Very often we hear Christians testify that they have been touched by the Lord and their lives changed. Just what does it mean to be touched by the Lord? I’d like to share with you my personal experience of that wonderful blessing as the Lord leads me to speak.
I have been associated with the Wesley Methodist Church, Klang for some 50 years now, since 1957 when I first joined the Boys’ Brigade. At that time, I was not a baptized Christian due to family objection. Most of us Chinese come from Buddhist backgrounds passed down from the day our forefathers came to this country from China. My family is no different from any other average Chinese family. My mother was faithful in her belief based on the teachings of Buddha. She practiced chanting every morning and I still remember the time when at a young age, I was instructed to chant as well. She observed meat abstinence on certain days based on the Chinese calendar. This same religious practice was carried out by my grandmother, uncles and aunties. So with that family religious background, there was no way that I could get baptized even though I completed the required instructions for baptism in church in the late ‘50s.
My hear was with the church and I continued being active in the Boys’m Brigade after my schooldays, serving initially as a Warrant Officer and later as Acting Captain in the early ‘70s. I still could not think of baptism no matter how much I wanted it. Being a young bachelor courting my then girlfriend (who is now my wife) at that time, I often yearned silently in secret for a church wedding for I knew that was what we wanted most for our special day. However, all that I understood then was as a non-member, that dream was just not possible. It was heart-breaking and I shared this desire with my then pastor, Rev. CA Watson. This kind elderly and understanding pastor who, after considering my long involvement with the youth of the church, consented to conduct a wedding blessing for us in church instead. Praise the Lord! We registered our marriage with the Authority in April 1968 and went through the full wedding blessing ceremony in church, which included a guard-of-honor formed by the 1st Klang Boys’ Brigade Company, on 20th December 1969.
In February 1969, my banking career took off with a promotion and transfer to the bank’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Prior to that time, I was working in Port Swettenham (now Port Klang) and was still involved with the B.B. until our first child arrived in 1970. With the promotion, I was given greater responsibilities in my work which require long hours, and with a child, it dawned on me that I could not manage my 24 hours between work, family and B.B. So I asked for a release for the church in early ‘70s to focus on what I thought to be my top priority – my career. My involvement with the church became less, but that did not mean that I gave up the church completely. Certainly not! Although I did not serve in any ministry, I still attended church service whenever there was an occasion. Even when I was posted to Indonesia in 1972, I still remember I attended a few international church services both in Jakarta and Medan. The family did not join me as the posting was only for a year and the political situation of that country was not favorable. It was during this temporary separation that I began to learn to treasure those intimate moments with loved ones. I learned the deeper heartfelt meaning of love and the need to be loved. I believe now that God used those moments of loneliness firstly to test me and secondly, to teach me. I did not know then because I was not serious with God; I do know now.
Another major promotion came in 1976. God was blessing me but I was totally ignorant at that time! Our second child arrived. This promotion not only brought more monetary rewards, but also elevated me to yet another higher category of staff that are subject to transfer nationwide. What an opportunity to meet new people and cultivate new relationships.
Our first opportunity came in 1977 when I was posted to Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan). We attended Wesley Methodist Church in Teluk Intan and within 3 years, we established an intimate relationship with the local community that remains until today. Meanwhile, the question of baptism still loomed and remained unresolved in my heart. Parental objection to Christianity is never clearly understood. That was my perception anyway. By the time we left Teluk Intan in 1980, our third child arrived. The family has grown.
The mid ‘80s took me to Kuching where I served for a year. There, I worshipped in a Methodist church from time to time. The family was not with me and I was again reminded of the time loneliness similar to the Indonesian experience. I questioned God why I felt this way and why this should happen to me. I must admit that at that time, I did not know God and neither was I serious about wanting to know him. Yet, there was this feeling of calmness and peace whenever I was in church. Why was I feeling this way?
Back home, I was told that the care group that I used to attend was praying for my transfer home. That prayer was answered when after a year of service I was finally transferred to Petaling Jaya. One evening, the pastor Rev. Tan Wee Lee visited us at home and learning that I was still not a member of the church yet, asked me what I was waiting for. That question rocked me. Was he implying that I was indecisive? If I can make decisions in my workplace involving large sums of money, why was I not able to make a simple decision for my life? Was I just finding excuses to avoid the issue? Further, even if I pursued the matter earnestly, how would my mother react if I told her of my intention to go through baptism? Would I be labeled as an ungrateful son? How would my immediate relatives react as I would be the first in the family to take such a bold step? The consequence of going against my family tradition could lead to severing of family ties. I spent countless hours in that dilemma, worrying and thinking about the consequences if I went through baptism. God is good! I somehow knew that it was time for me to take a stand!
At an opportune time, in fear and trembling, I explained to my mother one day of my intention. I said that I have my own family now and I have decided that I want to be baptized. I assured her by doing that, I will not change my relationship and love for her. I also told her that the day when she leaves this world I will not be able to perform the traditional funeral rites as expected of the eldest in the family. To my surprise, she gave me her blessings and said that she understood my feelings. Praise the Lord! God is working in my life even without me knowing it! A mother’s love transcends human expectation and all this while, I was fearful of mother’s objection. I believe God had touched her heart too. He knows that at the right timing, mother would come to know our living God. My mother accepted the Lord before she was called home in January 2002.
