“They told me they have hope that Jesus can change them, because they see the change in me!” – Kelvin Soh
The day dawned bright and sunny on 12 Sept 2015 at the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service’s first-ever Family Day carnival, bringing families together for fun and bonding.
The Presidents of the Chinese Annual Conference and Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference – the Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung and the Rev R. Prabhu – opened the carnival with prayer. They tried their hands at the games, and even posed for a picture at the instant photo booth. Hot food stations offered freshly-cooked carrot cake, nasi lemak, prata, chendol, and so on.
Nostalgic snacks such as kacang puteh and blocks of ice-cream on sticks were also available, as were games like capteh and five stones, and a henna-painting stall. An inflatable castle for the children, and later a Milo van, added to the festive atmosphere. Lively emcees ran prize giveaways for correct answers to quiz questions.
Mingled with the fun and food were opportunities for sharing the gospel, such as the magic show by Mr Ng Ki Chi, which incorporated concepts such as forgiveness, and talks in English, Chinese and Tamil by three special guest speakers.
Celebrity actress Jacelyn Tay shared about how she had grown up with a lot of fear, and her struggles with hurt and hatred had prevented her from experiencing and reciprocating love. This caused her to “become very hardhearted” and, in her words, “stopped me from having a life of joy”. However, she encountered love when she visited a cell group, and saw an elderly couple holding hands. “I found church people very weird!” she recalled. “I looked at them with envy.”
Now, she testified about how the Lord had transformed her life into one full of joy and peace, and how He had healed her and helped her realise she could depend on Him for everything. “God is … someone who really loves us,” she said. “When we allow Him to do miracles in our life by faith, our faith will grow.”
Mr Kelvin Soh interspersed his talk in Mandarin with songs he had written – one of which he sang in Hokkien. He noted: “Somebody commented that my wife and I are famous for talking about our ‘dirty past’. If not for Jesus, I wouldn’t be doing this!” He shared about how he had become addicted to drugs at the age of 11, had been arrested more than 10 times for drug-related offences, and spent 20 years of his youth behind bars, even receiving strokes of the cane.
It was when he was resting after a caning that a non Christian prison warden handed him a Chinese Bible. Through Hebrews 12:5-6, he sensed God telling him not to take discipline lightly. He cried, realising he needed God’s forgiveness. “I can’t change,” he told God, “but I ask You to change me. I don’t want to live like this.”
Kelvin credited the Lord for allowing him to share his testimony in many countries, and even giving him inspiration for songs despite his lack of musical background. Most moving was when Singapore Prisons invited him to share his story with current inmates, among whom he met some of his old friends. “They told me they have hope that Jesus can change them, because they see the change in me!” he said.
Mrs Anna Solomon, who spoke in Tamil, based her message on the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11-24. She drew the audience’s attention to the father’s perspective, of how he must have spent a long time looking down the road, hoping to see a familiar figure heading his way.
What joy the father must felt on the day he saw his son coming up the road! He ran forward quickly and embraced his son. Mrs Solomon noted that this parable helps us to understand God’s deep desire to bring reconciliation with Him and among His creation – His great plan of salvation based on His Love.
The Family Day was thus an occasion, not only for food and fun, but also to offer freedom in Christ for those who had yet to know our Heavenly Father
Grace Toh is Assistant Editor of Methodist Message and has been a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church for most of her life.