Does the name sound familiar? For those who are wondering who Gurmit Singh is, he is best known for his role as Phua Chu Kang (a Chinese Ah Beng) in the popular comedy sitcom that gained popularity in Singapore and other neighboring countries, such as Malaysia. The Singaporean actor and comedy performer has loads of experience under his belt in the film industry and continues to work hard to entertain and provide for his family until this very day. Gurmit is a family man to the core as he always reserves his Sundays for family, church and charity. He is married to housewife Melissa Wong, 36. They have two children – daughter Gabrielle, eight, and son Elliot, four.
One might ask, so who is the man behind Gurmit? The man behind him, behind his success, behind his very being, and the one who made him where he is today is none other than Jesus Christ. Gurmit recently graced SMCC (SunwayMas Community Center) and shared at the special event with the crowd right after the service. Before he came out, musicians performed and everyone was entertained by the emcees as they called volunteers from the audience to play a game. There was a lot of laughter in the room and many happy faces could be seen but, it was only when Gurmit himself came up on stage that everyone’s faces really lit up. More than a thousand people came to listen to him speak that day.
His Walk with God
As he entered, he told a few jokes that made everyone burst into laughter and sang his favourite song titled “Better Man” by Robbie Williams. After that, Gurmit revealed the substantial side of him. He began to share a story of when he was a younger and about 19 years old. “I want to share a different side of me that you probably haven’t seen at all and that’s the serious side; not serious in a sad or angry way but serious in a sad, but also happy way,” he said.
He became a Christian in the year 1985, he shared unfolding a story, which involved his mother. “My mother to me is the strongest in the whole world, you may think that your mother is strong but my mother is stronger! Growing up, I came from a very poor family. It was my father, mother, me and three younger sisters. We were so poor that I would sleep on the floor; we were so poor that our shoes were worn until it couldn’t be worn anymore. My school shorts would get tighter and tighter every year,” he shared.
In terms of their family’s survival, his father has two jobs, he worked as a watchman at a bank during the day and at another bank during the night. “He was working 24 hours,” shared Gurmit. Simultaneously, his mother would work at a hawker center to pitch in to the family fund. “By the time she came back home, it would be 12 midnight. I don’t know about you but for me if I come home at midnight after a hard day’s work needing to rest but my mother would 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, when there was no work, aiyah! Fall sick” he jokingly said. Even when she was sick she would take Panadol; it was her cure for everything.
One day, according to Gurmit, she came back home with a stomach pain and took Panadol but it didn’t make her feel any better and so she went to a stomach specialist to see what the problem was. “They did the blood test and x-rays and 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. Imagine his dismay when the doctor broke that news to him, he was furious, and 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.
Moving forward, his mother went for radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 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. By this time, Gurmit was also angry at his sisters who had become Christians through a Bible study that they took up in school, he was angry because he knew it would upset his father who didn’t like Christianity. He even scolded his sisters and said, “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!” Gurmit admits that he used to be a very angry boy. “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 because his mother had nothing to lose. And so, when the pastor came to visit his mother, he was very grounded and immediately told the 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. After listening to the pastor, 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, instead of hating them and throwing things at them which I usually do, I found myself saying ‘Okay, let’s go’”
There he heard a powerful and eloquent message, even witnessing miracles. “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,” he shared. When he read the Bible one day, he stumbled upon Matthew 7:7 that 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 it was as if he had a light bulb moment. Gurmit then immediately went to a corner, went down on his knees and prayed to God. Gurmit reminded of the promise He made in that verse and asked him if He wouldn’t mind, if He could let 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 said to God.
Although he was a fairly new Christian at that time and didn’t really know how to pray, 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 to them, “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.” And so Gurmit’s mother who was supposed to die in six months’ time, lived up to sixteen years!
In sixteen years’ time however, she had the same problem, I was very angry and asked God about what happened. “I thought it was supposed to be gone. Why is it back?… and then He reminded me about sixteen years ago when I said to him, that when there are grandchildren around that He could take her,” he shared. By this time, he was already married with a daughter and a son on the way. It was time for Gurmit to let her go. Gurmit explained that this time in the hospital, his mother was breathing differently and due to that, the doctor gave him a professional opinion stating that she might only be able to last for another week. The whole family then gathered together including his father; they surrounded her to say their goodbyes. “We all thanked her for being such a good mother, such a hardworking mother. We had so little and she tried to give us as much as she could, her time, her blood, and sweat,” recalled Gurmit, overwhelmed with emotion. When it was his father’s turn to say goodbye, it was the first time that he ever heard his father say, “I love you” to his mother. After his father kissed her, she took her final breath and passed away.
“When I tell this story I am sad because I miss her of course but in my heart I know she’s in heaven because she gave her life to Jesus Christ and when I die, I will be there with her. Two years after my mother died, my father passed also but one month before he passed away, He became a Christian!” shared Gurmit with joy.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)