16 Aug 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
Pr Benny Tan found out that he was not the child of his parents at 12 years old. Hanging out with violent gang members, this is a story of how God powerfully redeemed a man who was thought to either die on the streets or spend his life in jail. Most importantly, this is a story of how God redeemed Benny’s identity as His precious and worthy son.
On 5th of August, Pr Benny shared about his redeeming testimony in the Ebenezer Chapter of the Full Gospel Businessmen (FGB) Fellowship, led by Steven Toh. In this story, you can also find pieces found in his written book called ‘Against all Odds.’
Fighting with the Dragons
Benny was sweating bullets as he stood before Charles, a bully notorious for his cold-blooded stare and nasty brawl. Everyone would avoid Charles but on that afternoon, Benny had nowhere to run with the sudden appearance of Charles who had been tailing his back.
Quaking with fear, the scrawny thirteen-year-old was pinned down to the ground. A punch, a blow, and another punch, Benny could only say, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to all of the demands of Charles who was bigger and taller than him. Lifting Benny for respecting his authority, Charles decreed Benny as his best friend with the added privilege of protection.
Since then, they terrorized the streets of Petaling Street and Rex Cinema with a few other gang members. Charles had close ties with a fearsome gang in the city, called the Tiger Dragon (Loong Foo Thong) Gang. Although Benny’s parents and teachers deemed him as a good-for-nothing, hopeless, and embarrassing misdemeanor, Benny was a king on the street. He felt invincible, powerful and commanding from the extortion, senseless beatings and also gate crashing of parties.
Locked Behind Bars of Hurt
But Benny’s bravado could not stand against the most fearful ‘tiger’ he knew- his father. A failed robbery landed the 16-year-old Benny in Campbell Road Police Station, and a phone call to his father’s company released that ‘tiger’ in his old man. As a reputable manager in the company, bailing out his teenage son was humiliating.
And mind you, Benny’s was not exactly born with a silver spoon as it appeared but he had moved from a dodgy tiny room above a coffee house, to a bungalow, a tiny shack, and then, a double storey house. And like his life that involved much shifting, his childhood was also unstable to say the least.
The day that shook his identity came when he was old enough to register for his own Identity Card (IC). At twelve years old, Benny was excited but shocked to receive a red card that not only revealed his identity as an alien, but also that his parents were not his real parents.
But the poor fellow had to keep the matter to himself because his father was a man of few words, but of hasty actions. Oppressed like a ticking time bomb, Benny’s emptiness grew to fill in feelings of rejection and worthlessness.
Why should he feel worthy since he was sold for 3000 Ringgit? Clearly, his real parents loved money more than him. Furthermore, he was nothing but a retirement plan and a house chore slave for his current parents. In his distant memory, things started to make sense as he recalled how his mother would tell him how he would owe them for feeding, clothing, and educating him. And when he grows up, he was expected to take care of them at old age. That was it! He was nothing more than a retirement tool that no one loved nor liked.
“Why should anyone enjoy their lives with their big house and nice car, while we live in misery?” thought Benny. His hurtful feelings turned him into a hurtful person who would pick fights for pleasure and power. It was no wonder that he found common interest with Charles and the rest of the gang.
But that year of bailing terrorized Benny more than any fights he had. He was more terrified of his father than going to prison. Sitting quietly in the car, he could sense the murderous intent exuded by his father. True enough, when they reached home, his father dragged Benny into the kitchen and belted him until his father got exhausted.
It’s Pay Back Time
And when Benny turned 16 years old, his father passed away due to cancer, leaving the burden of taking care of the family on his shoulders. The time had come for Benny to pay back to his adopted family. With no high school certificate, Benny saw a gloomy future of dishwashing at the back alleys before him.
But even then, the Lord’s hand was upon Benny’s life. His Good Samaritan neighbor not only offered them a place to stay when his father died, but also pulled strings to get him a job in the Magistrate’s Court at Bentong.
