Nov 22, 2012, by Adeline Lum CM-
Johnnie Liew lived on the streets for two and half a year, beating the sun and rain. How did he end up on the streets? He was a brilliant student at school, mounting first spot in his classes from seven to nine years old.
His father was very pleased with him and at nine years old, he said to him, “boy, if you get first again the following term, I will give you a watch.”
Bright-eyed Johnnie was excited! He worked hard and emerged first in class! He rushed back home to an empty hand—no watch. How could his father let him down? He could not understand.
“Looking back now, my father was a storekeeper. How can he buy me a watch when he had eight children to feed?” said Johnnie.
But a broken promise to a child was devastating! And Johnnie started to rebel since then, getting involved in petty crimes.
Nobody could hold him down till he grew up, not even the gurus in the temple. He described himself as “being so naughty that he was kicked out of the house.” That was when he turned 28 years old.
Rain or shine, he lived at the alleys of Chow Kit road, fighting and doing everything to survive.
“I would wait for the chap fan (mixed rice) store to close at 10 pm where they would throw their food into the dustbin. And then, I would scoop it out and place it on the newspaper or plastic bag to eat from it. Corrugated boxes are my blankets and pillows that I relied on,” said Johnnie.
Saved from the Streets of Chow Kit
His hair became long. Night and day, he wore the same shirt and pants. At 30 years old, his sister bumped into him on the streets. Shock and grief boiled in her veins and tears streamed down her cheeks. She could hardly recognize her brother!
“She asked me if I wanted to be saved. I said yes!” said Johnnie who was later directed to the Christian Care center where he spent two years there.
While his peers at 40 years old had a career, car, family and degree, Johnnie had nothing. He spent six months to a year, at FGA KL, doing a little cleaning here and there voluntarily.
“I wanted to stay in a church environment to get out of my past life,” said Johnnie.
Second Chance in Life
One day, his friend (fellow brother in FGA) was getting married and asked him to print out wedding cards. Without any knowledge about printing, he scouted Pudu area and researched about the process and cost of printing, amounting to RM250. But he was paid RM350, to cover the labor cost of printing.
His creative mind flicked as he thought this could be a business. By God’s grace, the experts in the printing business were willing to teach him the strings in the business.
“Because of the years I have wasted, I knew that I need to work doubly hard to be in the same status with my peers,” said Johnnie.
Now, Johnnie is running a printing company, with his wife, Cherry and a 20-years old son, Clement. Until now, he is amazed of why God gave him a second chance in life!
“I should be dead long ago. And I have nothing to boast because He is my source of the riches given to me. It is not by my might or strength but by His Spirit” said Johnnie.
So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.
One Thing of Discontentment
However, there is still one area he is not contented with, his knowledge about God.
“Because I have spent so much time in building my business, I crave to know more about God,” said Johnnie who has more free time to drink God’s words deeper now. “By His stripes, I am healed by Jesus,” said Johnnie with gratitude.
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We are the Aroma of Christ!
Recently, he offered to run to raise funds for a young fellow friend, Owen, who had brain cancer despite not being a jogger. With chest pain and six panadols to pacify the pain, he ran a total of 27 km raising a fun of RM37, 000 for him. The next day, he went for a check-up due to chest pain. The hospital confirmed that he had over 60 percent risk for heart blockage.
“God so love me even when I am a sinner (Romans 5:8). What is my life compared to Owen’s? He’s still young and he has a life to live. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21),” said Johnnie.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
“When people see good works in you, they want to know why you’re like that. This is called the fragrant of Christ. When they smell it, they know that it’s Jesus,” said Johnnie.
2 Cor 2:15
For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
God is my Authority
He believed that God preserved his life for a purpose, that God has authority over him. He wanted to be healed by Jesus, like how the centurion had faith that Jesus had the authority to heal his servant, by His word and authority! (Matthew 8:5-10;13)
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.
6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
“When I was younger, my parents had authority over me. Now that my parents are not here with me, the person of authority over me is God,” said Johnnie.
If you love Me, Feed my Sheeps
He also sees our life to a bicycle.
“We’re like a bicycle. As long as we allow it, God would use that gear to move us into His direction or speed. But it depends on whether I want to avail to it or not,” said Johnnie.
Seeing the multitude suffering in despair, Johnnie feel that the harvest is indeed plentiful, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37).
Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
“I am just a small, small, small bird, but God need caring Christians to serve the world,” said Johnnie. “By the breath of His nostrils, I would be blown away. The earth is just God’s footstool.”
"'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be?
Now, he is also planning to visit Melaka, Taiping and Tapah to small churches next year. Pastors could not support their monthly rental sometimes for the premise. Hence, he will be asking a few friends to visit and worship with them in these churches.
He will also be making a trip to the border of Myanmar and Thailand, called the Golden Triangle, where some children there lost a limb due to the bombs left on the fields during war. An adventurous guy, he planned to ride his bike to the Golden Triangle with a brother-in-Christ (David Yong) and a group of Thailand bikers to do charity work among Northern Thai HIll Villages of the Karen Tribe. Do remember them in prayer when you come to the Father, for it will be a dangerous journey.
“I am still waiting to get some Siamese tracts from a pastor to hand out,” said Johnnie. “Pastor Lim Soon Lee said he would be trying to get me some Siamese tracts, but at the mean time, I would appreciate if anyone could share them with me.”
He would be leaving to Myanmar on the 28th of November (would appreciate it if you could email us at Christianity Malaysia if you have the tracts available).
Indeed, he is fervent after God’s heart now, believing in the Chinese proverb of “one day, do one charity.”
“People think charity must be big. But a simple gesture such as having manners even it was a bad day, offering your seat to someone or even saying good morning, is a charitable act as well,” said Johnnie.
A Light is Not to be Hidden
Now, Johnnie owns a printing business and a loving family.
“What drew me to Johnnie was his humility. Although he is conservative, sometimes he can be quite a joker,” said Cherry Yee, who thanked her husband for taking care of the family and bringing her to Christ!
Clement, his son, also admired his father’s hard work and never-give-up attitude in life. “Although my father grew up in a poor family, he worked very hard to achieve his target and provided for the family. He did not think of the past but worked forward towards his goal,” said Clement.
A God-fearing man, he hopes that when he meets God, he would be able to answer the question of “what have you done?”
“This story had not been told for many years but for the glory of God, I will share it with you,” said Johnnie upon prayer, encouraged by Matthew 5:14-16.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Nobody lights a lamp and put it under a bowl. Indeed, by revealing his past, Johnnie became the “light to everyone in the house” of Christ. May he, like all of us, when meeting God, would hear the sweet words of “Well done, my good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:23)."
Either than the pictures of Johnnie, all other pictures were adapted from the following website: