Posts

_An-Accident-Nearly-Took-My-Life-But-Grace-Saved-Me

An Accident Nearly Took My Life But Grace Saved Me

Written By Xueying, Malaysia, originally in Traditional Chinese

On 20 August 2011, eight days after my 26th birthday, I was nearly killed in a car accident.

That Saturday morning, I was driving around the outskirts of my hometown, Ipoh, Malaysia, with a colleague. Suddenly, another car coming from the opposite direction veered into our lane and collided with us head-on, wrecking our car.

The driver, an elderly man, suffered minor injuries and was discharged shortly. My colleague and I, on the other hand, were critically injured. Both of us had to undergo surgery immediately. Tragically, my colleague passed away that very night. I remained unconscious, with multiple tubes inserted into my neck and wrist. A metal implant was also inserted into my right arm.

When my parents heard about the accident, they rushed to the hospital. When they saw the state I was in, they broke down. Every day after that, they would go to the temple to pray for my recovery. During that time, my relatives, friends and colleagues also visited me.

A week after the accident, I was transferred from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to the general ward as there was insufficient space in the ICU. Two months later, I was discharged; I was still unconscious.

For the first two months, I remained in a coma and was fed through a feeding tube. Pastors and church members streamed in to visit me. They held my hands and prayed fervently for me.

By the grace of God, I regained consciousness two months later. That, however, was just the beginning of a long and challenging journey. Due to injuries to my brain, my cognitive ability was severely impaired. Although friends and relatives tried to talk to me, I was unable to respond.

I had regressed to infant behavior. I had to re-learn simple things, like drinking water. My father removed my feeding tube and my mother tried to feed me with a milk bottle, coaxing me like a baby and saying repeatedly, “Come, swallow, swallow . . .” Apparently, it took me a minute just to swallow one mouthful.

Because the nerves on my left brain were so severely damaged, my mobility was restricted. I was lying on my back all the time, and it took me a lot of effort just to sit up.

Several months later, I started to walk again, supported by a pair of crutches. I will never forget the tremendous difficulty this took—I had to take a break every one or two steps, since it was too tiring to move my body. Each day, I could manage only a few hundred steps.

It was utterly exhausting. Back then, I didn’t know that I could rely on God, until a church friend passed me a Bible one day. She said to me, “Xueying, try reading the Bible when you are able to read. You can find answers to all your life questions and doubts in the Bible—true answers.”

As a child, I used to attend Sunday school; I loved singing worship songs. In university, I also attended church. However, although I knew who Jesus was, I never bothered to develop a personal relationship with Him. The only times I prayed were before exams or before the exams results were announced.

But the accident made me wonder about God’s purposes. I needed to know why I had to go through so much suffering in my life and why my loved ones had to suffer along with me. As such, while learning how to walk, I started to read the Bible.

I remember the first time I read the Bible vividly. I was casually flipping through the Bible and stumbled on this verse: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Instantly, my heart was lifted. This teaching by Jesus reinvigorated me and filled me with hope—God loves me and I am His new creation! From then on, I would tell myself whenever I felt like giving up, “Don’t cry, don’t be discouraged. God will lead the way, just follow Him in faith.”

In the five and a half years following my accident, I barely touched any form of technology—this despite the fact that I was working as an electrical engineer before my accident. Instead, I would read the Bible voraciously every day, spending time to reflect on how to follow God’s word.

During my recovery, I had five major falls—each caused unbearable pain. The fifth time, I lost my balance in my own bedroom and landed heavily. The scab on my left wrist scraped against the wall and blood started to flow profusely. The pain was excruciating and I sat on the floor because I was unable to get up from the floor on my own. I closed my eyes tightly and cried out to God, “Please help me Father, I’m in a lot of pain!”

