KOTA KINABALU – The middle-aged man looked messy perhaps for not having bathed for a few days. His clothes were dirty and worn out. His eyes went wild when he saw, out of nowhere, a group of men walking toward him. He stood up, worried…for fear of getting caught. But, when a box of KFC and a drink were handed to him by the unknown group of men, he started shedding tears.
After accepting the food, the man being identified as a homeless person, made the sign of the cross. He is one of the many homeless people believed to stay around Kota Kinabalu city. He told them that he is from Sipitang and that he lives like that because of family problems back home.
The food distribution was one of the programs arranged during the Kota Kinabalu Christmas Celebration 2018 (KKCC 2018) held at Padang Merdeka.
Archbishop John Wong was also involved in the group distributing food to 80 homeless people targeted by the Christmas event. Also present were pastors of churches from Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) and Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) Mayor, Datuk Yeoh Boon Hai.
The issue of homeless people in KK city is not a big social problem, nevertheless each of them has the right to be given care so that they are not mistreated. Resonating closely with the theme of this year’s celebration “God’s Blessings of Life”, food was given away regardless of colour, race and religion.
“God has blessed us with a gift of life and it is appropriate for us to be thankful to Him and love Him with all our heart, soul and mind. We must be grateful for life and use it to love and help those who are in need regardless of race, religion, culture, language and where they come from,” SCC President, Bishop Melter Jiki Tais said in his opening speech.
Co-organizing chairman, Mandy Nancy Joe said, this year’s theme is calling everyone to love one another, to be united, respect each other and no one should go to sleep with an empty stomach. She added that we could reflect Christmas with 2 Cor 9:8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
The KKCC 2018 was a four-day celebration starting Dec 11. Co-organized by Sabah Council of Churches and KK City Hall, this year’s colourful yuletide season celebration was the 14th edition since its inception. Programs lined up included Christmas carols, presents give-away to children, charity donation drive, and more than 200 vendors selling different types of food, drinks and other goodies.
Permanent consultant to the organizing team, Neil Mah said, since its first celebration in 2005, programs are improved every year and new activities introduced to be better enjoyed by KK city dwellers. This annual event is not only awaited by the locals, but has since become a major tourist attraction.
Chief Minister, Datuk Shafie Apdal, launched the event and expressed his joy to be with the citizens of different races and religions gathered at the celebration.
He said, among many factors that make Sabah the best model state in Malaysia, despite its diversified race culture and creed, is that each segment is able to celebrate each other’s festive season with a sense of respect and tolerance.
He wants all races in Sabah to continue to live this noble spirit to ensure peace and prosperity in the State.
The state government has allocated RM200,000 to organize KKCC 2018. The main organizer for this year was Basel Christian Church of Malaysia, assisted by Sabah Evangelical Mission and Grace Chapel. The organizing of KKCC falls by rotation on churches under the SCC. Estimated visitors to Padang Merdeka this year were 30,000. – JJ/SOCCOM