Blessings from the Classroom
by Bethany Khng
“Mrs Khng? I am Daniel Khoo. Do you remember me?”
Standing right in front of me with a bright, radiant smile, was a strapping, well-built young man who extended a hand that gripped mine in a warm handshake. He had indeed grown taller and much more matured, but that winsome smile and unsuppressed enthusiasm of his had not changed over the years. Memories of my early years teaching in Bukit Ho Swee Secondary School came back, overwhelmingly, and once again, I was in the little canteen sitting across a young lad of 14, with his head bowed in prayer as he asked Jesus to come into his heart…
The year was 1974.
In those early days, I was teaching a number of different subjects – English Language, Literature and even History. As a Christian teacher, I felt it was my responsibility not only to meet the academic needs of my young charges, but also, more importantly, to fill their spiritual void with the Word of God. On many occasions, I would find opportunities to drop the seeds of the gospel during my lessons. It was not an easy task, as the pupils were multi-racial and religious harmony was a sensitive issue in our society. This was compounded by the fact that the school was located near “the red light” and “the slum” district of Singapore. Many of the kids had succumbed to peer pressure and were draw into secret society gang activities which included drugs-talking, smoking, drinking, gambling, fighting and other vices that we associate with nowadays’ Fire Disco and Clark Quay’s kids. The immoral indulgences two decades ago were no different from today’s. To many of my Bukit Ho Swee kids, Christianity was a “foreign” religion and Jesus Christ was only a “good man” they learned about in their History lessons.
I remember it was in this class, Sec 2/7, which burdened by the spiritual darkness of the school situation, I shared the gospel with the boys. The Lord worked a small miracle. Although I have forgotten the details of the event, for it had happened so long ago, I remember this quite clearly: a boy by the name Khoo Hung Siang opened his heart to receive the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour one sunny afternoon, sitting across the wooden bench in the school canteen. His life was changed almost instantaneously as he became a new creature in Christ. The indulgences of his old life vanished and his frank open face glowed with the Joy of the Lord as he gave his testimony of his salvation in word and deed. He was a previous co-labourer ad he attended out Students’ Club faithfully and went out ‘tracting’ or soul-winning with the church.
This young lad had often reminded me of the verses in Psalm 126:1-2a, ‘When the Lord turned again the capacity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing’. For Hung Siang, whom we later christened Daniel, was always smiling – laughing – and full of the joy of the Holy Spirit, despite persecution and opposition from his family. Being the eldest son, he was expected to lead the way of ancestral worship in his family. ‘Eating the foreign religion’ would signify the end of ‘filial piety’ as far as his parents were concerned. One time, we even attempted to pacify his angry parents but were ‘graciously’ shown the front door. However, through much prayer, patience and perseverance, Daniel managed to keep his faith and even attended the Jesus Saves Missions School of Mission (SOM) for Bible training. Later, upon his graduation, he went to Taiwan to be a missionary and continued to serve the Lord there with his wife.
The years went by and would I have thought that once again, I would meet him, this time, as one of the JSM International Revival Conference speakers at Life B-P Church? ‘The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.’ (Psalm 126:3) Someone once said that if we ‘produce’ a soul-winner, that is, witness to someone and disciple him till he is able to lead another person to Christ, we have ‘reproduce’ ourselves 100%. It was a privilege to be able to show this young man the way of salvation and through much tribulation, he had not only grown in spiritual stature, but also led his beloved mother, who had opposed him the hardest, to the Lord Jesus Christ shortly before her death. ‘Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.’
“Yes, Daniel, I remember you!” I wanted to say, “You still look the same,” but that would not have been truthful for he had indeed grown in stature, both physically and spiritually. The Lord has been using this young man mightily in Taiwan, Malaysia and now in Singapore. God has also supplied his servant’s needs faithfully, when he was pastor in a struggling church in Taiwan without any financial support. Although he is now serving in Malaysia, Daniel and his wife, Lee Nah, still have a burden to be missionary to China and when that day comes, it would be our joy and privilege once again, as his former mentors, to be able to support him as the Lord enables us.
Back to the present, 1996. I am now teaching in ACS (Independent).
Last year, I had the privilege of leading a Secondary 1 student to the Lord. Liu Guoyi was an unusually mature and serious boy at 13. What caught my attention was his attentiveness during lessons and his smile or rather the lack of it! He hardly smiled! When he did so, it was as beautiful as the rainbow after a light shower.
Once, during a composition class, we were discussing the topic ‘My ambition’. Most of the boys wanted to be some kind of professional – doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer, business men, etc. When it came to Guoyi’s turn to share about his ambition, he told the class with some embarrassment that he would like to be ‘an ambassador’. Most of his classmates twittered. A what? They thought he was weird. Such an aspiration would appear to be a tall order for any other 12-year-old boy, I thought, but for this studious, thoughtful-looking young man, well, who could tell? I told the class that it was a ‘high and noble calling’ and I had ‘no doubt that Guoyi would make an excellent ambassador for Singapore should he ever become one.’
Soon after he got saved, Guoyi began attending the Bible Study I had with the boys at recess on every Thursday. He was growing – slowly but steadily, in his newfound faith. He continued to be conscientious and quietly attentive, but was smiling more readily.
This year, although I am no longer teaching him as he is in Secondary 2, Guoyi never fails to attend the Bible Study faithfully. Still, it came as a surprise when he shared in his usual earnest manner, “Madam, I feel that God wants me to be a preacher when I grow up.”
This immediately brought to my mind what he had told his classmates a year ago. I was thrilled.
“Guoyi, if you do become a preacher, you will still be an ‘ambassador’ in every sense. You are an ambassador for Christ and this is the highest calling in life; it’s better than being a representative for your country, Singapore, for you would be representing the King of kings and His heavenly kingdom.”
Whether Guoyi becomes a preacher, a missionary, a full-time Christian worker or simply remains a lay-worker is the Lord’s concern. But right now, I know that he is a Christian who is faithfully reading the Bible, growing in the Lord and having the desire to serve Him. His unsaved parents have forbidden him to attend church, not even our Youth Fellowship. We would appreciate your prayer for Lou Guoyi – God can do it again, as He had done so in the life of Daniel Khoo!
“These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation… Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3: 7-11)
(Christ Our Head, Church Anniversary Magazine 2)
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