The time to publicly acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior had come after waiting for 28 years. I was baptized by Rev. Tan Wee Lee on 10 February, 1985 together with my 3 children. If you remain faithful, God will bless you even further.
Another promotion came around 1986 and by this time, I was holding a senior position in the bank. God knows the timing to release his blessings on his children. His ways are higher than our ways. By that time, our eldest son was on the threshold of preparing to further his academic education overseas and the additional monetary income brought in by the promotion can just in time. Also, in another few years, our other two children would also be preparing for their education overseas. I realize that if you are just a wage-earner, there is only so much you can do. I thank God for providing the extra financial resources at that right time and by his grace, all our three children successfully completed their university education overseas.
In the early years of my Christian life, I was but a nominal Christian not knowing the need to grow or how to grow spiritually. We had everything we wanted in order to live a comfortable life. No complaints. In fact, on hindsight, there was a short period of spiritual decline since we were so contented. Complacency took a spot in my life; but thank God, it was only for a short time. I was a care group dropout, always giving excuses of being too busy with office work, too tired to attend meetings, never read the Bible regularly, and never leant to pray. In short, I could be described as a Sunday Christian.
Being in a senior position and with authority in the workplace, career seemed to occupy top priority. There was no time to be serious with God. He was always the second priority. My work, resolving my worldly problems were far more important than God. Yet at the back of my mind, I had never forgotten the place that provided me peace – the church!
I reached the peak of my career between the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when I had to travel to different countries regularly on business. I spent the most time in Hong Kong where during the weekends I used to look out for a suitable church to go to. There was none because I could not understand their local language. Eventually, I found an international group meeting regularly in YMCA on Kowloon side and I joined them for worship on Sundays. I realize from experience that even in a busy place like Hong Kong or New York, one can be lonely without loved ones around you.
When I was back in the country, it was work that kept me busy all the time. This mundane lifestyle went on for sometime and I was not even aware of it. But as always, our loving heavenly Father has a way to wake you up!
In July 1991, something happened that changed my outlook in life completely. My wife had been stricken with arthritis for one year. I saw her sufferings and I could do nothing to help. Even doctors and medical specialists could not help. In that month of July, God miraculously healed her. Up to this day, I could find no other explanation except that this healing came from our loving God. Doctors say arthritis could not be cured. I know now that miracles happen by the grace of God. As she got better each day, I began to realize how much our Heavenly Father cares for us. Of course, I did not understand it at first. I only sensed a strange feeling of peace and joy. I tried to ignore it but it kept coming back. I felt as if everything in this world was fresh and new. God was performing a miracle in our family and due to lack of understanding I did not even realize it was happening.
Yes, God touched my heart. I understand now what it means to get a touch from the Lord. Joy – unspeakable joy overflowed in my heart. I wake up each morning full of gratitude. My attitude towards life changed. God had been patient for 34 years. He had finally taken top priority in my life. There is no more excuse of being too tired to attend cell group meetings, Bible study and fellowship with other Christians. I stated reading Christian books and more importantly, the Bible. I get so excited that sometimes, I would read 3 books at the same time, very often up to 1 a.m. in the morning and still be able to get up fresh and early for work the next day. I feel like a new person.
God is so real to me now. One night when I was getting ready for bed, I sensed God’s prompting. I went down on my knees and asked, “What is it Lord?” The word that came to mind was “spend time reading the Bible daily”. You see, I had been praying for the Holy Spirit to come into my life. How can your prayers be answered if you don’t understand the Word of God? That was what the Lord was telling me that night.
As I read the Bible each day, I discovered many of God’s promises for us. They are so meaningful; so useful for us to live our lives in this broken world. Proverbs 3:5,6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Mark 11:24 says : “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”.
The Bible is full of wonderful promises, if only we take the time to read and meditate on God’s Word daily. For 34 years, from 1957 to 1991, I did not study the Bible seriously. But it is not too late to start. Abraham was 75 years old when the Lord called him to lead his people to Canaan. In case you are not aware, God has established a hotline for His people: It’s 5015 ext. 333. Psalms 50:15 says “Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you.” Jeremiah 33:3 says: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Since the time the Lord touched me in July 1991, I feel like a new person. Looking back, although more than 16 years had passed, yet it is as though God change my life yesterday! God is very much alive and I never lose focus as I continue my journey on earth. I may have gone through seasons of joy and sorrow; but I have never for a moment strayed from my faith. It is God’s grace that provides strength and hope for this lost world.
With complete retirement from active work in 2002, I am devoting more time in growing spiritually – from a banker to being a servant of God! Yes, there is more meaning in life than just chasing after a successful career. You can have a successful career, but never lose sight of what God is quietly doing in your life. Amid serving actively in church, I am still thirsting and searching for knowledge and understanding of His word. As the years go by, I know by the grace of God, I can only get better.
I hope this sharing will encourage some of you in one way or another. Tear down the wall of hindrance, laziness, hatred, bitterness, and disappointments – and surrender yourself completely to the Lord. You will be blessed a hundred-fold! In the day of trouble, remember God’s telephone number (Psalm 50:15 and Jeremiah 33:3) and trust in the Lord with all your heart!
God Bless All Of You!
Note to readers : 2 months after our dear brother Steven went home to glory, Sister Doris discovered this testimony while sorting his personal affects. She believes that Steven would have wanted to share it with all of us to encourage and remind us of the goodness of our Heavenly Father.