Is anything ever an accident? The Rev Ling Kin Yew, pastor at Fairfield Methodist Church, ponders this question in his book Accident? When Life Takes an Unexpected Turn.
One early morning in May 2005, the Rev Ling received a harrowing phone call from his sister, Dawn, who was in Mobile, Alabama in the US. Their parents had been visiting her when the car they were in was involved in a horrific accident with a train.
While Mrs Ling tore a knee ligament and Dawn escaped unscathed, the accident left Mr Ling Swee Chan, then 58, with a severed spine, collapsed lungs and a jaw broken into three parts. He was paralysed from the chest down and spent more than half a year in hospital.
Earlier in his life, the Rev Ling had had many questions and doubts, like “Why can’t life be free from pain and suffering? What is the purpose of suffering? What is life all about anyway?”
Even though life had taken a difficult turn because of the accident, the Rev Ling came to realise that “some questions may never be answered. Some things about God, God’s creation and plans, we’ll never understand. Many times, the more we know, the more we realise we don’t know.”
But because of the accident, his parents had opportunities to share their testimony whenever they could, such as at churches and community gatherings. The Rev Ling, as the Assistant House Master at Oldham Hall and later through the Methodist Missions Society, shared about the accident and its aftermath to encourage others.
The Rev Ling is able to, in this slim volume, bring the reader through his roller coaster of emotions during and after his father’s accident, and then to the realisation that “what had initially seemed like a terrible accident paved the way to much unexpected blessing”. The questions at the end are helpful for readers to reflect on God’s purpose in their lives.
Sheri Goh is the editor of Methodist Message.
Book cover visual courtesy of Landmark Books.