Wednesday, September 8, 2010

From Humble Beginning

Chen's background was that of poverty and hard work. During 1960s when Singapore was struggling to survive as a young nation, Chen's parents were among the many who survived as hawkers along North Bridge Road. As the government was taken shape, the police no longer could be bribed, All hawkers had to get a license to hawk their wares. Chen's parents finally managed to acquire a hawking license to sell porridge but their lucrative location had to go. It was deemed to cause obstruction to traffic. Their stall was then moved to a side road and business became slower than normal.

The government school was free but the books, uniforms and stationery were not. All these took a financial toll on Chen's parents, Chen was determined to make it to the top of class and even school. He worked doubly-hard in his school works. In his heart and soul, he knew that he was the only answer out of poverty for his parents and two younger siblings. Being the eldest, the responsibility of the family weighed heavy upon his 16 year-old shoulders. His class results were good and he topped his class every year. His parents did not understand how hard their son had worked until he came back one day to invite them to attend a school function. Chen had graduated first not only in his class but in the school. How proud the parents were when Chen's name was called. As he walked to receive his award and certificate, there were tears in the eyes of his parents.

Every day, after school, Chen was at the stall helping his parents. As a typical filial son, he was concerned about the health of his parents. He wanted them to take a break in the afternoon but they wanted him to go out with his friends. The love between parents and child was most commendable. For a teenager, Chen did not feel that he had missed the activities that some of his classmates and friends were enjoying. Moreover, he did not have the money to go to the movies at South Bridge Road. His joy is listening to English and Chinese music from their little Rediffusion set. When the parents were home, the little cabled radio was turned to Chinese talk programs and narratives. Simple life but rich in many ways.

At 18, Chen had completed his Pre-university education and like all 18 year-old young Singaporean males, he had to serve his National Service. He felt bad that he had become too busy and had to neglect his parents and their porridge business. Then he was offered an opportunity to become a fighter pilot. Without any hesitancy, he signed up. The deal was not just the regular two-year service required of National Service men but a twelve-year contract of a regular servicemen. Chen was attached to a training squadron at Changi Air Base. Initially, during his basic training, his parents, especially his mother, found time to visit him. Later, when he became an officer cadet, he had the time to visit them during the weekends.

The proud day came, when Chen became a Second Lieutenant of the Republic of Singapore Air Force. He progressed rapidly in his career. Most of the Taiwanese flight instructors spoke highly of him. They felt that Chen had the making of a squadron leader. The fact was that he did not only become a squadron leader, he became a base commander. By that time, Chen had gotten married, moved his parents to his new condominium and made them proud grandparents of two adorable children.

When asked what gave him the inspiration to achieve success, he said that it was a friend who shared with him the secret of success. He recalled while he was serving as a trainee pilot at Changi Air Base, an army clerk shared Christ with him. It took him a while to grasp the idea that he was a sinner and needed a Saviour. Initially, he did not feel that he was a sinner but a very good and filial son. He reasoned that he was honest and kind. How could God punish such a good person like him? 

One night, Chen was on night duty. His companion was the Christian clerk. Chen said that he was a good person and therefore, he had no need for any salvation from the so-called sins. The army clerk then asked if Chen would like to take a 'good person' test. Chen jokingly agreed. 

The clerk asked Chen whether the Ten Commandments meant anything to him. Chen said that apart from having watched the movie, 'Ten Commandments" acted by Charlton Heston, he had no idea what these commandments were all about. The Christian clerk explained about the laws of God and if anyone violated them, they will not be able to go to heaven.

Chen wondered why God would be so evil as to punish mankind. The clerk explained meticulously about how God loves mankind and instead of allowing sinful mankind to go to hell, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for fallen mankind. 
Chen was asked whether he had ever lied and he was honest enough to admit that he had lied.Yes, he was a liar.Then the clerk asked whether he had ever stolen. Chen became quiet because when he was a boy, his family was very poor. He was at Yaohan supermarket and he took a candy bar without paying. That had bothered him for a long time. Yes, he was a thief.

Chen also admitted that he had succumbed to lust and read Playboy magazines that belonged to another officer cadet. Yes, he was an adulterer.

What about the sin of murder? Chen was confused. He asked the clerk how could he be a murderer and still served as a cadet officer. The clerk explained that according to the Bible, anyone who hates others has already committed murder.

A heavy load descended upon Chen. He hated one of his maternal uncles who borrowed money from his parents to pay his gambling debts. One day, this uncle came to his house and shouted at his parents for not giving him enough money. Chen was 16 at that time, and he took a stool from the kitchen and attacked that uncle. That uncle never came back ever again. Chen had resolved in his heart that he would kill that uncle if he ever dare to come back again. Yes, Chen admitted to the clerk that he had hatred in his heart.

The clerk then asked, "If you are a liar, thief, adulterer and murderer, then how can you say you are a good person? Do you believe that by what you have done, heaven will be able to accept you?"

Chen hung his head in shame. After about a week of spiritual struggle, he confessed his sins. He told the Lord that he had repented of his sins and to grant him forgiveness.  He invited the Lord Jesus to become his Saviour. It was from then that he was determined to make the best of his life. 
For a moment, he wanted to become a missionary but after talking to his pastor, he realized that he could serve God better as a pilot. In his years as a fighter pilot, he was able to lead many members of his squadron to accept Christ as their Saviour. Even though he was never a full-time missionary, every year, he and his family would go on at least one mission trip. He said that the people whom he served in the mission fields had taught him more than what he had blessed them.

Today, Chen is no longer with the Air Force but flying commercial international flights with the Singapore Airlines. His elderly parents have since retired and enjoying their golden years with Chen and his family. The other two siblings have also grown up and become professionals too. 

The most wonderful of all is that all of them are now believers and attending the same church. Through hard works and persistence, Chen brought his family from poverty to success. But most importantly, Chen had brought salvation to his whole family and they are serving God actively.

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