Bright-eyed Mrs Koh walked out the FGA office to greet me. Wrapped in a scarlet scarf, she beamed in her floral blouse, looking hardly her age of 80 years old.
“Hello! What coffee would you like? Choose your coffee!” said Mrs Koh with a contagious energy.
Led to her office room like a guest to her home, I sat down while Mrs Koh settled down to tell me her childhood memories.
Coming from a strong heritage of Christian family, Mrs Koh is a third-generation Christian.
Planting of a Rich Missionary Family Heritage Seed
Her grandfather came from China to Taiping to seek a job at the tin mines. There, he met two European missionaries, Mr and Mrs Marks, who not only served as missionaries at Taiping Gospel Hall and remarkably shared the gospel in Hokkien, but also became her grandparents’ spiritual parents.
“They were very closely knitted! When my father was young, Mr and Mrs Marks would visit and even look after my father when he was growing up. They were like grandparents to my father and he was even sent to an English school in Taiping- the King Edward School,” said Mrs Koh.
Her grandfather became such a faithful and passionate servant of the Lord that he would preach from house to house. The villagers would often say, “Look! Jesus man has now come!” And many came to know Christ through his grandfather who also served in the Taiping Gospel Hall.
So, the heritage of a godly family was brought down to Mrs Koh and her 11 siblings when her father got married and built a family together with her mother. She is the fifth child in her family, and the age difference between her eldest and youngest siblings is 17 years, born between 1924 and 1941.
“Mr and Mrs Marks would come regularly and put us on their laps and tell stories. They would show us love! We were taught from very young to keep close to the Lord,” said Mrs Koh.
And until now, all of her siblings are still fervent for the Lord. What a godly heritage! Mrs Koh’s eldest brother is an elder in the SS2 Gospel Center, her second brother is one of the founding elders of FGA KL, her fifth brother is the senior pastor of the River of Life Sanctuary and her sixth sister is the wife of Elder Dr. Ng Soon Gan, co- Chairman Elder of FGA KL. All her siblings, including Mrs Koh herself are serving the Lord! Not to mention, Mrs. Koh’s late husband, Elder Dr. Koh Eng Kiat was also a founding father of FGA KL.
The Lord is My Shepherd, I Lack Nothing!
“My mum and dad were very close to the Lord! We would go to church every Sunday and they would teach us Bible stories. Every night, they would gather us together to pray. My mum used to sing us English hymns when we go to sleep, while my grandmother used to sing her hymns in Chinese as a lullaby,” said Mrs Koh.
Mrs Koh’s parents were very good parents. And her siblings and her were also very obedient children.
“We often say, no lies, no lies,” chuckled Mrs Koh. “Also, when we were young, dad taught us to tithe to God. Mum would pack us lunch but we would also be given two cents to school. So, we would use one cent to buy cakes or anything, and the other cent, we would keep and save to give them to the Lord.”
Although they grew up in humble government quarters, Mrs Koh’s family was often generous and hospitable to anyone who needed a place to stay.
“My parents always opened the house for anyone who had no place to stay. One room was used for mum and dad with the babies, while the other room was for the older siblings. But when the family grew in number, we would lay our mats in the living room and sleep side-by-side together,” said Mrs Koh. “Eventually, an unused toilet had to be converted into a bedroom too!” she added.
She also recalled waking up one late night to a lady who took a bus all the way from Kuala Kangsar to seek refuge at her home. Mrs Koh’s mother was kind to offer the lady a place to stay.
“We had everything we needed and there was no jealousy. Everyone was contented and very close. We would walk to church together. But later, the oldest one got a bicycle, followed by the second sibling, and then the third… We were a very happy family,” said Mrs Koh.
Romance with Elder Koh in Christ
When Mrs Koh first met Elder Koh, the late founder of FGA KL, she was wary of him because he was not a Christian then.
“I was good friends with a girl in church and she introduced me to her brother who came from Singapore. I knew not to marry a non-Christian, so I prayed to God to take him away!” said Mrs Koh.
But when Elder Koh returned to Singapore, he accepted Christ in Bethesda Gospel Hall and they began a friendship by sending letters to each other. Elder Koh also corresponded with Mrs Koh’s father through letters for spiritual mentorship. “I think they sent each other more letters, than between him and me!” Mrs Koh said. And over a few years of friendship, Elder Koh’s respectable and genuine reputation as a Christian among the Elders in the Singapore church and also approval from Mrs Koh’s father eventually won over her hand in marriage in 1956.
“My father told me that he (Elder Koh) genuinely accepted Christ and that he is a very godly and good man,” said Mrs Koh.
Mrs Koh was teaching in a missionary school in Raub and Elder Koh was also a teacher then! There was no entertainment such as going for movies as now. All they did were going to school and church.
The Joy of the Lord is My Strength
Now, Mrs Koh at 80 years old is still joyfully and fervently serving the Lord. With nine granddaughters now ranging from 10 years old to 26 years old, she has also just recently passed over the leadership of the Children ministry to another leader.
“I love children very much! I had been in children ministry since I was 13 years old when my father was the superintendant of our Sunday school,” said Mrs Koh.
In a typical weekday, she would come to FGA KL with Mrs Ang, wife of Elder Ang Chui Lai, and would sometimes spend the first half of her day in FGA KL to pray with the Children Ministry staffs for the growth of the children. During her leisure time at home, she prefers to read and listen to hymns, her favourite album is Bill Gaither’s Homecoming Series. And on the weekends, she would stand at the door of the church during Sunday services to welcome people with a handshake.
“Oh! So many people coming to church! I am so happy,” said Mrs Koh.
When asked for her advice for women today, Mrs Koh advised women to honor God, go to church and fellowship with Christians.
“A godly woman is someone who loves the Lord and will do anything for Him! Will you serve Him and do anything for Him?” said Mrs. Koh, “God must come first. We were taught by my dad that God must come first.”
A godly family of heritage, God was very much alive in Mrs Koh’s family life since she was young, right until her marriage with Elder Koh.
“If both husband and wife love the Lord, then automatically, they would want to please God. Hence, it was never a problem for a wife to submit to her husband,” said Mrs Koh.
A woman with a lightness to her feet and mood, indeed she embodies Psalm 23:1-3:
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.
In fact, her vigor and passion for the Lord reminded me of Moses who led God’s people out of Egypt at 80 years old! May God bless Mrs Koh and all her children and grandchildren with the perpetuation of her rich godly heritage.
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