Gurmit Singh, age 50 years old, is a man popularly known for his comedic role, “Phua Chu Kang” (a Chinese Ah Beng), who acted in a sitcom many Singaporeans and Malaysians grew up watching. His humorous role made him a lovable and memorable television character that many are able to relate to til this very day. As I fondly recall his role as Phua Chu Kang, I immediately envision his outrageous curly hair, the huge mole on his face, and the big yellow boots he used to wear as he stomped around with a humongous smile.
Deep down in the core of his soul however is man who will never forget his past, not because he had unsettled issues, but because him and his family lived a difficult life (one where he could almost feel his heart getting ripped off); one which he managed to break out of due to God’s grace upon his life.
On the 3rd of October 2015, Gurmit Singh graced Grace Convention Centre, Petaling Jaya, where he shared his heart warming testimony to all who came to witness (amounting to more than a thousand). “I am so blessed and so grateful to God. I’m sharing this story so you can know why we Christians love our God so much! I think the word “love” is the most misunderstood word ever in man-kinds history, you will know a glimpse of it when you know Jesus Christ” he shared.
He began telling his story of how he was brought up in a very poor family; one so poor that his family would get him school clothes a number of sizes bigger, so that he could eventually grow into them, without it cutting off his blood flow too soon. He recalls wearing socks full of holes and totally worn out shoes because his family could not afford anything new. “My family would go to Kentucky Fried Chicken once a year, during Deepavali just to enjoy fried chicken” said Gurmit.
“I have two younger sisters, one is two years younger than me while the other is four years younger than me. My father had to work two jobs to make ends meet. He used to work as a security guard at a bank (during the daytime) and once he was done he would go to another bank where he worked as a guard as well (during the night). When he finished, he would go back to the other bank again” he shared. Gurmit hardly had time with his dad because he would always be occupied with work, his father could no afford not be occupied as he had a family to feed.
Meanwhile, his mother worked a lot too. Sometimes in the morning his mother would babysit children but her full-time job was at a hawker center where she worked until wee hours of the night. “By the time she came back home, it would be 12 midnight, but she would still do several house chores after coming home. Moreover, she would even cook for the family for the next day. To me, this was unbelievable strength” he shared. Gurmit was amazed that his mother hardly fell sick, even when she did, it would be during her day off. “I think she was one of those people who needed to work to not fall sick” he jokingly said.
Now, panadol was his mother’s cure for everything. However one day, according to Gurmit, his mother came back home with a stomach pain and like clockwork, she’d take her usual Panadol to ease the pain. This time however, to no avail, and so after a few days she went to a stomach specialist.
“They performed blood test and x-rays. I was there with my mom when they gave her the results, we found out that she had a stage four cancer of the stomach,” he shared. Stage four was the last stage of cancer, which in medical terms meant that she didn’t really have a fighting chance. The doctor even went further to say that, “Your mother will die in six months,” said Gurmit. He was furious when the doctor broke the news to him! He was appalled at the fact that the doctor would say such a thing! “She is the strongest woman in the world! How can you say that?!” he thought to himself.
And so, his mother went for radiotherapy and chemotherapy as recommended by the doctor. “She had to go through the side effects of losing all her hair and even had ulcers in her mouth; she was in a lot of pain. She got weaker and weaker until she became bed ridden. She tried Chinese sensei, bomoh, and every other medicine she could find but nothing worked. It was very painful for me to see,” he shared.
At the same time, Gurmit found out his sisters had become Christians through a Bible study class that they took up in school. He was angry because he knew it would upset his father who despised the thought of Christianity; his father would consider Christianity as white man’s religion. Gurmit lectured his sisters! He remembers saying, “So you think this Jesus Christ is so powerful? Ask Him to come here now! I’m not scared of this Jesus Christ. Son of God? Please lah!”, said Gurmit as he admittedly mentioned that he used to be an angry boy growing up.
“Of course my sisters didn’t do anything about it, but what they did next was very brave because they went to my mother and said, “Can we invite a pastor to pray for you?” he shared. At that point, his mother agreed with his sisters, there was nothing to lose. And so, when the pastor came to visit his mother, he was firm and immediately told Gurmit’s mother that there is a difference between Jesus Christ and Santa Claus. “The difference is with Jesus, there is no list, one only needs to surrender to Him and allow Him to take care of it because He knows what’s best for you, and He will do the best for you” he recalls the pastor saying.
That very day, his mother said the sinner’s prayer and became a Christian. “The next thing that happened was my sisters came to me and did another brave thing,” he said. They were brave enough to invite Gurmit to an evangelical event in the national stadium. “For some strange reason, I found myself saying “Okay, let’s go.”
There he heard a powerful and eloquent message, he even witnessed miracles he could not explain. “People who were paralyzed stood up and moved around but most of all I heard a voice and that voice said, “Would you like to be my child?” So I knelt down, I said the sinners prayer and I became a Christian,” said Gurmit.
While reading the Bible one day, he stumbled upon a Bible scripture according to Matthew 7:7 which cited, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”. Upon seeing that verse, he had a light bulb moment and immediately went to a corner, knelt down and prayed to God.
Gurmit reminded God of the promise He made in that verse and pleaded to God, asking God if He wouldn’t mind letting his mother live a little bit longer. “…because I know that she is waiting for me to settle down and continue the name of the family since I am the only son and the eldest. My mother loves babies,” he recalls saying, as he poured his heart to God. Though he was a fairly new Christian at that point in time, and didn’t really know how to pray, nevertheless he spoke from his heart.
“Subsequently, my mother had to go back to the clinic to do more x-rays to find out how much more the disease was spreading. At that time, the doctor sat them down and said, “I do not know what you are doing, but whatever you are doing please continue to do so because the cancer is gone! I’m sorry I cannot explain but we call this a miracle of God.” And so from then on, Gurmit’s mother who was supposed to die in six months’ time, lived up to sixteen years!
Gurmit Singh became a Christian in the year 1985. His story of how he came to know Christ shows us all, that no matter how difficult life is, God has a plan for each and everyone of us.
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