At that moment, a song that I had learned more than 21 years ago came to my mind: “Although I’m weak, God is strong”. This immediately strengthened and comforted me. I reached out to grab some tissue to wipe the blood off my wrist, and told myself not to be afraid and to wait for my parents to come and help me. Ten minutes later, my father walked past my room and saw me sitting on the floor. “Why are you sitting on the floor, does your head hurt?” he asked. I could see the look of pain on his face when his eyes landed on the blood-soaked tissue on the floor beside me.

As he helped me up, I assured him by telling him my head did not hurt—it was just my left wrist that hurt. I added, “Wow papa, you can lift me up so quickly! You’re so strong!”

As I look back on this accident, I thank God for using it to change me inside out. He has saved me from being the pessimist I used to be, and rescued me from my dark thoughts. Now, I follow Him in the light and give thanks for everything I have in life. I’ve since learned that though there will always be difficulties in this life, with God I can overcome them all.

To a person who has gone through a near death experience, I have come to see that being able to live each day is nothing short of a miracle. And having experienced God’s saving grace, I see how it is the gospel that gives us the hope of living.

Coming from a village in Malaysia where most villagers are not Christians, I am especially aware that it is the grace of God that has enabled me to get to know Him. Therefore, I am making it a priority in my life to learn more about Him and tell others about God so that many people can get to know Him as their Lord and Savior. God’s word from Galatians 6:9 reminds me to spread the gospel zealously. My parents for instance, are not Christians, but have been opened to learning more about God. It warms my heart when I see how interested they are to hear the Bible stories.

A year ago on Christmas Eve, I testified about God’s goodness in church in the presence of my parents. I shared about God’s saving grace in my life and how He changed me. I compared my experience to the process of the metamorphosis of a pupa that faces difficulty when it breaks out of the cocoon. When it does, however, it emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

More recently, I have managed to ditch the crutches and make it up to the second floor of my church to attend service on my own feet. Praise be to God!

It is my prayer that I will continue to be found faithful sharing the gospel of Jesus, so that His word can light the way for others, just as it has for me.

“We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.”—Hebrews 3:14

 

The-Day-I-Was-Saved-by-Unbelievers

The Day I Was Saved by Unbelievers

Written By Charles Christian, Indonesia

Eighteen years ago, my carefree life turned into a living hell overnight.

It was May 1998, and riots broke out in my city, Jakarta in Indonesia. They were triggered by economic problems including food shortages and mass unemployment. Native Indonesians were provoked to commit barbaric acts against Chinese Indonesians, which included looting and burning their properties.

As a Chinese Christian, I am part of an ethnic as well as religious minority in my country. Ethnic Chinese make up only 1.2 percent of the population in Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world.

It was estimated that more than 1,200 people died in the riots, and thousands of shops and houses were burned to the ground. At least 168 rape cases were reported, and material damage was valued at more than Rp 3.1 trillion (approximately US$236 million).

I was in primary school at the time. It was near our final-year examinations, but the situation forced schools to close. We stayed indoors, but after hearing that the chaos was escalating and buildings and residential compounds were being set on fire, my family decided to get out of town. We felt it would be safer than staying at home.

We were so wrong.

That day, seven of us were packed into my father’s car—my parents, my brother and I, two maids and our chauffeur. Just before we set off, however, we suddenly remembered that our neighbor’s maid was alone at home. Although she was a native Indonesian and a Muslim, we were also worried for her safety. As my neighbor was rarely at home, her maid was often home alone. We asked if she wanted to join us, and she readily accepted. She hopped into the car and sat in the last row of seats next to my father, who was very afraid that his looks would give away his ethnicity. And off we went.

We decided to use the highway, hoping that it would provide the fastest way out of town. But it turned out to be a big mistake. Things started to look suspicious when we realized that there was no one at the toll gate to collect the fee. Around us, people were walking all over the highway. We had never seen this happen before. My mother decided to throw some cash onto the road, hoping that they would go after the money and leave us alone. For some time, our car was able to inch forward—but not for long. Soon, people started to gather around our car and block us from moving forward. We were trapped!

