Poh Kok Kian grew up in the outskirts of Melaka town. His parents were migrants from Southern China and followed Chinese Taoist traditions. The seventh out of eight children, Kok Kian did not follow in his parents’ beliefs.
“I never believed there was a God or in ghosts,” he said. “People talked about it, but I was more technically oriented.” Staying away from anything of the spiritual nature, Kok Kian found his interests in the sciences.
“When I was in high school, I played with radio transistors and made my own transistor radio. My dream was to work in something along those lines.” His father was a hard man who worked a farm, and taught his children to work hard as well.
Knowing that his family couldn’t afford for him to go to university, Kok Kian applied for Technical College after his SPM, hoping to get a scholarship with RTM. However, he received a scholarship from FELDA to study in College Agriculture and enrolled there before he received news that he had also been accepted for the RTM scholarship for Technical College.
At that time, his mother had just passed away and so, unable to make a decision whether or not to switch colleges, he remained where he was even though he had gotten the scholarship he originally hoped to get.
“I have no regrets,” he said. “I learned a lot in the three years in the College of Agriculture.” He went through a job training, then received a scholarship from the US government to study in Hawaii. There, he completed his bachelors degree and got his masters degree as well.
Kok Kian met a Taiwanese girl while in Hawaii, got married, and came back to Malaysia with his family where he worked with FELDA. “I was posted in the FELDA Agricultural Research Center in Pahang and was head of research, but because of the distance, I decided to change jobs.” Before he even completed the scholarship contract, he paid off his debt to the government and joined a consulting firm.
He eventually embarked on an entrepreneur development project in Sabah. “That’s when things began to change in my life. I was so focused on the project that I neglected my family.” Before they returned to Malaysia from Hawaii, Kok Kian and his wife had had talked about returning to the US some day to pursue their PhD.
However, he had a change of heart, and his wife did not. So she left. She took the kids (a girl and a boy) for a year, but then, unable to handle single parenthood and her studies, they agreed to have the children live with Kok Kian.
In 1983, Kok Kian left Sabah to come back to Petaling Jaya where he lived with his two children. Around that time, Kok Kian began having health and financial problems. “I had severe backaches. I tried all kinds of remedies—surgery, alternative medication—nothing worked.” One day a friend took him to go to seek healing in a temple in Port Klang.
This temple was a little different in that it was one that worshipped a universal religion. It was filled with hundreds of symbols of all kinds of gods including Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Indian gods and Chinese gods. “I was still an atheist and didn’t believe, but because of my health problems, I just went,” Kok Kian said.
As he stood there, he was told to start chanting while they played some Hindu music. “And I started dancing,” he recalled. “I was just dancing the Hindu dance with the music, just like an expert dancer. My hands and body were moving and I didn’t feel any pain. I kept dancing and dancing.” After some time, he was able to stop. He felt better, went home, and slept.
A few days later, he went back to the temple. The same thing happened, but this time it happened really quickly. “I was possessed,” he said. “I couldn’t control myself. I danced until I was so tired that I just collapsed on the floor.”
The next morning, while engaging in some Qi Gong exercises, which involved meditation, he started dancing—right there in his living room. “My hair stood. I knew something was wrong and I tried controlling it.” He stopped meditating, but this went on for the next few days.
So he contacted a friend who had been sharing with him about Jesus. He had even given him a Bible. His friend explained the spiritual realm to him and brought him to church. “That was the time when I totally changed my view,” Kok Kian said. “I truly believed that there was another world somewhere. There are spirits, and there is a God.”
“It was my turning point,” he said. “Because of that encounter, I was scared, but at the same time, it helped me realize that there is a spiritual world, and there is a God who is in control.” After attending church for a few months, he attended a talk about spiritual warfare by Bishop Hwa Yong who was then the principal of the Seminari Theology Malaysia (STM), and Bishop Hwa Yong prayed for him. “Subsequently, everything was gone. I was cleared of it.”