A hefty pay, he would work fervently in the weekdays and sent a third of his salary to his mother. In the weekdays, he would live a discipline and diligent life as a law enforcer, while in the weekends; he would spend time roaming at the streets with his gang friends. It was a double life. But after a few weekends of tiresome driving, he decided to stay in Bentong, which forever changed his life.
Meeting the Son of Man
On that weekend in Bentong, a missionary suddenly stopped by the road while Benny was walking on the street and invited Benny for a youth meeting. Since Benny was free, he went to the meeting and enjoyed the songs and the story telling of a loving and caring God. Benny returned week after week, living a triple life as a holy churchgoer, street brawler and law enforcer.
As the weeks passed by, he realized the missionary kept mentioning the book called the Bible. Since God existed and He could be found in the Bible, Benny decided to read a few chapters a day, an unusual interest since he had no interest in reading when he was younger. Why should he since everyone told him how hopeless he was? But as he flipped the pages, he began to know God as a loving and caring God. Most importantly, he knew that God loves and cares for him. He is precious in God’s eyes; he is worthy, wanted, loved, accepted, forgiven, and amazing in His eyes. Soon, he began to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
Becoming God’s Mouthpiece
At that time, he was also secretly envying the young police inspectors who looked very smart in their uniforms. And due to his good relationship with his superior, he was able to land that desired position, which surprisingly caused an unease respond amongst his church leaders. The leaders had been monitoring Benny’s growth and prayed for him. They believed that God wanted him to be in full-time ministry. So, with sheer obedience, Benny quit his job both at the Magistrate and the Police Station, before heading to the New Zealand Bible College.
But during his Bible School days, Benny backslid when he saw the riches and glory earned from taking secular jobs. His focus on God shifted to self-fulfillment and pleasure instead. Hence, upon graduation, Benny began to take high-paying secular jobs in New Zealand; one that would offer him enough money to buy a colored television when it was first launched in New Zealand at that time.
One day, while watching the television, Benny’s wife came and asked Benny a rather simple question; why hadn’t he answered God’s calling for him to enter full-time ministry. That question broke into a massive argument between Benny and his wife. Benny erupted and in the middle of the argument, his wife turned and ran back to her room.
While Benny was still fuming alone in his living room, a crystal clear voice interrupted his mind. “Turn off the TV!” the voice boomed in his head. Bewildered, Benny turned off his television and after a little pause; the voice asked Benny either to serve Him now or never. He knew that God was talking to him.
He finally became aware of his spiritual state and repented to God. A load of guilt was rolled away and he ran to his room to seek for his wife’s forgiveness, where she was found praying for him. Due to his obedience, God opened doors for Pr Benny and his wife to become pastors in a small and humble church in Kaitaia, a small town in New Zealand, which had 5000 people. Since that very day, Benny had been serving The Lord faithfully over decades now with his wife and touched many lives, bringing countless backslid Christians to God. What a great testimony of Pr Benny who despite all odds against him, rose in the hands of God to be the shining light for Him today.
Although people saw Benny as a hopeless, unwanted, and unworthy person when he was growing up, God always knew who Benny was in Him, even before Benny knew and saw his identity in God.
Are you struggling with your identity, being told by the world of who you are or how your life would be? The greatest person who knows your identity is your Creator, and the greatest plan in your life also lies in the hand of your Creator. Out of everyone you knew, The Lord knows your talents, your skills, your potential, and your personality the best. Yet, we looked everywhere and everyone for an answer to who we are, but we never turned to God who knew us even when we are in our mother’s womb. Do not look elsewhere anymore. The Father knows your identity and He desires to bring you up, shape you, and tell you who He meant you to be in His glorious plan. May you find and secure your identity in Him like Pr Benny whose identity is redeemed in Jesus Christ. Nothing is impossible even in the bleakest moment of your life.
Note: For more information on Pr Benny compelling story, he has written a book called ‘Against All Odds.’ If you would like to contact Pr Benny, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 0405627626.
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