Horrified, we watched as they stopped our car and started to pull out the wiper blades and wing mirrors. They also started small fires around our car. Having heard many cases in which cars were burned down and passengers killed or raped, we were gripped with fear. My father tried to hide himself from view, but to no avail.

The crowds opened the car’s back door and saw my father and my neighbor’s maid, who started crying hysterically. They told my father to get out. I believed that they were going to torture my father or kill him; I didn’t know what to do other than pray. My father was immobilized with fear, so they started dragging him out of the car.

Just then, my neighbor’s maid stopped them and started pleading with them. “Son, remember Allah . . . What you’re doing is not right. Remember Allah, Son . . .” Her pleas proved effective, as the crowds started to move away. Eventually, they let our car through. We had thought we were saving our neighbor’s maid, but it was she who saved us!

As I think back on this episode, I’m reminded of Lot’s story in Genesis 19:1-29. While he thought that he had needed to save the two angels from the wicked people in Sodom, it was those angels who eventually saved him.

After barely escaping the scene, we faced another problem. The sky had become darker, and we knew that it was too risky to return home. We were also afraid to continue the journey, as we didn’t know whom else we would encounter along the way.

Driving on, we reached a residential area of native Indonesians. By God’s grace, we found a Muslim family who not only warmly welcomed us to stay in their home, but also prepared food and blankets for us. The next morning, they sent us to my grandma’s home at a safer location.

The following morning, I was the first to wake up. A song was playing in another room. Curious, I walked into the room and found that the TV was on, but nobody was watching it. To my surprise, the song playing was the hymn, “Along the Road”. These were the lyrics:

Along the road of life I have a friend divine
who walks with me and gently leads the way
He gives me joy and makes the darkest night to shine
It is my Lord who won my heart one day

I do not mind the rough and winding pathway,
O’er mountain steep, thru valleys dark and cold,
It is enough to know He travels by my side
Along the road that leads to streets of gold

I was deeply touched by the lyrics. While I didn’t know what made me wake up early that day, or why the TV was switched on, or why that song was broadcasted at the time, I knew one thing: God was telling me that He was my friend divine. He had been with me and protected me from every harm and danger every step of the way.

A few days later, we returned home. Thankfully, our home was intact. And by God’s grace (and to my surprise), I didn’t feel any fear at all. The riots subsequently died down and life in Jakarta returned to a semblance of normalcy.

Since then, I’ve become more respectful towards others who are different, having experienced the kindness of strangers (and neighbors) in my life. But the biggest lesson I’ve learned from that difficult moment is about how God had, and is always protecting and providing for me.

Truly, it is enough to know that He travels by our side!

Nepal-Earthquake-2

Reliving the Horrific 2015 Nepal Earthquake

Written By S. A., Singapore

25 April 2015. It was the day my friend came to Nepal to visit me (I was mid-way through my one-year missions stint in Nepal). It was also the day the world witnessed the most horrific earthquake to strike Nepal since 1934. More than 8,000 people were killed and more than 21,000 people injured.

My friend and I were attending a church service on the third floor that morning. It was sermon time and the preacher was halfway through his reading from Genesis 17 when the entire building started to shake violently. I could hear the deep rumbling of the ground below us; birds outside were flying in all directions, and everything around us rattled.

Coming from earthquake-free Singapore, it took me some time to realize that I was in the middle of an earthquake—a 7.8 magnitude one, I found out later. My first thought was, “I need to get out of this building!” So I grabbed my bag and stood up, all ready to dash down to the ground floor.

But when I looked around me, I saw that none of the Nepali believers had moved. Instead, they remained sitting or standing, their hands raised up to God as they prayed fervently.

Immediately, I felt ashamed as I realized how, unlike them, my first instinct had not been to cry out to God for help. So I sat down again and prayed earnestly. I prayed that God would keep the building standing. I prayed that God would stop the earthquake. I prayed that God would save us. But at the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but think: “This is going to be the last day of my life.”

