This testimony is based on the one given by the late Tay Hian Siak in April 2007. Uncle Tay, as he was popularly known, was born on October 16,1925 and was baptized on December 17, 2000. In January 2006, Uncle Tay was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
In this testimony (delivered by his son, Tay Teck Kiang, as Uncle Tay’s voice box had been removed), Uncle Tay recounts his conversion and the grace he received. Although his physical time on earth was running out, he fought a good spiritual fight. Although cancer had taken away his voice, he wanted to “speak” straight from his heart to, in his own words, “share with [everyone] some of my miraculous experiences after coming to the True Jesus Church.”
ENTERING THE FOLD
I joined the church at the age of seventy-five. Actually, I had long wanted to be a Christian but often dropped the idea because of the Ten Commandments. Whenever I thought of the words, “Thou shall not do this and that…” I remembered that I had done this and that before and I felt I was still going to do this and that! I had broken so many commandments; I did not even dare to go to church. However, after I retired at the age of seventy, I gave serious thought to going to church. I had wasted so many years and time was running out for me. I decided to visit my son’s church to have a look. Not long after I made that resolution, my son actually invited me to attend a special service at the True Jesus Church in Adam Road. This was in June 1999.
I continued to attend services after that, as I enjoyed the singing and found the people very friendly. In addition, the air-conditioned chapel was nice and cool! After about a year and a half, I was baptized along with my friend, Eddie, who had been regularly attending services with me.
RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
For a period of time after I had started attending services but had not yet received baptism, I could hardly concentrate in prayer. Whenever I closed my eyes to pray, all sorts of images flashed through my mind and distracted me. Doubts assailed me as I wondered if there really is such a thing as the Holy Spirit. So many members were praying in tongues, but it seemed impossible for me to receive the Holy Spirit. I wanted to be in the midst of the flock, but I felt like a lost sheep because I still did not have the Holy Spirit.
I started wondering whether my failure to receive the Holy Spirit was because I did not know the right way to pray or the right words to say. One day, a deacon said, “If you do not know how to pray, just say, ‘Hallelujah’ and your prayers will be answered.” I was happy and surprised to hear that. How did the deacon know that I had been looking for an answer to this question? From then on, I just said “Hallelujah” during my prayers, and I was no longer distracted by images in my mind.
After baptism, I resolved to change and avoid sin. I knew that receiving the Holy Spirit would help me, but I had not received it even after praying for it for more than one year prior to baptism. Two days after my baptism, during the prayer at the Tuesday evening service, I suddenly began to speak in tongues. I was trying to say, “May God help me”, but before I could finish saying the words, I couldn’t control my tongue anymore. Tears of joy filled my eyes as warmth flowed from my head to my shoulders. I was ecstatic. I knew I had received the Holy Spirit. It was a wonderful feeling that I had never experienced before. I was so happy that I could not sleep the entire night!
Despite my joy and excitement, I was not entirely confident that I had received the Holy Spirit. When my wife was not at home, I decided to try and see if I could still pray in tongues. When I knelt down and prayed, the tongues came easily. I needed no further proof that I had indeed received the Holy Spirit.
RENEWED AND STRENGTHENED
Receiving the Holy Spirit changed my life. I used to be a very critical person, but I gained the strength to change this characteristic. I used to gamble, sometimes staying up until midnight. I also attended dinners organized by idol worshippers to commemorate the Chinese “Ghost Festival”. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I stopped gambling and attending gatherings during pagan holidays. I was amazed that I was able to cut myself off so abruptly and absolutely. I faced a lot of criticism from my friends due to my decisions. Losing some of these old friends saddened me, but God provided a few hundred new friends—my brothers and sisters in Christ.
In June 2004, I was diagnosed with throat cancer. The recommended treatment for me was a major eight hour long operation, followed by thirty radiation therapy sessions. Surgery comprised removing my voice box and opening a small hole in my throat for breathing. I was shocked and worried after learning of my diagnosis and treatment. For a few nights after I learned the news, I lay wide awake thinking about this. During one sleepless night, it suddenly occurred to me that I should just pray to God and let nature take its course. After all, there was no alternative. I prayed day and night and subsequently was able to sleep more peacefully. Moreover, I was able to accept what was happening to me. After all, good things must come to an end, and we have to live with “the days of darkness” (Eccl 11:8).
