March 25 2013 by James Hoh CM –
Blinded since his teenage days, David Gip who leads the Agape Fellowship for the Blind, found a new lease of life when he stepped into a church concert one day. He recalls his journey of darkness in an interview with me.
“At first I complained to my mom about my severe headache when I was about twelve. I thought it was a daily ‘thing’ but after sometime it seemed that my eyesight was affected. When I copied notes I saw the words wrongly,” David Gip said in an interview at his office.
He said his eyesight started to get bad when he was about 12. “They called it ‘good partial’; although I could see partially, I seemed to knock into things in school and had problem coming down the staircase,” he said.
“I thought it was the glare, so the optician gave him a pair of glasses to correct what they thought was astigmatism.”
David, who was then staying in Ipoh, used to go out playing basketball tournaments until his eyesight worsened. He had difficulties seeing the ball even with his glasses on.
“The ball kept hitting my face or my chest. I realize something had gone very wrong. My parents panicked,” he continued.
My Stunning Discovery
The doctor from the family clinic showed more interest in his case. Not an eye specialist, but he could tell that David had Retinitis Pigmentosa.
“I came out of the doctor’s room first as the doctor needed to explain to my mother what Retinitis Pigmentosa is all about,” he added.
Definition of RP:
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) refers to a group of inherited disorders that slowly leads to blindness due to abnormalities of the photoreceptors (primarily the rods) in the retina.
“But when my mother came out of the doctor’s room, she didn’t want to talk to me. I was curious and kept insisting on knowing what the doctor had told her.
“My mom suddenly broke her silence and also broke down emotionally. She didn’t explain much. All she said was, ‘I will take you to the best doctors and you will be well!” David said, tears flowing down his cheeks.
David said things weren’t getting any better after visiting specialists from Penang and Singapore.
“Some of them took only five minutes to see me and we were out of their rooms. My parents weren’t rich yet they spent so much for me,” he said.
“At times I purposely walked on a straight line to show that I was getting better just to please my mom. But as reality set in, my eyesight was getting worse by the day.
“In class, I had to walk in front of the black board and stand there to copy notes. I borrowed notes all the time until my classmates were curious, wondering what was happening to me. They were thinking that I was lazy! I was very embarrassed because of this,” he said.
David added he struggled very hard to finish his SPM but it was during the trail exams that his condition became even worse.
“I used a flash light to work on my exam paper but I couldn’t finish it. My hope of completing SPM was crushed as I could not see anymore.” He said, still crying as he recollected that missed opportunity.
He was in despair until his cousin told him about a special programme for the blind in Kuala Lumpur. His cousin applied successfully for him to learn Braille to continue his studies and learn how to walk with a stick.
David’s father was reluctant to let him go to Kuala Lumpur but David knew that he had to move on with life.
Choir That Changed My Life Forever
Just before he came to Kuala Lumpur, his sister’s friend who is a Christian invited him to a musical night presentation at Canning Garden Methodist Church, Ipoh. That was his first time stepping in a church.
“It was just choir singing and music but the presentation was so wonderful. There were many youths there and after the service they came to me. I felt so loved.
“Even though there was no message or altar calls made, my heart was already opened as I found joy in that place. That night I told my mom about the wonderful service I attended and I told her that I wanted to go to church. My mom did not object to my decision. Praise the Lord!” he said.
David said some of these youths that he came to know then still come from Ipoh and take him out for ‘makan’.
Learning to Live My New Life
“Learning mobility and holding a stick was a real challenge for me because I was a sport person before. I represented my school in basketball and did running during my primary school years. So the moment I held the stick I felt very strange and embarrassed,” he added.
“I remember one day when I was walking pass a bus-stop, I heard people said, ‘Tepi, tepi bagi orang buta lalu’. They meant well but whenever I heard them referring me as ‘orang buta’, I felt I was in a different category, a blind person. I couldn’t accept that at first. I used to be a sports person but now an ‘orang buta’.
“But after so many years, I have slowly accepted this reality. It is not an issue for me now,” He laughed.
A Happy Man
David today is a happy man. “Serving God and the community give me a new lease of life. Despite my disability, I’m happy that I am still able to serve and help those who are weaker than me,” he continued.
“Some people may have lost their eyesight; some may have lost their limbs or face whatever disadvantage that life brings. But life has to move on.”
David is married with two lovely children – a girl and a boy. He serves full-time in AGAPE Fellowship for the Blind and plays the synthesizer for Japanese Church Malaysia.
Occasionally, he goes on mission in a team to Penang, Perak, East Malaysia and Singapore to share his testimony.
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