After a few seconds, the tremors died down. Everyone cheered and clapped. Then it started again. Then we continued to pray. The earthquake lasted for less than a minute, but at that point, it felt like forever. The tremors eventually subsided and we could walk down the stairs in an orderly fashion.

Nepal-Earthquake-5

Some of the believers remained indoors and sang, “Dhanyabaad Yesu mero man dheki”, which means “Thank you Jesus from my heart”. Tears filled my eyes at the sight of them singing out to the Lord.

Suddenly, there was a commotion outside. I couldn’t fully comprehend what was going on because my Nepali wasn’t good enough. We saw some men running towards the big blue gate of the church and shutting it. We found out later that there was an elephant roaming around outside and they had wanted to keep it from coming into the church compound. The whole situation felt so surreal.

Later on, as we walked home, we saw that most of the brick walls surrounding people’s houses had collapsed. People were gathered in groups in open spaces, and many were trying to make phone calls. At one site, a three-storey house had been completely destroyed, and police were trying to remove the rubble. A crowd of about 100 people were gathered there, some watching, some taking photos. We weren’t sure if there were any deaths.

Nepal-Earthquake-3

For an hour or so, we felt the ground jerk or sway below us. There were many aftershocks that day—and in the days, weeks, and months to come. For the next few days, we slept in tents. Every morning, we sang “10,000 Reasons” to remind ourselves that every day was a day to be thankful for, and hoped that things would get better.

Nepal-Earthquake-1

Different people reacted to the shock differently. Some of my co-workers had post-trauma anxiety and had to return to their home countries to seek professional help and to heal. In my case, I knew God was calling me to stay—even though the Singapore High Commission in New Delhi and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had contacted my mom to ask her about me and had offered to evacuate me. At that point, I was convicted to stay so that I could be with the people of Nepal, and was grateful that my parents respected my decision. I eventually stayed in Nepal for a total of 18 months—till July this year.

Does the earthquake still have an impact on me, now that I’m back in Singapore?

Yes, in some ways. Till today, whenever I hear a sound similar to that of the earthquake alarm, my body automatically stiffens up and responds as if there is danger. In my first week back home, there were times when I felt as if my bed was swaying while I was lying down. And when I went on a cruise, the vibration of the ship below me reminded me of the earthquake.

Does that mean I am still traumatized? I don’t think so. It’s just a new “normal” that I have to learn to survive with. Through the experience of the earthquake, I now understand much more deeply this verse from Isaiah 54:10, which says, “‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

In the midst of chaos, God is remains unshakable.

 

Photos contributed by S. A.

A-Former-Olympian-The-Greatest-Race-of-My-Life

A Former Olympian: The Greatest Race of My Life

Editor’s Note: In 2008, then 18-year-old Calvin Kang was selected as a wildcard entry to represent Singapore in the men’s 100 meter sprint at the Beijing Olympic Games. The former Olympian shares with YMI about his journey to the biggest race of his life and what he’s learned from it.


Written By Calvin Kang, Singapore

I started running at a young age—I used to break things at home because I was always knocking into them. Naturally, my mum wasn’t pleased so she got me to play downstairs instead. That’s when I started playing catching with the other kids. I always enjoyed being the catcher, as I was often able to catch all the kids.

When I was in Primary Three, my physical education teacher noticed my running ability and encouraged me to join the school’s track and field team. I picked up the techniques of sprinting quickly; it felt very natural to me. From then, my love for sprinting grew.

In Secondary school, I started to train 10 times a week in the Singapore Sports School. My life revolved around competitions and training camps, some of which were overseas. Physical injuries also became a part and parcel of my life; these included injuries to my hamstring, lower back and hip flexor. I was progressing well and at 15, I qualified for my first IAAF World Youth Championships. It was the biggest competition for my age category.

