Written by Rajakrishnan
I was born on September 11, 1950, into a Hindu family of 5. I had an older brother (who had passed away) and a younger sister. As I look back over the 66 years of my life, I acknowledge that though I had fallen into sin, God, through His providential care, has brought me back to Him.
I attended two schools when I was young – the now-defunct West Hill Primary School, and a Tamil Methodist mission school. It was in the mission school where I first heard of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. However, I brushed aside the Gospel. Life was not smooth-sailing as a child. My parents were alcohol-addicts, and the constant strife and arguments at home prevented me from focusing on my studies. Such experiences were so traumatising and distracting that when I was in primary 5, I started losing interest in studying and ultimately, I failed my PSLE exam.
Because of my family’s difficult situation, I joined a band of Indian “brothers” at the age of 12. I was the youngest among them and so I was made the “servant-boy” among them, buying beer and cigarettes for them and earning pocket money through the commission they gave. I grew up in Naval Base, a fenced-up community which was still under the British rule at that time (until 31st December 1969). I had two identification cards: the Singaporean IC and the British Subject card. As Singapore’s police had no power within Naval Base, the restrictions of Singapore law hardly applied in Naval Base. A young, unsupervised boy (like myself) could easily buy cigarettes and beer. Moreover, if you return an empty beer bottle, the shop owner would give you 10 cents. That gave rise to the start of my alcohol addiction, as I would taste of whatever remaining beer left in the bottles.
My cigarette addiction followed soon after. At night I would take my dad’s ashtray, pick on the small buds, and tried smoking on them. By the time I was 16, marijuana became part of my life too!
Without school, my daily life was filled with the constant playing of football. There was an inter-league set up by the British in Naval Base. (Incidentally, it was in this league that several of our ex-national players, such as V Sundramoorthy, Quah Kim Song and M Kumar, had their formative training.) Unfortunately, other than football, my vices such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse continued.
First and Second Arrest
After the British withdrawal from Singapore, my “band of brothers” and I moved into a kampong house in Sembawang, where I was introduced to heroin. In 1977, I was arrested by CNB for consumption of drugs and sentenced to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC) for 6 months. After my first release in 1978, I fell back into drugs again, and was sent back to the DRC for another year. It was during this time in 1979 that I accepted the Lord through a Malayalee pastor from Sri Lanka. Upon my release in October that same year, I attended his Pentecostal Evangelical Church.
In 1982, I married a sister-in-Christ from that same church, and God blessed us with a son. We grew well together as a family. I had a humble job as a factory security guard in Kranji and was actively involved in church activities. However, tragedy struck in 1993, when my son was diagnosed with blood cancer (which the doctor said was exacerbated by the high “red-meat” content of my son’s diet). When he passed away 3 months later in 1994, I blamed my wife for feeding our son with red meat and thus “killing” him. Because of my constant quarrelling with my wife, and the pain of having lost my son, I turned to smoking and slowing slipped back into my old liquor habits. Things grew worse: we could no longer live together peaceably and we divorced soon after!
With this separation, I went straight back to heroin addiction again. In 1997, I was caught in one of CNB’s raids and was sent back to the DRC. After 20 years of a clean record, I returned to my old habits. I realised that I was still capable of falling anytime. I really need the grace of God daily to keep me. If I don’t stay close to God, I will fall. If I don’t allow God’s Word to remind me that such ways are wrong, I will forget and sin again.
Stay at “Halfway-Houses”
When I was released in 2001, I was homeless and stayed in a lodging house in Serangoon. One day, I met an old friend, who introduced me to “The Helping Hand” in 2003. From 2003 to 2012, for various reasons regarding leadership and administration, I moved from “The Helping Hand” to other “halfway-houses” and finally back to “The Helping Hand”. In 2012, I decided to leave, and I worked in a 5-star hotel in Orchard as a kitchen steward.
Unfortunately, without proper spiritual supervision, I fell again! The leftover beer in the hotel every night became a great source of temptation, not helped at all by the friendly bartender. There began another round of alcohol and smoking addictions. Tired of my sinful life, I called a friend from “The Helping Hand” in 2014, and told him I needed a safe, Christian environment where I will be counselled with God’s Word daily. To my surprise, instead of welcoming me back to “The Helping Hand”, he recommended The Gethsemane Care Ministry (TGCM), a place known for the strong preaching of God’s Word.
Spiritual Blessings of The Gethsemane Care Ministry
My God is One who directs my steps. Stepping into TGCM premises in September 2014 was one of them. I was so delighted to have spent these past 2 years with TGCM. During these 2 years, I have learnt that money and my physical desires are not important to me. Instead, my spiritual feeding is of utmost importance. I am a weak person – I need counselling and spiritual encouragement daily; I need to be rebuked to see the sinfulness of my sin. It is here at TGCM that I receive these, and more.
Firstly, I am so blessed with the daily preaching of God’s Word here. Nothing is more important than to be reminded and convicted of my sins, and to seek God for help in my life. Moreover, there are so many activities which I can participate in: Sunday worship and Bible study, Tuesday night prayer meeting and Wednesday Gethsemane Bible Institute (GBI) classes. (By the way, my sister was so surprised when I got 78/100 for my GBI Exam, for she had said that in schools, I could not even get 40!) The truth is, God gives grace and rewards the hard work that I’ve put in to study. Now, I study the eternal wisdom of God, not the wisdom of the world, and so I am delighted to do well in the GBI exams. As the saying goes, “An empty mind is the devil’s workshop”, I am glad that the devotions every morning also help keep my spiritual life in check. This is unlike in other “halfway-houses” I’ve been too, where there is little preaching, if any.
Secondly, the brotherly love I have experienced here is encouraging. Whenever I don’t understand my GBI notes, the brothers will explain them to me. While vulgarities and unrefined speech are prevalent in other “halfway-houses”, speech here is pleasing to God and spoken with love. Also, Ah Huat is such a great cook! He makes good food for us, especially for me since I have some dietary restrictions due to health conditions.
Thirdly, there is no tolerance of sin here, which makes for good spiritual discipline. TGCM abides by a strict system. We need such restrictions placed upon us, that we may be accountable unto God and men. Such discipline is hard to come by nowadays. Even leaders of other “halfway-houses” quietly smoke and engage in unwholesome habits. I am glad that TGCM upholds holy living above everything else.
Fourthly, our pastor is a most unique and caring pastor of wonderful abilities. I tell others that our pastor teaches like a professor! His teaching is beautiful! Frankly, I have been to all sorts of churches in my life – Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran, you name it – but Pastor Koshy’s preaching really speaks to me like no other.
My Earnest Prayer
This is my second year in TGCM and I want to stay here and serve the Lord. I am blessed so much everyday with the preaching here. I treat TGCM as if it is my own house. I take care of it because I know it is given by God. It is my prayer that God will sustain and provide for this ministry. God is doing great things in my life through this ministry. The truth is, temptations still come to me – recently, I’ve had offers to work for $11/hr; but I quickly changed my phone number so that the boss can’t contact me! I do not want to fall back to drugs, drinking and sin. TGCM has been my shelter from the vices of this world. It is okay if we have to downsize in the future. But I pray earnestly that the Lord will sustain this ministry, for as long as the ministry continues, many people, including myself, will be blessed.