Christmas each year marked my annual visit to church with my family. My parents had come to know Jesus through their friends, and my brother and sister-in law were also Christians. I remained the only one who refused to believe in the Christian God.
I used to think that Christians were hypocrites, due to my assumption that they were supposed to be holy and good. The Christians I had encountered did not act the way I expected them to, and this put me off believing in the faith.
As the years passed, I came to believe that there was a god, but ultimately, all religions were the same and led to the same god. I did not see a need to learn anything more.
This changed when my business partner Kelvin, a Christian, suffered a massive heart attack in December 2016. While out for work one afternoon, Kelvin’s heart stopped unexpectedly. As I was with him, I performed CPR. The ambulance arrived soon after to take him to the hospital. At this point, his heart had stopped beating for more than 18 minutes.
At the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department, three doctors told us that he was unlikely to pull through. Kelvin’s heart stopped for the second time in the A&E for about ten minutes. Due to the prolonged period of his heart stopping and blockages in his coronary arteries, there was a high possibility of serious organ damage, and death.
Later that day, I got a call from the police, asking if they could record a statement from me. Furthermore, in the event that Kelvin passed away, I would have to assist in a police investigation. This was when reality hit me – Kelvin was lying on his death bed. As an engineer who thought about things very logically, I felt that there now seemed to be no logical way out of this, since the medical experts who could help Kelvin had already passed a negative judgement on his situation. At a loss, I remembered praying and asking God for help, making a promise that, “if it is not his time and if You let him return back to life, I will make an effort to get to know You.”
Against all odds, Kelvin woke up! Even more amazing was the fact that he did not have any loss of memory, serious organ damage, or further injuries. Shortly after regaining consciousness, Kelvin was transferred from the ICU to a standard ward. Despite being admitted as the person with the worst condition, Kelvin was the first to be discharged! Including the time he spent in the ICU, all this happened within just a week!
During Kelvin’s stay in the hospital and his recovery afterwards, I saw many extraordinary events take place. Kelvin’s heart regained functionality, which was unusual for someone in his condition. He was also able to have his three follow-up operations involving the placing of seven stents in his heart done successfully by the same doctor, without having to do an additional heart bypass. In his class of ward, doctors were usually randomly assigned. Yet somehow, it was that same doctor who performed all of his follow-up operations. Things also worked out financially in terms of his insurance coverage. Because of pre-existing conditions, Kelvin was precluded from any insurance claims. Miraculously, he received a full claim, an occurrence which even his friends in the insurance industry could not comprehend. Kelvin told me that he had been praying faithfully and trusting God the whole time.
Having seen so many miracles, I knew I had to honour my promise to really get to know God. I realised that God can show you miracles, but you can choose over and over not to believe in them and dismiss them as mere coincidences. How many times would I need to go through this cycle before I believed? Medical science could not explain many of the things I had seen – only God could be the answer!
I decided that I wanted to visit Kelvin’s home church – Barker Road Methodist Church (BRMC). It was far from my home, and at first, I dreaded going there. I had been hoping that the sermons would speak to me, but nothing really struck me. When I heard about Alpha, I immediately signed up together with my wife Jacqueline. I wanted a shortcut to know more about God – and I was attracted by how sequential and systematic Alpha was.
BRMC held its Alpha sessions on Saturdays. My first impression upon attending Alpha was, “how come these people are free on a Saturday? Are they paid? Are they full-time church staff?” When I found out that they were volunteers who made time for Alpha each week, I was surprised. It made me wonder why they would choose to spend their Saturdays like this.
Throughout my time in Alpha, I felt the sincerity of each of the hosts and helpers. I had many questions for them, mainly focused on the issue of justice. They provided us with a neutral environment to explore more about the faith, without being aggressive or “preachy”. They also suggested ways I could find out more through books I could read, and were also open in sharing how they became Christians through their own encounters with God.
As the weeks went by, Alpha helped me to think through many of the questions I had – such as: What is my purpose in life? and How do I talk to God? The session on prayer made me think about the Holy Spirit. If having the Holy Spirit would help me talk to God better, then I should be open to knowing more!
I remember feeling nervous during the Alpha Weekend Away, where we learnt about the Holy Spirit. During the sessions, we learned that the presence of the Holy Spirit may cause us to cry, but in my heart, I told myself: I will NOT cry! I did not want to be so paiseh (embarrass myself), especially in front of so many people. During the ministry time, the ladies beside me started to cry openly. However, I tried my hardest to hold back my tears.
When one of the group leaders asked how he could pray for me, I said: I don’t know. Suddenly, I felt a warm feeling inside me, and I found myself telling him to pray to Abba, and that I want to go home. My best efforts to control my emotions were not enough to stop my tears. It was 1 April 2017, and on that day I committed my life to the Lord.
While Jacqueline did not have such an encounter then, she was greatly impacted by reading materials given to her by a friend from Alpha. On Easter Sunday about two weeks later, she too welcomed Jesus into her life!
My family and I began to attend church services together at BRMC – something my children were very happy about! I also signed up for Christian courses such as Bible Study Fellowship. These communities from God really helped us in our walk as young believers. At home, we also spent time doing weekly family devotions together. It’s not always us parents leading this precious family time – sometimes the kids have stories and lessons from Sunday School that we can learn from too!
After worshipping at BRMC for a few months, we signed up for our church’s baptism course. This course ran over three months, preparing us for the big day. Finally, on 28 July 2018, my family and I were baptised!
I also began to serve at Alpha. I was initially afraid about serving, worried that I wouldn’t know what to say with my very limited knowledge of the Bible. But I realised I could relate to seekers of the faith, as it wasn’t that long ago that I had been asking the same questions.
In the past, I questioned if God was truly just. Now, I anchor myself on God’s love and sovereignty – accepting and trusting in His salvation plan. I used to pray with the expectation that God would fulfil my wishes like a genie, but now I understand and accept that I may not get what I ask for. Today, I live my life accepting that everything that happens in our lives has a reason and a purpose – under God’s control and will. This gives me the peace to respond to each situation with His love.