Bob and Melissa Seong have a strong marriage – not without thorns and briers – but it was through their struggle of staying and paying RM700,000 debt together that pulled them tighter.
Three months after their marriage, Bob found himself cheated by his partner, resulting in the loss of his six and a half acre land and company car.
In the same year, his father passed away due to a heart attack. And his mother who chaired a communal bank (called kutu) racked up a debt of RM700,000 following the abscondence of some members.
Yet, it was during this time that Melissa’s faith grew leaps and bounds. At one time, the home pressure escalated so much that she had to leave the house for two weeks for peace sake. At that time, she made up her mind to stick to her marriage, no matter what.
Bob also was torn between pleasing his wife and his mother, not knowing to believe in Jesus Christ or honor his mother by following her ancestral worship.
The pressure at home was so great that the couple would often quarrel and this in turn pushed Bob away from the Christian faith, so much so he declared one day that he was never going to step into the church.
Hearing her husband, Melissa’s spirit was crushed. She believed that breakthrough would only come into the family business if they walked as one in Christ.
During one day of her lonely walk with God, she cried out to God at two in the morning. Standing at her window before the soft breeze that blew into her bedroom, she asked God to help her marriage.
Suddenly, words rolled out from her tongue, “I forgive my earthly father”. And she collapsed on her knees in tears. Melissa suffered rejection due to a neglected childhood. Named as “Chuan”, which means change in Hokkien, she was named for the sole purpose of fulfilling a superstition that the next child will be a boy, after six girls in the family.
Since then, she felt that a huge stone was rolled away. Her countenance changed to a gentle and quiet spirit. Instead of pestering Bob, she began to pray. And before her anniversary, Bob told her that he actually knew who the real God is despite his idol-worshiping.
At that time, Bob would still visit different gods and mediums. At one time, he even attempted to engage a medium to offer him lottery numbers, and prepared cigarette or pork and beer for the spirits. But Melissa prayed for the spirit to leave, causing the medium to give up trying.
Hence, in 1988, Bob finally accepted Jesus Christ in a church camp at Cameron Highland. To him, Jesus was just another god among the many gods he was already worshiping.
Now, as husband and wife, Bob and Melissa can truly walk as one in Christ. They would often pray together to God in the car during their business trips with only enough money for gas.
To pay his debt, Bob has still five and a half acres of land from his father. It is a do-or-die business because this land – which is located between Kuala Lipis and Benta – is a no man land. Yet in faith, they built houses on this land.
By the time they launched the properties, every house was sold off! Not only were they able to pay off their debt by giving houses for free to the debtors, they were able to gain their first capital.
Although no legal documents were signed in the communal bank, Bob and Melissa kept to their word to repay all the members.
In fact, the stress in paying the debt was so great that they did not have children for five years. Bob was worried that he could not raise a family due to debt. And Melissa, having a neglected or rejected childhood before, feared of not being able to raise a family.
These fears were concealed even from themselves, until a pastor revealed to them of their underlying cause of infertility. After repentance to God and prayer by the pastor, Melissa had her first child. This was a fulfillment of a prophesy made during her infertility that she would have a child who looks fair, chubby, and cheerful.
Even in their church life, the couple struggled. Their church became increasingly small as young people migrate to the city, followed by their parents. Eventually, they had no church to go to.
Because her children had no Sunday school to go to, Melissa would teach her children the direct application of God’s Word whenever she comes across a situation. Bob will constantly uphold the kids in prayer. And all issues – personal and business – were shared and discussed openly on the business table.
They would also invite pastors and missionaries to stay in their home and hold a church service at their home whenever they visit. This follows their strong suit in hospitality, which is in hotelier and also property development.
Each child was discipled one-by-one by Bob’s and Melissa’s words and most importantly, deeds and actions, during the economic recession.
In one of the economic recession for example, the couple were feeling spiritually dry until God brought them a group of pastors who ran the Homecoming gathering.
It was in these gatherings they learned to wait upon God, so much so that Bob even encountered Jesus. Praying on his knees, he saw Jesus walked towards him and said to him, “I am well pleased.” God heard his desire of wanting to experience Him.
The couple felt so uplifted from the conference that they decided to start a church service at home, drawing up to 40 people at one point. They had their service in English, Chinese and Bahasa, before shifting to a hotel and then finally releasing their multiplied church into their respective ministry of Chinese and Sabahan.
Today, Bob and Melissa are still running church at their home with a businessman and his wife, and their cleaner with her four children. They will share the Word while the children serve in praise and worship and children’s ministry (Sunday school and piano classes).
Like brick and sand – which were the early business of Bob and Melissa – the couple is truly inseparable now, having built their family on the rock of Christ.
Their eldest son is named Jeriel after foundation in the Bible, to signify how the family was built on the principles and ways of God.
Their second son was named Gabriel after strength, to remind them how God was their strength during the 1995 economic crisis.
Their third son was named Zuriel after rock, to remind them how God promised to get them out of the miry clay and put them on the rock.
Their daughter is named Adriel after honor in the Bible, to remind how God reminded her to honor her mother-in-law, by paying her debts.
Their company is named after the Bible, called Living Stones.
Hence, Bob and Melissa Seong’s marriage stood strong today, not because they have less struggles and sorrows than anyone. But because they have decided in their hearts to stick to each other and to God, no matter what.
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