Kok Kian accepted Christ and got baptized, but continued on as a nominal Christian. His children left home and went overseas to study, and Kok Kian remarried in 2002. Yok See, his wife, was a staunch Buddhist at that time, and although he felt guilty, he is grateful that she is a strong believer today. Being a devoted wife, she followed him to church and learned things over time. Many people were also praying for her. “God has turned things around,” Kok Kian said.
In 2007, Kok Kian was hospitalized for a kidney stone that got lodged in his ureter tube. “I was in delirium,” he said. The infection had led to blood poisoning and was affecting his entire body. “I knew I was screaming, but I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know where I was. I thought it must be a bad dream. I must be sleeping somewhere, but nobody could hear me and I couldn’t wake up.”
The nurses needed to send him for some tests, but didn’t know what to do because he wouldn’t stop screaming. So they asked his wife and their cell group member to help calm him down. They prayed over him, and right after the prayer, he stopped screaming. They managed to get him stabilized, and several hours later, he recovered.
“While I was stabilizing in the hospital, I had another [spiritual] encounter.” Kok Kian said. “It was very strange. Every time I tried to sleep, I saw a vision. It was as if I was in an Imax movie, looking down on a beautiful scenery with people going about life. It was not a familiar place, but it kept coming. I couldn’t sleep.” They had to give him sleeping pills so that he could go to sleep.
This went on for several days before the visions changed. This time, the scenes he saw were dark and perilous. There was a stark difference, however, between these visions and his initial encounter with evil spirits.
“My first experience with the evil spirit was fear, and my body reacted with my hair standing. Somehow, I immediately knew that something was not right. But with the Holy Spirit, there was just peace. These visions were so beautiful and peaceful, and I had no fear even though I didn’t know where, what, why, or how.
“These are all very strange things that I still cannot interpret,” Kok Kian said. Nevertheless, the experience with his kidney prompted him to retire. “I got the message from God that I need to slow down.”
Kok Kian had also begun attending BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), and was growing in his faith because of those meetings. “It helped me a lot to know about God, His Word, and His will. After I retired, I decided to give my time to do whatever God wants me to do.” It was during this time that Kok Kian became truly committed to serving God with his life.
In 2008, he suffered chronic knee pain due to an old injury while playing badminton. Without praying or consulting with his family, he made the decision to go for surgery. “It didn’t work out well,” he said. He has been living with the pain in his knee for almost 8 years now. He has been in and out of hospital, gone for countless sessions of physiotherapy, and even been through another surgery. But it only made it worse.
At home Kok Kian uses a stool with roller wheels to get around. “It gives me mobility, otherwise I will just be lying in one place. There was a period when I was very depressed. But God has a purpose,” he said.
“I don’t know whether this is my “thorn in the flesh”, but I think that God wants me to have compassion for other people—to know about pain. I think that God is leading me to care about others rather than to be inward looking and care only about myself.
He continues to keep himself healthy and active by going swimming every morning, and playing an active role in his community. “I try to work, but I don’t work for my own gain. I try to help others as much as I can. If that’s what God wants me to do, that’s what I’ll do. I’m fine with it. I feel very blessed. With all these inconveniences, I’ve accepted them and just want to follow Him.
“God is almighty, He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. I looked at my own physical problems and I came to an understanding that our human body is so complicated. No matter how many thousand years we study medical science, we will never be able to fully understand it.
“I don’t blame the doctor who misdiagnosed me or got it wrong because our body is so complex. You look at the number of cells, nerves, miles of capillaries—it is beyond anything we could ever know. Even the top scientists only know a speckle of what God knows.
“I always tell people who don’t believe in God: There’s no excuse. Even though there is pain and suffering, how can I not trust Him? He knows everything. He’s in charge of everything. He created me. There’s no question about trust. There is no recourse. There is no other way. It’s not like when your mother is not happy with you and you go to your father—because God is ultimate!”
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