us. He has always supported me and gave me counsel when I was down. Now, I have been more than 8 months drug-free. I feel like I have gained back my life. I am very grateful that I attended his gospel sharing session in the prison and he offered to help me after my release. He found me a job and a place to stay. Together with other ex-inmates we work in a car wash.

But there was still one painful memory I could not get over, which was the terrible memory of my father beating me up so badly. It hurt me so much. Why couldn’t my father love me, like other fathers love their children? I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to reconcile with my father, but the last time I checked, my family had already moved away and could not be located.

About 30% of prisoners are pledged guilty of substance abuse. Mental health problems can sometimes lead to alcohol or drug use, as some people with a mental health problem may misuse these substances as a form of self-medication. Mental health and substance use disorders share some underlying causes, including changes in brain composition, genetic vulnerabilities, and early exposure to stress or trauma. Children who experienced domestic violence are more prone to substance abuse. Once they are introduced to drugs it would be very hard to restore them back to health. Let us all pray for prisoners and drug addicts, that God may heal their addictions and rebuild their brokenness.

When I was in prison, you came to see me.’ – Matthew 25:36. Let us also pray for ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the prisoners which they needed the most.

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention, and learn what clear perception is. What I am commending to you is sound doctrine: do not discard my teaching.

2nd Step:


3rd Step: Act

Kempen Kasih


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. 

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord, may justice flow like a river

Reaching barren lands and sun scorched deserts

Where people feel forgotten and hopeless

Let your water of life

Comfort them

Where children lie abandoned or abused

Let your water of life

Protect them

Where communities suffer at the hands of prejudice

Let your water of life Shield them

Lord, we ask for a mighty downpour from Heaven

May your sons and daughters hear your voice

May we live as you lead us to live

Go as you bid us to go

Serve as you inspire us to serve

Give as you teach us to give

Until the earth is covered with the glory of God

As the waters cover the sea


Dear Father of all, Help us to see the world through your eyes, without dividing lines, To see just land and water, mountains, trees and skies. Help us to lay aside our class and skin, our background and race, To know our shared humanity, to see a brother or sister in every face. Help us to wear forgiveness, to lay down our pride and pain, To seek first to understand, Lord may peace and reconciliation reign. Help us to feel your compassion so we can freely forgive. May we weave new threads of grace and cause seeds of hope to live. Help us to play our own small part, with acts of kindness and of care. May we arise as your children and seek out what is just and fair. Cause us to make new bonds of trust with neighbours near and far, And so to fashion a world where peace comes to Earth in this hour.

Give Alms

Many prisoners are having skin problems. You can organise a herbal soap moulding project with the Penang Diocesan Prison ministry. You will make herbal soap to soothe their skin irritation. Members from the prison ministry can give a presentation to help church members to understand the struggle inside the prison. Please contact the Penang Diocesan Prison Ministry if you are interested in activities to help prisoners. Remember to pray for the conversion of prisoners.

Your parish can also consider sponsoring Easter or Christmas meals for the prisoners. For more information please contact the Penang Diocesan Prison Ministry to know more. Remember keep prisoners in your prayer, pray for their conversion and salvation.

The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Prisoners can only experience change if they hear the sharing of Gospel. However, many prisons are lacking faith sharers who are willing to bring Gospel into the prison. Consider joining the Penang Diocesan Prison Ministry, you will be trained to serve the prisoners in the prisons or rehab centres in your city and bring Jesus to the people who live in darkness.


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