On the day of my surgery, I was worried and anxious. The idea of reciting Psalm 23 came to me, and even though it was something that I had only seen in a movie, I decided to try to calm myself this way. I repeated Psalm 23 over and over until I was anesthetized. When I woke up, I was delighted to find out that the surgery had gone well. I immediately prayed and thanked God for His mercy. I also had a wonderful feeling that my faith in God had grown much stronger. After two weeks of recovery, I was discharged from the hospital. It was then time to start my radiation therapy. I thought it would be a breeze, but the doctor warned me that I might lose my appetite or develop a bad sore throat. Hearing this did not worry me because I knew that all I had to do was pray hard to God with all my heart. As it turned out, I really had no problems taking my meals. My doctor was extremely surprised that I was fine and did not experience severe side effects from radiation. I thank God for hearing my prayers and allowing me to complete six weeks of radiation therapy with only some mild side effects.
After completing treatment, I rested at home for four months before I started attending church services again. I wept during the first few prayers because I could no longer pray out loud in tongues. I also missed singing hymns with the rest of the members, which I had enjoyed very much. But still, I was very thankful for the mercy of God. I resumed a normal and active life after completing my radiation therapy, and I only needed monthly check-ups. I continued to play table tennis at church every Thursday, and went out like any other healthy person. I spent the year 2005 much like I had before my cancer diagnosis, but with an increased awareness of God’s love and mercy and a more mature faith.
STEADFAST THROUGH TRIALS
In January 2006, I was told that cancer cells had spread to my lungs. Although I was prepared for this possibility, I did not expect it to happen so quickly. For the next three months, the oncologist gave me oral chemotherapy medication. But because it was ineffective, he told me that I would have to undergo intravenous chemotherapy. To make matters worse, a cataract was affecting my eyesight. So on May 8, 2006, I underwent eye surgery prior to commencing chemotherapy treatment. During the operation, a blood vessel in my eye burst, which caused a blood clot that affected my eyesight. The surgeon said it would take at least six months for my eye to recover completely. Amazingly, when I went back to see him two weeks later, he told me that my eye was completely healed. He, a non-Christian, said, “Your God must have heard your prayers!” My intravenous chemotherapy treatment started on May 15. Each session involved a blood test followed by one and a half hours of chemotherapy injection. I was scheduled to undergo eighteen chemotherapy sessions, but after the fifteenth session, the oncologist stopped the treatment because it was causing my legs to swell.
In November, the doctor told me that the cancer cells had grown and asked me to start on another chemotherapy cycle with a different drug. This time, I was really sad and worried, thinking about the pain and additional side effects. I could not sleep because I kept wondering whether I should proceed with the treatment. So I asked God to have mercy on me. What a preacher once said to me came to my mind, “Uncle, you don’t have to worry, for God is in you. He will decide for you. You just do what you have to do.” Reassured by this thought, I decided to start on the new chemotherapy. However, the CT scan taken after three sessions of chemotherapy showed that the drug was ineffective, and so, the treatment was discontinued. The oncologist told me that there was nothing more that could be done. The only solution left was to pray for the cancer cells to spread slowly.
During this period of sickness, there were many times when I asked God why He put me through such sufferings. But throughout all of this, I have learned to have more faith in God and to trust in Him, and it seems that my fears and pains have become increasingly easy to bear. While I used to wonder if I was really good enough to go to heaven, I now often look forward to going to heaven. I have lived a good life, and I am ready to face death. I would like to encourage those who are in sickness to have more faith in God and let Him decide for you. Read 1 Peter 4:15-16 and you will find it easier to overcome the sadness and pain in you. May God bless you and lead you to find the true God.
Although he was confined to bed in the last three months of his life, Uncle Tay experienced no pain and rested peacefully in the Lord on August 26, 2008.