Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chapter Five - The Objections

Chapter Five


I asked: “Father, did you really understand what you had done?” He replied, word by word: “Yes, …Jesus….Saviour….I am converted….Miracle!”

THAT SUNDAY morning, I was worshipping at Praise Baptist Church in Bandar Sri Damansara. Very briefly, I shared about my father's decision to accept Christ and how God had answered my prayers after all these years of praying for all my family members.

Guest speaker for that morning, Pastor Dennis Balan, spoke from a passage of the Scripture: "Fight the good fight of faith." In his opening speech, he mentioned that it had become clear to him why he had prepared that message for the Sunday morning.

"I wasn't quite sure initially why I was preparing this message. Praise the Lord, now I know. Thank you, brother, for your sharing," he said enthusiastically.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

I knew deep down in my heart that this was going to be a spiritual battle that I was engaging myself in.

“We are not fighting with flesh and blood, but against the powers and the principalities of darkness that operates behind the actions of men,” I thought to myself.

I resolved to fight the good fight of faith. Throughout the period, there were times when I was reminded again and again, the passage from I Timothy 6:12 : "Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

When I brought home two deacons from Praise Baptist, Philip Chieng and Dr Lim Poh Ann, Father was still resting at home. Dr Lim asked him about his conditions and gave some medical advice regarding his diarrhoea. Prior to leaving, it was normally their courtesy to ask if they could pray for my father. Father nodded his head in agreement.

Just then, a relative of mine suddenly jumped up from where he was seated and stopped Philip and Dr Lim from praying for Father.

“If you want to pray, please go back to your church to pray. Don’t create any disunity in the family,” he objected.

When I interrupted, the guests decided to leave. Not wanting to create any animosity, they left, but assuring my father and myself that they would continue to remember him in prayer.

An hour later, my Auntie Angeline arrived with a friend of hers, 80-year-old Auntie Liew from Full Gospel Assembly. Auntie Angeline had shared with my father about how God had healed several people, including Auntie Liew. Right after Church, she brought Auntie Liew to personally share with Father about her own experience when facing death. Auntie Liew briefly said to him: "I heard that you have received Jesus as your personal Saviour. Now, you are my brother and I am your sister, you understand?"

Father nodded his head and put on an infectious smile. Saying nothing, he was probably amused by the vibrant character that Auntie Liew was.

Strong Objections

Shortly after that, Auntie Liew began to share her testimony to Mother as well. Springing up from his seat, the same relative started a row again. This time, with Auntie Angeline.

“You should not hit the poor man below the belt,” his accusation had turned into a heated argument.

“We are not forcing him to believe in Christ,” Auntie Angeline replied. “He has to make his own decision. No one can make a decision for him. God will not accept any decisions that are coerced.”

Auntie Angeline explained again that her intention was just to bring Auntie Liew along, as she had promised Father a week ago to show him a living testimony.

Father was in the room while the guests were quarrelling outside.

When I saw that the row was not subsiding, immediately, I had to put a stop to it.

“Please keep silent!” I demanded. “My father is suffering in the room just nearby.”

Realising that the argument would turn sour, Auntie Liew asked to be excused. The last thing Auntie Angeline wanted, as I learnt from her later, was to quarrel. To me, as the son, it was not right for anyone to cause a stir in the family, especially when my father was in the room, suffering in his pain. At the end of the day, like anyone else, he had every right to hear the Gospel for himself for his last time. I was not prepared to tolerate the commotion caused in the midst of the family, now that my father was in pain.

Contrary to the allegations made, Father was in a very sound state of mind. When relatives were talking about my younger sister's courtship, he even interrupted, "Courting for seven years is too long." Although he was on medication, his mind was still very alert and he could still make a decision of his own. Even on the final day when his condition had become very critical, he could still make a decision when we asked him whether he preferred to die at home or at the hospital. There was absolutely no reason for anyone to stop him from hearing the Gospel for his last time. I knew God would take care of that.

On the same evening, I joined Uncle Billy and family, along with my sister, Su Lin, brother-in-law, Victor and their family for dinner at Marco Polo Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, while Mother was taking care of Father at home. I felt bad that Mother had to take care of him all alone by herself and she was also missing out a lot on her sleep.

Confirming his faith

Wednesday afternoon of September 30, when some friends -- Lai Chin, Lai Kuan and Mrs Mary Choy – visited Father at home again, Sister Lai Chin played him two songs on the piano: "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" and "Amazing Grace." Incidentally, these were also the songs that I used to minister to him, besides the other favourites, "Shepherd of Love" and "O Lord, How Great Thou Art!"

When Lai Chin asked whether his condition had improved, Father was complaining: "I am suffering. Coughing. Still not feeling well. Don't know what's the actual cause."

Reassuring him again, Lai Chin said: "You must pray everyday."

He replied in English: "Yes."

The other sister-in-Christ, Lai Kuan, added: “Mr Ng, God will hear your prayers. You just need to talk to Him.”

"Yes, I do pray whenever I am in pain," Father replied her in Cantonese. There was not a doubt that he really meant what he said. He later held their hands when they prayed for him before leaving the house.

Prayer was what Father needed most during the most difficult moment in his life. It was to God that he knew he had to turn to when there was no one else who could help him.

