2 June 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
Pastor Raymond Lee lived a wild life. At seven years old, he lost his mother to cancer and his father abandoned him. Growing up like a vagabond under his older sister’s care, he grew up emotionally resilient with a strong drive for power and fame.
But he met and accepted Christ at 13 years old. And at 17 years old, he was even elected as a Scripture Union President who brought Christianity to Maxwell school, which was known then for its gangsters.
But come 18 years old, Raymond left his First Love to pursue the world.
“I am a very pragmatic person because I am a Chinese. I thought to myself at that time that Jesus can wait. Let me make my money first, live and enjoy a life without rules,” said Raymond.
So, like how Hong Kong movies depict the glorious ways of a thug’s lifestyle, he went through life drinking, smoking, illegal car racing, and living the life of a Casanova! He also knew the back lanes of getting fast money and became one of the pioneers in opening massage parlor chains in Malaysia. Without said, that came with money, power and sex.
Although he rubbed shoulders with some gangsters for protection, he also earned himself enemies who would indulge him in dangerous fights.
“My enemy would say how lucky I am to escape alive from fights. I was also fortunate in escaping from severe car accidents,” said Raymond. “So I knew that somehow, God was always there to shield me, although I have no personal relationship with God.”
He was also involved in gambling, which blew his fortune and tore many of his dear relationships.
“Gambling is from Hell and it destroys a family. Because of my ego, I was sucked into gambling because I wanted to win and show people that I am better,” said Raymond.
Nevertheless, he kicked the addiction and started his own business instead, which turned into a successful venture. But while he was one step away from public-listing his company, a professional conman cheated him.
“God allowed it to happen. My pride was hurt because I used to be a cocky man. My motto was, if Raymond cannot do it, nobody can,” said Raymond. “But God showed me without Him, I am a nobody.”
He could not forgive himself for his blindness and foolishness, which prompted him to question if fame and money were all that to life? In his depression, God sent him Christian businessmen who urged him to return to Christ and let go of his intention of taking revenge. So, Raymond let go of his wrath to the wrath and justice of God.
“My business was over. So, I told myself, there’s only one business I want to do now. And that is God’s business,” said Raymond who went to Bible College Malaysia for a four-year theological diploma.
Awhile later, he learned that the conman died of a heart attack suddenly during dinner. Indeed, we have a God of justice and wrath.
“I cannot do things half-way. If I want to do something, I go all the way out and do it with my whole heart,” he added.
When he completed his diploma, he felt that there were many people who needed Christ. Because he was a gambler before, he felt a burden to reach out to gamblers. Connecting with his old acquaintances who own gambling parlors, he began visiting them carrying the cloak of Jesus.
“Jesus sat down to dine with the sinners. If these people do not come to church, then we should bring the church to them,” said Raymond.
Sitting down on the gambling table, he would introduce himself as a pastor to the sniggering of the other mahjong players who were usually gangsters. But he would express his respect with gentleness for their views.
“Show your respect to them but don't be a sissy. Although they know that I am a pastor, I will not hesitate to whack them, if they choose to attack me,” chuckled Raymond.
So, holding the three other gamblers as captive audience, he would speak in their lingo on how he came to know God in his life and how they can also be saved.
“They (gangsters) asked me how can people like them be saved?” said Raymond. “I told them my Jesus is the Jesus who goes to Chow Kit road to be with the drug abusers, prostitutes and beggars. Jesus is for you.”
Surprisingly, they often see Christinity as a western religion made only for the English-educated people. But he spoke the gospel to them in Hokkien, Hakka and Cantonese to make the gospel relatable to them.
“Because I usually only catch them once to a few times, I would always teach them the ‘ABC’ sinner prayer before leaving,” said Raymond. “I told them that they don’t need to say it in front of me, but they can say it whenever they’re ready. Jesus would listen to them.”
A unique ministry, he would never find out whether his labor comes into fruition until he reached Heaven. For example, he recalled sharing the gospel at the gambling parlor with a young gangster five years ago. But six months after that, the young gangster was shot three times in the head, which was published in the newspaper. Raymond always wondered if the young man accepted Jesus.
Also, although Raymond is fully convicted with his ministry, he does not encourage anyone to follow his footsteps unless God specifically calls the person.
“I always cover myself with prayers. When you’re there (at the gambling parlor), you’re not only exposed to the physical risk of being beaten, but also the risk of being pulled into gambling,” said Raymond. “One has to be very close to Christ to do this.”
As for his advice for young people, he said, “Although I was a tough person emotionally and I wanted to conquer the world, I cannot beat the world’s system of money and sex. But what I want to tell is really to stay away from trouble and do not test temptations. Do not resist them and think you’re strong. That happened to me. Just run away because you will fail miserably.”
What precious advice from an adventurous vagabond who went through so much in life. And despite tasting the worldly pursuits, Pastor Raymond still find that the relationship with Jesus taste the sweetest of all.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
“Now, during my visits, people would asked me what gang I am from,” said Pastor Raymond Lee. “I tell them that I am from the Jesus’ gang.”
Amen. Are you from Jesus’ gang?
Lastly, like Pastor Raymond, would you also like to see and taste God's Goodness? Remember, with God, you will lack nothing.
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
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