Good morning and blessed new year to you all.
For the past few years, I have avoided thanksgiving and also church anniversary. It was very difficult to praise and worship God after what happened to my daughter. On 16 September last year, I sent out an email to the church members sharing what I went through after the passing of my daughter. I started writing it in the church camp, which is on 31 August. Now, I felt the need to release my testimony verbally, and not just in writing. As I open up myself more to God and to my spiritual family, I realised that God will touch me and use me even more.
I’m able to stand here to share because of prayers and God’s strength.
This is a photo of my daughter – Jemimah Teoh Shang Mei. She passed away on 24 February 2009, 56 days after her birth.
The first year was very tough. I seemed okay for the first week. I seemed strong. A lot of people (including my colleagues) saw that strength and told me that I’m strong. Everyone except myself seemed to think that I’ll be okay. They said I should be strong for my son. I went back to work as usual one week after my maternity leave. My main struggle was in taking care of my son - Jordan. I was still grieving and my emotions were not stable. For the first three months, I cried everyday. Then, it was every few days, and later, once a week and then about once a month.
I was very bitter and angry during the first year. I couldn’t and even refused to worship. Each time I listened to worship songs, I cried. At house church and congregational meetings, all I could do was cry during worship. At home, I would often shout and scream at my son. How could a loving God allow my daughter to be taken away from me? I refused breakthroughs. Why should I have breakthroughs? Why do I need breakthroughs? I was extremely negative. Even Bible verses did not sound encouraging. The Bible says this and that, so what? My heart was hardened and I didn’t even allow God to break it.
Throughout this time, I had support from the Church, friends and family. During the first month or so, the church prayed regularly for my faith. Selvi made desserts for me, and she would ask me to pick it from her house after work. It was something sweet to take away the bitterness. That year, the Chans didn't celebrate Ariel's first birthday. Their love was overwhelming. Every now and then friends took us out for meals. Due to all these prayers and support I have the strength to go through the shadow of the deep valley.
In the midst of all the pain, God surprised me on Jemimah’s first anniversary in 2010. I won a grand prize worth RM5000 from a dessert restaurant. I won the prize together with Seng Chor – We had to perform a lion dance, and we received the loudest applause from the crowd. I think it was partly because of Jordan as he was entertaining the crowd too. The prize included a trip to Bangkok which I went with three beautiful ladies – Chooi Kuan, Dolly and Selvi. They have been spending precious time with me on every anniversary. I felt that the grand prize was like a gift from my daughter. God wanted me to have wonderful and sweet memories of her anniversary.
In September 2010, I began to listen to worship songs again in the car. I was able to worship Him more without breaking down all the time.
In 2011 (second anniversary), four us – Chooi Kuan, Dolly, Selvi and myself met up again. I felt more peace as we prayed at the cemetery.
That year, our house church organised the church camp. I volunteered to prepare the programme booklet because I felt that I haven’t been doing much, and preparing the booklet is something that I would like to do. I went to the camp without expectations. But I wanted God to give me surprises, and He did. I didn’t really want to receive prayers but Selvi encouraged me go forward. As usual, I broke down. Chooi Kuan prayed for me, and I received the Father’s hug from Uncle Hok Seng. Then, after the prayer, I received another Father’s hug from Uncle Chris. There’s more to come. The most surprising thing was I received a prophecy from Pastor Tony Kim. He said I would be writing children’s curriculum. It was like written all over me. I will touch the nation. I was like, “Huh? How could it be? I am having so many problems with one kid and my daughter has passed away. How can I be writing children’s stuff?” I cried again after that. Anyway, I’m waiting for the prophecy to be fulfilled, and I do enjoy writing.
At house church on Sunday, I shared what I received in the camp. After I was prayed for, Uncle Wing Cheong gave me a hug. Then, I realised, all three Elders from ANC have hugged me. It was like getting hugs from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But was it complete? It was a start of more breakthroughs.
2012 – Third anniversary. There was a sense of beauty that I couldn’t describe as we stood at her grave.
Last year, I took more steps to move forward. Pastor Tony Kim was here again, and I was looking forward to hear from God again. I was more willing to be prayed for. What Tony saw in me was strength, a lot of strength. Because of this strength, I could go through what I went through. I acknowledge that this strength is from God. His strength is in me. I was pretty broken throughout the sessions with Tony. It’s okay to be broken and I was reminded by Uncle Chris that I can use my brokenness to reach out to others and encourage others.
Another major milestone last year was at the church camp at El Sanctuary, Malacca. I received new tongues on Saturday, 1 September 2012. I didn’t specifically ask for it but God knew it was something that I need to move up to the next level. One week later, I shared with my House Church, and I received further revelation from Isaiah 50:4 (NIV) -
4 The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
It was released by Selvi, and before the end of last year, she received and released it to me again but with an additional words – magnifying glass to see. For me, it’s also new perspective to see things from God’s view.
God has been leading people (friends, students, ex-students, colleagues) for me to minister and encourage, and He is equipping me with His Words too. I’ve read that the primary role of the servant (spoken in Isaiah) is to pay special attention to the "weary," those who are in desperate need of a word of encouragement and support, those perhaps on the margins of society who are neglected and are in danger of being forgotten. This role of listener and right speaker is given by God to the servant "morning by morning" (i.e. again and again).
That’s my calling for this season of time. I’m learning to fulfil this calling day by day. I need to walk in obedience to God as advised by Elder Hok Seng, “Don't let your ministering or warring angels hang around waiting too long doing nothing, LIVE the normal risk-taking Christian life and you will set aflame the angels to do the bidding for the Lord.”
What I received recently for myself is “No Turning Back’. It was not an easy journey to where I am now, and I don’t want to lose what I’ve gained. I will continue to move forward and look up to God.
In closing, I want to say that I’ve learned that every grief is different. There must be no expectation on the person who’s grieving. Do allow God to work in their person. Give them space and time, but please don’t forget them. Love them unconditionally because God is doing something wonderful in them.
I want to thank my Beit Parach family for walking with me. Thank you for your love and patience. At times, my behaviour and mood were really unacceptable, and I apologise for that. I thank the intercessors - Elishas and Elijahs for welcoming me back to the family. It’s an honour to serve and be served.
I want to honour, praise and glorify God for all that He has done. He is worthy of our praise and worship.