Unfortunately, I suffered two back-to-back injuries and ended up being out of action for the entire year. That was highly demoralizing and I even considered quitting entirely. But I could sense that God was not done with me. I decided to trust Him and focus on my recovery. Subsequently, God not only granted me fully recovery, but also enabled me to achieve my goal of breaking the 11-second barrier (for the 100 meters sprint) in the year after. I managed to clock a time of 10.88 seconds from my previous best of 11.09 seconds.

On hindsight, I realize that God had used that episode to teach me a lesson on obedience and patience, and it strengthened my faith in him. When I tried to take on more than I could handle—for example, if I planned to take part in six competitions in a year but along the way, got tempted to take on one more—I would end up sustaining injuries because of my “greed”.

When I was 18 years old, I was the fastest man on the track in my country. In the lead up to the Olympics, I remember that there were a number of news articles about who my country would send as a wildcard entry. (Wildcard entries are given to countries which don’t have athletes that qualify on merit for the Olympics.) It was between me and veteran sprinter, Poh Seng Song. Poh represented Singapore at the 2004 Athens Olympics and was still performing well that year.

Although I was the best performing athlete then, I was only 18 and many thought it was not a good idea to send me as I had no experience of competing on the global stage. So when I heard the news that I was selected to participate in the 100 meters race, I was immensely excited and grateful. I knew it was only by God’s grace that the Olympic committee chose me. It motivated me to aim for excellence on the track, and to keep trusting in God’s purposes for me.

The journey to the Olympics was a challenging one. I suffered from many physical injuries. But throughout the journey, I never felt alone as I always had the support of my family, friends and church mates who prayed alongside me. Looking back, I am thankful that my formative years were spent in God’s community, which played a key role in reminding me of His presence and faithfulness. I knew that God had things planned for me and it taught me to wait on the Lord.

The Greatest Race of My Life

Race day finally came.

It was 9.33am in the morning and I was in heat 7, lane 3. When I saw the start list, I was amazed by the immense strength of the other sprinters. On my right was Portuguese sprinter, Francis Obikewlu, who was the 2004 silver medallist in the 100m with a personal best of 9.86 seconds. I was also alongside the fastest guys in Nigeria and Canada. The eventual bronze medallist of that Olympics, Walter Dix from USA, was also in my heat.

I can still remember the thunderous cheers from the crowd as we walked from the call room onto the track. It was so loud I could hardly hear my steps on the track. I was the only Asian in my heat—the smallest and the youngest. But I didn’t feel intimidated, knowing full well that it was God’s plan for me to be a part of that race. I felt immensely proud to be wearing my country’s flag on my chest, and representing my family, self and God.

“On your marks, set . . . bang!” I took off. In the first 30 meters, I was among the top few runners. But from the 40-meter mark, the rest of the runners simply flew past me and my gap between them kept widening. Even while racing, I was in awe of their speed and the thought crossed my mind: I am actually running the 100 meters in the Olympics, this is so cool!

I gave my best and finished fifth (out of eight runners). Although I did not manage to clock my best timing or advance to the semis, it was the biggest race of my life—and an experience I would never forget.

My Olympic journey reminds me about the story of Abraham and God. Despite not knowing where God was leading him to, Abraham trusted in God and obeyed God’s calling to leave his family and go into a foreign land (Gen 12:1). Similarly, at many points during my journey, I found myself having to trust in God’s direction and leading.

Being a part of the 2008 Olympics has given me a new perspective on my faith as a Christian. Just like how I had not qualified on my own merit, but was given this privilege to take part in the Olympics, the salvation I have is not by my own works, but a gift from God. And that motivates me to want to give my best to God, not just in my races, but in my whole life.

 


About Calvin Kang

Date of Birth: 16 April 1990
Personal Best(s): 10.47s (Men 100m, 2015 Singapore Open)
Games he’s competed in:
2008 Beijing Olympics,
2010 Commonwealth Games
2010 Asian Games
2013 SEA Games
2011 Jakarta-Palembang Southeast Asian Games
2012 ASEAN University Games
2014 Asian Games

Photo taken from here