Father's decision to accept Christ was not only once. As a son, knowing that he did not have very much longer to live, I wanted to make absolutely sure that he had accepted Christ out of his own freewill, and that he understood what he had done on Sunday morning of September 27. I wanted to make sure that he was not just responding to my wishes - else, the decision would not be genuinely his. I kept praying for him, and asked him occasionally whether he really understood the sinner’s prayer. It came to a point that he even scolded me for being "so repetitive."

In the morning of October 1, at around 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning, while he was unable to sleep, I asked: "Father, did you really understand what you had done?"

He replied, word by word : "Yes..... Jesus......Saviour..... I am converted..... Miracle."

Father reassured me that he understood what he had done when he prayed to receive Jesus as his personal Saviour. Even the word "converted" that he used did not exist in my vocabulary. I do not go around “converting” others. I only share the Good News of Jesus Christ with people. It's up to them to believe, and they have to make their own decisions. It’s God who converts and transforms a person. Frankly, I am not on a converting spree. While I only make sure that everyone has the opportunity to hear the Gospel explicitly explained, to believe in Christ is really a personal decision.

Realising that he might be expecting for healing, I told him that same night of October 1: "Father, God has different plans for different people. Some, He heals; others, He gives a completely new body."

"How long?" he moaned. "How l-o-n-g?"

"What you are going through is only temporary. Once it is over, God will give you a new body," I said, trying gradually to prepare him to accept the fact that he might not live very long. I did not want to tell him that he was suffering from lung cancer. Nonetheless, it was important to prepare him to leave this world peacefully.

I read him a passage from 1 Corinthians 16 to assure him of the new body that God would give him:

"All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour.
"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."

The Denial

One Sunday night of October 4, he was suffering from pain all over his body, including his legs. He could hardly sleep. In his anguish, he was murmuring to himself. I overheard him asking about the time in Thailand. "Thailand is two-hours ahead of us?" he asked.

Then, he called out to a deity. I got a little worried, and I asked him why he was calling out to that deity.

Mixed with Hokkien and Malay, he said: "Yeah, Jesus also never tolong (help) me."

His body was aching all over. For the whole night, he was groaning in pain.

"Just trust in Him," I encouraged him.

"I have changed my mind," came his reply.

Realising that this was a spiritual battle that I was engaged in, I stepped aside to pray.
Through the night, I kept praying for nearly two hours to ask the Lord to intervene.

"Lord, please come and minister to him yourself. There's nothing else I can do for him. You may have to appear to him yourself and talk to him. You love him. You have to do something," I prayed.

In my heart, I kept saying: "Lord, I release your power of healing and I bind the power of Satan right now. In Jesus' name."

Father asked to be helped to bed. Just as I laid him down, I sang a few comforting hymns over and over again to minister to him. Two of the favourite songs that I sang were "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" and "Shepherd of Love."

I saw that he was already going to sleep. I continued praying for him at one corner of the room.

Shortly after, he began to talk to himself again.

"Master," I heard him calling.

Curious, I walked over to his bed to listen carefully what he was muttering. As if he was seeing a vision and announcing the arrival of Christ, he said: "Jesus (is) coming!"

A very clear and definite prayer followed on – as simple as the prayer of a child.

"My heart, Jesus, come in," he said.

I kept praying for him, while listening to more things that he was mumbling to himself.

Speaking now in Hokkien, he said: "I don't know whether Jesus will hold my hands for three days?" The word that he used in Hokkien referring to `days’ is quite different from the word that I am familiar with. There are two ways of saying `days’ in Hokkien.

"Yeah, I know, if I fall, I will have stroke and it will take longer for me to heal," he continued talking in his sleep, as if replying to someone in his dream.

By 3am, he slept very peacefully. As I was praying, I opened my eyes several times to see why he had not made any sound at all. He used to be breathing heavily or coughing hard; but this time, there was hardly any sound.

I thought for a moment that he was G-O-N-E!

I stood up and approached him again to check if he was still breathing. I noticed that part of his belly was still moving. He was still breathing normally. When I went to sleep, Mother later told me that she had also woke up just to check why he was sleeping so peacefully that morning. She also noticed that Father was breathing normally but did not even make a sound.

Father had the best sleep ever for two solid hours until 5am. When I woke up, I asked if he was feeling better. "Yes, I feel a lot better today," he replied. "My legs are not that painful anymore, not like last night."

He paused for a while.

"I feel I can walk, but I don't dare to walk," he continued. He made several attempts to walk on his own without the walker. I was the one who kept reminding him that if he fell, it would be even worse for him and the rest of the family. Reminding him of stroke again, I said: "Yeah, you said yourself yesterday that if you fall, you would have stroke."

I had never noticed his swollen legs. It was Mother, who admitted a few days later that Father's legs were no longer swollen compared to the night before. Was it a miracle? It must have been more than a miracle, as I listened to what he had to say later.

He asked Mother: "My medicine. Where's my medicine? Did he take it away?"

Mother asked: "What do you mean by your medicine? Which medicine?"

"And, who do you mean when you said he took away your medicine? Who took away your medicine?" I interrupted.

He refused to answer. The mystery still remains till this day.

Who did Father see in a vision? Did the Lord appear to him in a vision? No one knows, except that I heard him talking in his sleep. His fresh composure the next morning was good enough to tell me that something had taken place the night before when he personally invited Jesus once again into his heart.

It is likely that Father had a vision of Jesus coming to visit him!

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