The story of my mother’s journey to her eventual baptism, spanning almost three decades, showcased how God faithfully remembers one of His own, demonstrating His persevering pursuit of His people across time, even if they initially chose to turn from Him.
A little more than 28 years ago, on Christmas Eve 1989, my mother had agreed to be baptised along with my family, but backed out suddenly on the day of the baptism. She said she was not ready.
From that day on, it was a long wait on the Lord for me as she returned to idol worship. She even underwent a ritual called “gui yi” (归依) – “gui” meaning “to return” and “yi” meaning “to rely on”. The ritual was to signify her reliance on this other god, and the accompanying articles of faith.
Even counseling by a pastor did not help her reconsider. She believed earnestly that all her life, she had relied on her god to bring up her children and protect her family, and that her successful children and their families were a testament to faith in her god.
Undeterred, I continued my efforts to reach out to her, with the support of my family and siblings. Whenever there were evangelistic or outreach opportunities, even just a dinner gathering that may or may not feature a speaker, I would bring her along.
These efforts culminated in bringing her to attend the Hokkien service in Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church at TA2. She only agreed to attend the TA2 service as she knew that she would be able to see her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, who attended the nearby Grace Methodist Church.
However, her attendance was not regular, skipping church at the slightest excuse: that her legs felt tired, or that she didn’t feel like going out. The hold that her old religion had on her was too strong – after each time the pastor visited her home and prayed for her, she would turn around and pray again to her god.
The turning point came when TA2 assigned a dedicated befriender, sister Teck Choo, to my mother. Teck Choo was about my mother’s age, yet was very active and always served cheerfully. She would always attend to my mother’s needs such as receiving her at church, helping her with refreshments, and sending her off week after week, continually showing care and concern for her, alongside the pastoral team.
The vivid display of the power of God’s love through Teck Choo soon touched my mother. My mother began attending church every Sunday and no longer skipped service. It also helped that the pastoral team, led by the Rev Ng Beng Keow, would visit her regularly. This made her comfortable with the team, and she finally gave the team her consent to be baptised.
An incident assured me that she had begun to put her faith in the Lord: during an after-dinner prayer for her two weeks before her baptism, she actually asked for prayer that God would protect her vision, as she has only one functioning eye. Now, she no longer puts her faith in her old religion, but instead looks forward to Sundays when she would be brought to church.
My mother was baptised on 24 Dec 2017 (pics above), 28 years to the day that she backed out on the doorstep of the Lord – a glowing and faith-bolstering testament to His persevering patience, love, and grace.
At the age of 90 and witnessed by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, my mother has indeed received the greatest gift this past Christmas, as the Lord continues His transformative work in her life. Praise the Lord!
Richard Tan –
is the Lay Leader of Grace Methodist Church.