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God’s Leading in Conversion, Family & Ministries

22 July 2008

My Conversion & Christian Service                                                        

 

lost in the wilderness

During the first 22 years of my life, I was lost in the wilderness. I grew up in a large, poor family in Singapore with six elder sisters. My father tried many times to have a boy because having a son is so important to a Chinese family to ensure that the family name is carried into the next generation. My mother died when I was three; I do not have even a faint recollection of her.

There was much bitterness in my heart because my father’s meager salary was sufficient only to provide basic needs, and he often had to collect fish bones discarded by restaurants so that we could supplement our diet. I remember enjoying sweet, hot soup boiled from fish bones, and my sisters and I relished sucking every remnant of meat from the bones.

I envied the rich and famous, and my ambition was to be rich and successful and never to allow my family to suffer the indignity of being poor. Once, when it was thought I had appendicitis, I had to wait in agony for what seemed like eternity, squatting by the side of the dusty road in severe pain, for a public bus to take me to the hospital because we could not afford a taxi. The irony was that the pain was only a severe stomachache due to constipation, and my night’s stay in the hospital wasted money we could ill afford to lose. That incident left an indelible mark on me and still brings tears to my eyes. I questioned the injustices of life: why some were born into rich families while a majority of others suffered poverty and lived in squalor–or worse, were born in a country torn by war or civil strife.

For many years, I searched for the meaning of life. I was like driftwood floating on a restless sea, bobbing up and down without purpose or direction, and carried by strong relentless currents. I was plagued by the terror of death and sickness, the fear of not knowing what the future held. A recurring nightmare was that I would wake up one morning regretting that I had wasted my life—or that I would wake up in hell.

I was a good student and was told that if I excelled in my studies, it would be my passport to success and riches. I did do well in school, being first in my primary school at 12 years of age and one of the top three graduates in my secondary school.  I also did relatively well at the university. Yet I had no peace of heart. As I grew to maturity, I realised that a life lived for wealth seemed futile, especially when it came at the expense of integrity, family, friendships, and health. I wondered if life was merely meaningless chance, due only to freak accidental collisions that had occurred over millions of years, as evolutionists would have us believe.

When I was in junior college, I read philosopher Bertrand Russell’s essay “Why I am not a Christian”. I was not persuaded by his arguments. If anything, the essay drove me to find answers from religion. But the plethora of convoluted human philosophies and religions confused me to such a degree that I almost gave up.

For escape, I immersed myself in entertainment.  I became addicted to sentimental popular music, devoured bestselling novels, and watched football games and TV soap operas.  I even joined friends in lounges, pubs, and discos. Those activities gave me only fleeting moments of happiness.  After each escapist activity, I felt worse than before. Just when I thought I was nearer to achieving happiness, I discovered that such happiness was a mirage. I felt terribly empty and so alone, and I became more pessimistic, depressed, and withdrawn.

Conscious of a restless heart, a deep void in my soul that could not be filled by worldly entertainment and with an increasing inner desperation to find relief and meaning in life, I cried out in panic and exasperation, “Where are you God—if there is a God?” At the end of the first year of my undergraduate real estate course I was pursuing at the National University of Singapore, I even contemplated suicide. I had done poorly on a computer science paper, and I left the exam convinced that I was going to fail.  I thought suicide would be preferable to the indignity of failure, of others laughing at me. Then I remembered my father’s love and my sisters’ sacrifice and love in rearing me. Those reminiscences, plus my cowardice, stopped me from acting on suicidal thoughts. I decided to face reality rather than run away from it. I determined to find the meaning of life.

My fourth sister had become a Christian several years earlier, but my pride prevented me from asking her about her religion. God led me to Him in another way. During my second year at the university, a Christian classmate shared the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ with me during an evangelistic Bible study. Through reading the Bible, I saw clearly my own pride, selfishness, self-centredness, and greed, which the Bible calls sin.

I had never heard of the concept of sin before, although I had had my fair share of encounters with wicked people. For the first time, I saw that the sufferings and injustices of this world exist because of the sins of men, and I realized why a just and holy God had to send His only begotten Son to earth to die and pay the penalty of our sins to redeem us.

In the book of Ecclesiastes I discovered the precious words, “vanity of vanities, all [of earthly life under the sun, without Christ] is vanity”. Those words exactly echoed my sentiments about the futility of life without a proper relationship to God and they piqued my curiosity to discover more Bible truths.

Mark 8:36 gripped me: “For what shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Although I had been a good student, I was miserable. What would be the point of having all the wealth of the world but not the joy, peace and happiness that only God can give? Howard Hughes, the reclusive billionaire, had died depressed and mentally deranged in a multi-million dollar mansion. Through studying the Bible, God revealed my sins, and I saw my need of a Saviour. I acknowledged God as my Creator and that He knew me better than I knew myself. I confessed my sins to Him and repented of them.

I was amazed and greatly humbled that a holy God would send His Son Jesus to die for a sinner like me. John 3:16 became so precious. When I had doubts that God could really love me, I remembered the words of Jesus Christ, “Come unto me, all those who are weary and heavy laden with burdens, and I will give you rest.” Yes, I was weary, burdened and tired of running away, weary of endless searching for activities to fill the void in my heart. I put my trust in Jesus Christ and His precious blood alone, and I was gloriously saved by the grace and mercy of God on 4 September 1986. All my sins were washed away in the blood of Jesus. I was like the pilgrim in John Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress, when he knelt at the Cross and trusted wholly in the finished work of Christ. His heavy burdens fell from him, he received immediate relief, and joy flooded his soul. Similarly, I was immediately relieved of the immense burden of guilt I had been carrying for decades. I was forgiven! I was freed from the bondage of sin, freed from the clutches of Satan! I have never felt so free and so loved, indeed overwhelmed with God’s love. I cried tears of joy as I finally came to that glorious realization that after 22 years of mindless searching and manic dashing about in the wilderness of the world that God the Creator of the world and of mankind loved and cared for me. 

