“O God, thou hast taught me from my youth; and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come” (Psalm 71:17-18).
I came from a Taoist family. My father was stern whereas my mother was lenient. My father enrolled me in an English mission school – Presbyterian Boys’ School – where, at a tender young age, I came to know the Lord through learning about God’s love in John 3:16 and the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Incidentally, we had to recite these verses during each Friday chapel service, which was compulsory.
However, during the “Hippie Culture” in the early seventies, my life began to spiral downwards. Keeping long hair, partying and taking drugs were the “in thing” among the company I kept then. I got myself entangled with all these activities and, as the Bible says, “Destruction and misery are in their ways” (Romans 3:16), eventually the law caught up with me. Going in and out of prison / drug centre became a norm for me.
While in prison or drug centre, my mother never failed to visit me, be it rain or shine. On one such visit, a warden officer came up to me and gave me a tongue-lashing: “Look at your poor mother!” It was raining heavily that day and she had been caught in the rain. Her hair was wet and I could clearly see her grey white hair. It then dawned on me that she was getting old. The sight of my mother getting drenched really saddened my heart. I resolved within myself not to let her worry or suffer any more for my sake. That night, God brought my thoughts back to the words of John 3:16 which I learned during my school days. So I prayed and my heavy heart was lightened, knowing that Jesus Christ could help me.
Truly, God hears and answers prayers. In 1987, God led an old friend into my path. He brought me to Helping Hand. It was there that I experienced God’s grace, mercy, love and the joy of salvation! In 1990, through Helping Hand, I was able to study full-time at the Far Eastern Bible College, where the late Rev. Timothy Tow was the Principal then. Those were joyous years of my life, where I began to grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was at FEBC that I got to know Pastor Koshy, who was also a student then. It was also through Pastor Koshy that I subsequently got to know Phoebe, my wife.
Before graduating from FEBC, although I was given preaching assignments in Maranatha BP Church, I secretly longed to help those who were entrenched in drugs. My heart ached whenever I heard news of my friends going back to drugs. I longed to be involved in the Drug and Prison Ministry and prayed the Lord will open doors for me. Eventually a “door” was opened for me to serve in the Drug and Prison Ministry in Zion BP Church. At the same time, I continued to equip myself with God’s Word by studying at Biblical Graduate School of Theology. After completing my diploma with BGST, I left Zion to take up a similar role in another halfway house.
Alas, it was not easy serving in this ministry. Someone once described the Drug and Prison work as “The Loneliness Ministry”, because it bears the painful scars of discouragement, failures and setbacks. I became very weary and discouraged, and left the ministry after serving for about 4 years. After leaving God’s work, I worked as a real estate agent and later on helped out in manning my in-laws’ coffee shop. Sadly, I got lost in this earthly “wilderness”. Not only did I forget about the good Lord, I went back to my old habits, taking drugs. In April 2014, I was arrested and imprisoned, serving 8 months for drug offences. But the Lord did not forget me, nor did He give up on me. God works in mysterious ways. While in prison, I met Gethsemane BPC’s preachers, Pr Kelvin Lim and Pr Jeremiah Sim, who came to the prison to preach the Word. At that time, I told Pr Kelvin that I would come to see Pastor Koshy, and worship in Gethsemane BP Church after my release.
Though God sent people into my path to remind me of His unfailing love and faithfulness, I did not take heed. After my release from prison in 2015, I went on to become an Uber driver and did not attend any church. But God caused several incidents to bring me back to Himself, and led me to Gethsemane BPC. The first incident was in early 2017 while on duty as an Uber driver, when I picked up a passenger, Chris. We started a conversation and he told me that he was going to Gethsemane BPC. We talked a lot about the church and FEBC, and I also remembered asking him to send my regards to Pastor Koshy and to pray for me. (And thank God, he took my request seriously!)
Meanwhile, I did not repent of my wayward life, and continued in my stubbornness and negligence of God’s direction. So God allowed a rather serious incident to happen in my life so that I would turn towards Him. In July 2017, I was involved in an encounter where my rash act amounted to criminal intimidation. I was arrested and sent to IMH, and placed under observation. While in IMH, I met an inmate who had kept some tracts and books with him during visitation hours. I saw in his hand a song written by Pastor Koshy. (See, God points in the direction of Gethsemane BPC again!) After I was discharged from IMH, and while waiting for my trial, I was not allowed to go home. I had to look for alternate lodging. So God providentially led me to Pr Daniel Lim to seek refuge in The Gethsemane Care Ministry. As a consolation and confirmation, I even received a call from Pastor Koshy personally! He prayed for me over the phone and invited me to come to TGCM.
I thank God that He has led me to TGCM and to worship Him, together with His saints, in Gethsemane BPC. I thank God for many Gethsemaneans who had prayed incessantly for me, especially during my last ordeal with the court case. In March / April this year, while serving my 40 day-sentence in prison, God continued to remind me of His presence and the need to follow God’s will for my life. He has placed people there to remind me of what it means to be patient, to be humble, and not to be full of pride. The thoughts of Balaam and the donkey came into my mind. Balaam’s stubbornness caused God’s judgment to fall on him when God chose the donkey to speak to him. May I not persist in my folly like Balaam, but rather submit to God’s Word and humble myself “under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6). God is Sovereign. He is the Arbiter. He has the final say in all things.
My life has almost come full circle. Precious years had been wasted; may God help me in “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). I pray that I will walk close to God and serve Him faithfully, together with the brethren in Gethsemane BPC. Thank God for Pastor Koshy’s timely Bible study classes on the Book of Revelation. I am reminded that as Christians, there is no room for lethargy or half-heartedness (Revelation 3:16). However, we can rest assured that God will continually guide us, even unto death (Psalm 48:14). Truly, I can see God’s hand in my life. His unfailing love never ceases, His faithfulness never dies, His mercy never comes to an end, and His kindness is better than life. All glory be to God! Amen.