Written by Jimmy Tan
I arrived at The Gethsemane Care Ministry (TGCM) in May 2011, as a 50-year-old broken man seeking shelter and God to restore my life. Being a divorcee and an ex-offender with a lot of emotional baggage and weighed down by besetting problems and unresolved issues, I was also homeless and jobless. All my relatives and friends considered me a lost cause and found it difficult to continue to help me as I still lived a wayward life. But God had not forsaken me. Praise the Lord for Sister Jessie Ng who recommended me to TGCM where, under a Christian environment, I have learnt not only to fight temptations, but also am learning more about God and how to walk close with Him.
At TGCM I had to first undergo a 6-month programme of disciplined living, which also entails Bible studies at the Far Eastern Bible College’s night classes. On completion of this programme in Nov 2011, I was accepted as a TGCM resident.
However, on my day off on 25th Dec 2011 after church service, I met up with an old friend. We laughed and joked about our past, and soon succumbed to smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and even consuming codeine cough syrup for more kicks. That night, I returned to TGCM intoxicated, and was caught out and tested positive for drug abuse. I was duly reprimanded and “re-programmed” for another 6 months. Remorseful and ashamed of myself, I sought God for forgiveness. This episode disappointed everyone who had been helping me. And so I tried once again and harder to do what is right and acceptable to God.
I realized I need to grow spiritually, so I began to spend more time studying the Bible and reading Christian books, as well as attending FEBC evening basic theology courses. I reminded myself of Apostle Paul’s urging: to put off my old self and to put on the new man in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:20–24). Through these means of grace, I now understand that God’s Word can change lives. I have seen marvellous testimonies of God’s transformational work in some of my fellow-TGCM brothers’ lives, especially those who remain faithful and are still serving Him full-time after many years. It gave me great encouragement that God has chosen the weak, the insignificant and the humble to show forth His praise.
I am indebted to the Lord for these past 3 years in TGCM, which had not only allowed me to attend the FEBC night classes, but also given me blessed opportunities to participate in the Bible Witness retreats and our church camps. Briefly, the following are what I have learnt:
The 6th Bible Witness Retreat 2012 – “Christians as Overcomers” – taught me to consistently study God’s Word; daily seek and draw close to God; apply His Word to thwart worldly temptations; and become an overcomer in Christ Jesus. The 7th Bible Witness Retreat 2013 – “Divine Conquest of a Defiant Heart” – taught me the need to be magnanimous to others.
Undeniably, my walk with God has its fair share of temptations and trials, not to mention the inevitable friction involved in responsible communal living and relationship issues with people. God has taught me to listen more and talk less; speak slower and think longer; feel and care for others; consult with seniors and uplift others; and to give and give some more. All these learning experiences are part and parcel of my Christian journey of faith. And I thank God for moulding me to be patient by waiting on the Lord for renewal of our strength (Isaiah 40:31) and trusting Him to direct my life by trusting the Lord and leaning not on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). I also thank God for bringing fellow brethren to assist, guide and encourage me to persevere in my Christian living. Finally, to serve the Lord, I must not be guileful, have clean hands and pure motive, not be selfish and be willing to love people.
God is most worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. His providence and faithfulness have sustained me and restored me physically and spiritually. Admittedly, I am very much still a “work-in-progress”. My Christian journey has been hard and rough. Though unresolved anxieties caused by emotional, physical and financial setbacks may arise, I can face them now with God’s peace in my heart. I will pray and worship and trust Him. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Amen.