26 July 2014 by Adeline Lum CM –
John Sham held the rare combination of being a jet fighter pilot and a worship artiste at the same time. One would not imagine how John could go from singing to flying at the speed of sound.
But with God, everything is possible!
Growing up wanting to reach the sky since young, John recalled wanting to be an astronaut. At seven years old, he told his school teacher, “If you aim to be an astronaut, the lowest you fall is to the sky.”
As he turned 11 years old, he still wanted to reach the sky. But this time, he aspired to be a jet fighter pilot, a highly sought after and competitive position in the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).
Hence, at 19 years old after completing his Form Six, John applied for and went for an interview to be an Air Force Pilot. Although he got through the interview with flying colors, the acceptance letter for training strangely never came.
At that time, John was working part-time as a pub singer, musician, and disc jockey. Not surprising since music ran his veins; his mother was a country singer, and his aunties and uncles were all musicians. Since young, he was a native to singing competitions on-stage.
But never did he think he would be a weekly worship singer in a church environment. Clapping hands, a ubiquitous practice in charismatic churches, was odd to him.
“Singing was my passion, something I really like to do. I would occasionally sing in church for Christmas carols and Sunday choir. But the passion is not much of singing in church. It’s more like a duty. I was more passionate singing in the outside world,” said John.
However, because singing required a band, John eventually steered into becoming a professional disc jockey (DJ), a profession that began at 17 years old. He would perform in one of the hottest discotheque in Perak operated by Juliana’s of London; Palm Groove, during then besides performing in several reputable clubs in Kuala Lumpur such as Renaissance Discotheque and Phase II. In the morning, he would be going to school. But at night, he would work as a DJ.
So, how did he go from singing to flying?
One night while he was working as a DJ, he happened to know a customer who is an Army General. Conversations struck as the General requested for particular songs, which John played for him. At that time, John was an established DJ, having won many national and international DJ competitions. He was even offered to go to the United States and the United Kingdom to cut albums with renowned rap artistes.
As they conversed, John found out that the General was in town for a selection board, with his team to interview potential Air Force pilot candidates! Excited, John began talking to the General about fighter jets, which impressed him.
As the conversation picked up, he finally got to know that John had also passed a similar selection board a year ago but he was never called for training. After hearing this, the General told John that he would investigate what went wrong. The results never came back, but God had much better news for John. He received a call a few days later from the General’s staff asking him if he was still interested to join the RMAF and would like to offer him to join only the final phase of selection. John accepted the offer, passed the retest, and was finally accepted into the RMAF Officer Cadet Training School to become an officer and fighter pilot.
“I only prayed once in church, a simple prayer, ‘Dear Lord Jesus, please help me to become a fighter pilot.’
“You see how God works? God works after that. It was amazing how God answered my prayers three years after the interview. You may not get it then and there. But you got to believe and put your full trust in God. It’s really amazing how the kind and thoughtful General miraculously found my missing file again,” said John.
Becoming A Pilot
Although he joined the RMAF at an older age, 22 years old, John was more mature with an entertainment background.
“Sometimes, we put God in a box; we must meet the person in a church or in a distinguished building. Not necessarily… God knows miraculous ways,” said John.
But entering the Air Force is only the first step from becoming a jet fighter pilot. Amongst the 40 students in cadet school, John was among the 25 people to be selected to enter the flying school, becoming either a transporter pilot, helicopter pilot or jet fighter pilot!
Fighter pilots are usually selected from the best of the best, the cream of the crop. To become a jet fighter pilot, he had to earn his place as the top five best students in the flying school.
John prayed to God for a prestigious instructor to teach him, which God answered by sending him an instructor from Australia. But alas! Half way through the course, the instructor returned to Australia and John had to cope with the new ‘instructor’.
Things suddenly became extremely tough and at times, he felt like calling it quit but he told himself, “Never give up!” Because John had to cope with these challenges, he was number ten in his batch, a far cry from achieving his dream.
Looking at his results, the chief examiner was astonished with his results and offered him a reexamination because John did not seem to know the key things about his flight exercises. Praise the Lord! But even after taking the second exam, John ended up only as number six.
“I thought there goes my chance. My examiner came and asked me, ‘John, do you know you’re number six?’ I said to him, ‘I know… but I still wanted to fly a fighter aircraft.’ He asked me the same question again, I was determined, and I said yes,” said John.
Things looked dim at first, but on graduation day his name was among those announced as jet fighter pilots, even at the sixth position. This is because on that particular year, the government procured new fighter jets, thus the RMAF required an extra fighter candidate which was six instead of five.
“God has set that destiny (to become a fighter jet pilot) for me because of a simple prayer I did. If prayer can do so much, I believe praise and worship can do more. At that time, that’s all I knew, which that simple prayer is,” said John whose sincere heart of prayer, God saw.
“What is even more amazing is not only God led John to his flying career through music; He led John to his wife through music as well.
Life As An Airforce Pilot
Training in Butterworth Air Base later in as a fighter pilot, an instructor came to class one day announcing that his hotel manager friend in Sungai Petani urgently needed a DJ and emcee for the upcoming Malaysian Beauty Pageant.
Due to John’s entertainment background, everyone recommended John to replace the absent celebrity DJ for only one night. But after the successful first event, the manager wanted John to continue with the whole event until grand finals.
“I saw many attractive contestants and I was typing out the list of names when my colleague came to tease me, ‘You are still a bachelor right? You never know, one of these ladies could be your future wife.’ I told my friend, ‘Maybe I’ll go tackle this girl with an Indian name,” said John.
This beautiful girl turned out to be his wife later, where they got married and have a child at their first operational Air Base in Labuan. How amazing is the hands of God!
“Ever since, every course I take, may it be in flying or academics, I have always been the top in every class. I believe the reason for me as I said I got number six, why not other numbers? That’s because God wants to show me His Hand.
“I believe with all my heart its God because only He can do things like that. It’s never normal. Things that are abnormal become normal. Things that are extraordinary become ordinary.
“Of course, there are ups and downs. God doesn’t guarantee a smooth-sailing path but He assures victory at the end of every challenge,” said John.
And as a child of God, John always had a knack of dreaming big and believing he could achieve.
God did not just bring John Sham’s dream of being a pilot into reality, but took him to further victory along that road. Read about the goodness and power of God in the next part of John’s testimony.
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