A filial daughter, Elly wanted to continue her family traditions of ancestral worship. She shares how God used multiple circumstances and people to show her how to put her faith and trust in Him.
As a child, I followed my parents to the temple. I participated in ancestral worship, although these rituals did not mean anything to me. At times, I even questioned if god existed. Even when my three sisters became Christians, I resisted their efforts to reach out to me. As the eldest child, I felt a strong sense of filial piety; the responsibility to obey my parents and to continue our family traditions of ancestral worship.
Despite this, my sister Lilian continued to invite me to Alpha each year. For three years in a row, I humoured her by attending the introductory dinner, but skipped the sessions after. When she invited me for the fourth time, I declined her invitation.
Though I had not acknowledged God throughout my working years, I somehow began to believe in the existence of a higher being. But my independent streak kept me from God, as relying on myself was the norm.
In 2006, while chatting with my colleagues over a coffee break, I asked why the Jews and the Arabs were constantly fighting. This curiosity had been sparked by newspaper headlines. My Christian colleague, Peter, shared about the history of the Jews and explained the conflict to me. He recommended “The Six Day War”, a book detailing the historical events of the conflict and Jewish independence. Intrigued, I purchased the book. Once I started, I could not put it down! Peter also suggested other books for me to read.
Around the time I began reading these books, my friend Henrietta wanted to bring her father to a healing service at Lighthouse Evangelism Woodlands. I lived nearby, but Henrietta did not. I offered to drive them to and from the service in their car, as Woodlands seemed like ‘outer space’ to them. I would then return home by taxi or bus. I never felt that I was doing anything out of the ordinary. We had already been going out every Saturday for dinner and coffee; the only difference now was the venue.
This continued for a few months. Though initially it did not feel like a hassle, I started to question this routine. By the third month, I asked myself whether I should continue. One Saturday, before going to church, I remembered thinking to myself, “Shouldn’t they know how to make their way there and back on their own by now?” Furthermore, in all these months accompanying them, I did not personally believe in healing. I was only there for my friend. Finally, I thought to myself: “I think I have done enough.”
Strangely, that night the pastor said something which I felt addressed my unhappiness. He said, “You are not here just because of a friend. You are not here because you are obliged to be here, you are here because God has marked you in His calendar to be here.”
This message struck me deeply, and opened my ears to listen. From then on, I continued going to church without grumbling.
Another night, a guest pastor gave an altar call by asking what I thought were general questions – “Do you want peace in your life? Do you want to be blessed at work?”. With my eyes closed, I raised my hand in response. When I opened my eyes, a lady was beside me. She led me to the front to say a prayer to accept Jesus.
Even though I went up willingly, I felt so cheated! I felt like I had been conned into accepting a faith I did not fully understand.
I returned home, filled with annoyance and guilt that I may have offended God with my reaction. I asked Lilian when the next run of Alpha was. To my surprise, she told me that she had already placed the registration form for an upcoming Alpha run on my bedside table! After years of patience, her efforts finally paid off. She did not even have to invite me to this Alpha run – God did!
Like a model student, I never missed a single Alpha session and would often sit at the front of the room! At Queenstown Baptist Church, the people serving at Alpha were very welcoming, friendly, and always happy to attend to our needs. I felt a sense of belonging among everyone there. Their hospitality even extended to preparing supper and carpooling for us after each session. The pastor in charge would take the train home with me and I would ask her more questions along the way!
My true conversion happened when I understood what Christianity was and experienced God’s presence in my life. Attending the healing service at Lighthouse Evangelism and going to Alpha sessions complemented one another, helping me to grow in my faith.
However, even as I learnt more about the Christian faith, I could not bring myself to fully accept it. I feared how my parents would react.
This struggle was resolved when Lilian shared Acts 16:31 with me. It says:
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.”
These words gave me assurance, and I was able to sincerely pray the sinner’s prayer again, this time fully putting my trust in God.
After my parents sold their flat, we moved into a new apartment and I saw myself as the head of the household. If I had not been a Christian, I would not have believed that my family could be saved as it was said in Acts 16:31. I was soon to be a witness to this – the salvation of my father in 2008.
My dad was suffering from cancer and a kidney disease. Due to his weakened condition, he was eventually unable to receive dialysis and his organs began to fail.
Every night, my sisters and I would gather to pray. One of my most fervent prayers was “God, please do not take dad away before he says yes to You.”
One Saturday evening, we were seated around our father’s bed, reading the Psalms to him. As we huddled together, my 2-year-old niece Sophie came to sit on my lap. She then pointed to and asked for a book on the shelf. The book was the manga version of the Gospel of Matthew. When Sophie flipped the book open, she pointed to a picture of the angel Gabriel and asked, “Who is this?” I answered that it was the angel Gabriel. Sophie then walked away quietly. A while later, she came back, this time sitting on her mother Lilian’s lap as she prepared to close in prayer.
Overcome by emotion, Lilian could not pray. Sophie broke the silence by pointing to our father and asking, “What is his name?” Lilian answered, “Gong Gong’s name is Goh Kuan Chua”. Suddenly, Sophie said calmly, “Goh Kuan Chua will be with Jesus”. This helped Lillian to begin praying!
Caught off guard, we were not sure what to make of this. We still did not quite believe that our father would accept Jesus into his life. So we asked him if he would like to believe and say the sinner’s prayer with us. To our surprise, he motioned for us to help him sit up, and he bent his body forward to adopt a specific posture of prayer! It was in this way that we said the sinner’s prayer together. We knew that our father was saved!
After this, my sisters and I went into another room together with the children to pray for assurance. I have never understood how children find the words to pray – I believe that God uses children to speak to us.
That night, I took care of my father until 5am, before my mother came to take over. My mother had been struggling in communicating with my father while seeing him in his current state of health. However, she was able to speak openly with him that morning, and was comforted from finding closure with him.
My dad passed away around 9am. We usually did not meet before going to church, but that morning all my siblings were gathered around him, just before Jesus took him home.
There were tears, but no fears about his salvation. Even in our grief, we found assurance. To us, his death was an assurance of our faith. We were grateful that God had graciously answered our prayer of not taking our father away before he believed. We had been praying for weeks, and he had passed away only hours after his “Yes” to God. I had only been a believer for about two years at the time, and I deeply believe that this would not have been possible if I was not a Christian.
Today, I serve as Head of Evangelism, and the Alpha Coordinator at Queenstown Baptist Church. I have been serving with Alpha since 2007! Even before I took on a leadership role, I pioneered a post-Alpha group. This group helps new friends assimilate into church community through fellowship and learning about the Bible.
My prayer is this – that God will continue to grant me the joy of serving! Even though I may be very occupied with activities of the day, I am grateful, knowing that the work I do is all for His glory. Many groups of people came together to lead me to God; it was through no desire of my own. I know that it was God who truly paved the way for me to know Him!