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,

and wondered how He could love me, a sinner condemned unclean.

 How marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be.

How marvelous, How wonderful is my Saviour’s love to me” Charles H. Gabriel (1856-1932)

 

The words of this beloved hymn summed up my sense of wonder and amazement. Overflowing with praises. I cried out to the LORD and He heard me out of His holy hill. He is a loving, merciful, compassionate, kind, long-suffering, patient, all-knowing, all-wise, all sufficient God who does the impossible. I bow before Him, humbled that He should love such a great sinner. It was only by His grace—undeserved favour—that He saved me.

 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold,all things are become new.” 2 Cor 5:17

I attended a gospel-preaching church for two years, but I became increasingly uncomfortable with its practice of tongues speaking. When church leaders asked me to lead worship services, I realized I would have to leave that church and the friends I had made there. In 1988, Wendy, a university classmate, invited me to attend Life B-P Church. Initially, I found it difficult to adjust to the conservative style of worship, but I eventually settled into Life Church because of good fellowship in the Choir and the Young Adults Fellowship (YAF) and because of its strong teaching ministries in the Sunday School and in night classes. I grew in the faith, learning how to study and lead Bible studies.

Blessings of Christian Family 

In the providence of God, Wendy and I were married in 1991, and I thank God for the wonderful loving helpmeet He has so graciously provided. Wendy has been very supportive and encouraging, a pillar of strength through my ups and downs. God has blessed us with two boys, John and Marc, now 14 and 13 years old, respectively.

God’s grace was wondrously displayed during John’s premature birth in February 1994, an event that severely tested our faith. After six months of pregnancy, Wendy had early contractions. She was immediately hospitalized with complete bed-rest while doctors tried to stop them. They could only slow the process, not prevent the premature birth. John was born after six-and-a-half months in the womb and weighed only 1.2 kg. He was rushed into intensive care in an incubator with tubes inserted all over his body. The doctor who delivered John told us that he might stop breathing, die from a collapsed lung, become blind, or suffer some other form of disability common to premature babies. We surrendered entirely to the Lord, pleading for His mercy and compassion upon this child, trusting God for His guidance and leading.

We named our son John, because the name means “God is gracious.” It was difficult to see God’s love during those trying times, yet the Bible tells us that “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. We and other church members could only pray for God’s mercy on our first child. “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” John did stop breathing several times during his 21-days of intensive care and then spent two months in the hospital until he weighed 2.2kg. We thank God for the excellent round-the-clock care provided by doctors and nurses at Singapore General Hospital.

Once at home, John’s weight doubled within a month. John not only did not suffer from any disability but actually showed promise of unusual intelligence and musical gifts. At two years, John weighed 20 kg, in the 99th percentile of infants in his cohort. Today John serves as pianist in the Chinese service, teen fellowship, and junior worship service, using his musical skills to serve the Lord who saved him and gave him his good health and musical abilities. He topped the ABRSM piano exams for grades 7 & 8, and the grade 7 cello exam in Singapore. When I think about John today, I cannot stop smiling because I remember how good God has been. His lovingkindness, mercies, compassion and grace are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness towards His children (Lam 3:22-23).

Our second son Marc’s arrival was less eventful. Although Wendy’s bleeding throughout her second pregnancy gave us cause for concern that Marc might also be born prematurely, Marc actually arrived one day late.

Wendy and I have spared no efforts to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, emphasizing to them God’s mercy and love, His salvation and grace. Although we have experienced many moments of failure in parenting, we remember our vows to God at their baptism, that we will try our best to follow God’s commandments to be godly parents, to train them in the way that they should go so that when they are old, they will not depart from God’s commandments. Despite our stressful and demanding careers, we patiently trained and disciplined our children, not sparing the rod. Family worship, prayer, Bible reading, singing, and scripture memorization, were all used to strengthen our faith and help us grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.

Service in Church

During the past 20 years, God has given me opportunities to serve in the choir and YAF, on various subcommittees, on the Executive Committee, and for short stints, as teacher in the Sunday School. In 2002, I answered the call to serve as a deacon, and I’m now in my seventh year (third term) in the Session.  I enjoy opportunities to lead worship services, to minister the Word in the Filipina & Thai services, YF, LTF, YAF, NBC, etc. When time permits, my wife and I also do visitation to encourage our brothers in the faith. Several years ago, the Lord moved a few men and me to start a men’s Bible study group for the purpose of discipling men to exercise spiritual leadership at church and at home. Obviously men have to first learn the Word themselves before they can obey it and teach it to their wives and children. I have profited from the Word myself, and I have also been encouraged by the spiritual growth I have observed in the men of this group. I have also had the privilege of serving as advisor to the Youth Fellowship since mid-2007 and am especially heartened and encouraged by the godly example of the young people in prayer and evangelism.

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One comment

  1. Hello, I’m a christian, worshiping in Singapore.

    I’m blessed by your testimony, seeing how the Lord has led you and transform your life. Life BP seem to be a wonderful church, grounded in God’s word, with the great tradition of the reformed faith.

    Blessing,
    John Quik



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