In 1974, Grace Ong accepted Christ into her life. She had a venerable and successful career as a head nurse, and has worked in hospitals at different states like Pahang, Perak, Penang and KL.
The seed for missions, was planted when, she had a vision of herself leaving the country and everything she had to serve God in a “faraway place”. However, the hubbub of ‘life and work’ clamored her attentions, pushing what God had shown her, to the sidewalk of her thoughts.
During her years in the hospital, she desired a ‘change’ and when an opening to be a mid-wife in Saudi Arabia arose, she pranced at the opportunity. In Saudi Arabia, she bagged a high income in her position. Amidst her “security” and busy work schedule though, Holy Spirit began to intervene, and spoke to her in Matthew 16:26, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”. Not long after, a colleague advised her to leave the work place before the environment changed her. “You are too good to be in a place like this,” she recalls her colleague advising her. After much consideration, she relented and decided to return to Malaysia.
Grace is ever thankful for the time she had in that country and shares, “Being in a new culture, I could see how God used the five years I had in Saudi Arabia to train and mould me for missions.”
Upon returning, she worked in a private hospital for three and a half years as a head nurse. “Despite being in charge of various departments; labor, post natal, antenatal and the gynae ward, I felt no satisfaction and began to ask God, ‘Is this what I came back for?’ I remember, one day while I was doing my rounds in the wards, I met an elderly Chinese lady who had a Bible on the table. In interest, I asked if she was a Christian. She nodded and said she knew I was a Christian as well, through the way I spoke to her. In our conversation, I was left imprinted with her question, ‘How many souls have you led to the Lord’”, Grace recounts.
The first move
In 1999, the world news recorded a huge blizzard, which had swept over Mongolia. Watching on television, dead animals stacked on top of each other in a pile, Grace’s heart moved with compassion. Unmindful that the Lord would take her desires seriously, she muttered to herself, “How I wish I could help”. During Chinese New Year the following year, God prompted her to “move”, by speaking through her unsaved aunt, “It’s time to go where you want to go, to do what you want to do”
She was stirred then, to seriously consider missions and visited a mission organization, Interserve. When asked where she wanted to serve, ‘Mongolia’ rolled out of her mouth, without her truly understanding why. During her quiet time with God, Revelation 3:8 arose in her heart, “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it, for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” She received confirmation, when she put on the tape from Interserve and saw the country, Mongolia pop up on screen, with the statement, “Mongolia has an open door”.
Dying to self
Her one-year of preparation to go into the mission field was a humbling process. She learnt what it meant to die to one’s self and empty herself before the Lord. Grace was involved in ministering to HIV patients in GH KL after work. Her home church therefore, was unsupportive of her resignation from her post as a head nurse.
“I spent that one year, praying, fasting and on my knees a lot before the Lord. Besides equipping myself in the Wycliffe Bible Course, I offered assistance in an NGO at Selayang. I had to help iron piles of clothes and scrape paint off the floor. I loathed ironing, and I knew God was teaching me to humble myself through this. From earning a steady, lucrative income, I was paid only RM 200 in the NGO,” Grace relays.
“I did not know how to raise funds and my church, at first, was not supportive of me going into missions. I never asked anyone for money. However, He provided all the funds I needed by moving the hearts of some people,” Grace shares gleefully. “I remember God saying, ‘The answer may not be fast, but always on time.’ ”
In 2002, Grace Ong jet off for Mongolia. She was first attached to an International NGO before moving on to a Mongolian NGO. Grace was involved in various ministries and worked alongside various age groups there. Wherever she saw a need, she stepped in and worked towards the goal of meeting the needs of the people.
She remembers reaching out to the children by throwing an eventful Christmas party, which recorded an attendance of over 80 children. This enjoyable event was a jumpstart to sparking an interest in the children’s hearts for Sunday School. The following weekend, these children attended their very first Sunday School at the local church. Grace continued to work with the children, by teaching them ‘life skills’ and teaching them important values, through Bible stories.
Besides children, Grace was moved to create an opportunity for the Senior Citizens to come together for fellowship. She subtly shared about Christianity during the meetings. To her delight, the fellowship group eventually moved these unsaved senior citizens to attend the local church.
During her years there, she also volunteered to clean the wounds of the people on the street. Despite their dirty and pungent state, she gladly helped them change the dressings of their wounds. One incident, which is still clearly ingrained in her memory, is one of a man with a fractured hand. After bandaging his hand, she noticed, he returned the next day with great joy emanating from within. As she opened his bandage that day, she was shocked to witness his countenance change. “I could not believe it, his face was beaming and I saw his countenance change to be like Jesus.”
Besides that, she did much teaching to bring awareness on abortion in schools, colleges and universities. She also conducted ‘domestic house training’ for women to equip themselves and gain a job opportunity in this area. She excitedly shares a testimony from this training, “One lady who had dropped out of school, began attending the training I conducted. She managed to get a job as a domestic worker for some foreigners. With God’s favor, the foreigners, whom she worked with, decided to sponsor her to go to university! I have seen how she has grown from a shy person with low self esteem to a confident young woman.”
Realizing there were a great number of people affected by stroke, Grace leaped into action and began to work with them. Full of initiative, she gathered them and organized stroke camps, exercise sessions, leisure activities and liaised with physiotherapists to work with them. Sometimes, she would take them out to the countryside for picnics. In that group of about seven stroke patients, two of them gave their lives to the Lord. Grace journeyed with these stroke patients for eight years. She always reminds them, “You can be disabled physically, but do not allow it to affect you to be disabled mentally and emotionally”.
With joy palpable in her eyes, she shares, “When we played football together, we laughed when someone missed a shot. We encouraged the person to keep trying until he got the shot.” She portrays how they learnt to find joy in the little things and not give up.
“In a post stroke care seminar, I came to know about this man who was bedridden. He had meningitis, which caused him to be in a coma. When he awoke from coma, blood began to clot in his brain, which induced a stroke that left him bedridden. I started visiting him and teaching him to sit up and care for himself. He can now walk, with the aid of a walker. If I had not met him, he would most likely still be on bed, as the local doctor does not encourage stroke patients to get up. He is very open to the gospel, was discipled by a local Christian and has now begun going to church!” she communicated.
Grace sees herself as an “enabler”, and highly believes in empowering the locals. In all her projects, she ensures she trains the locals and then releases it under their leadership. An example is where she trained a woman to lead her stroke patient group and projects. This woman caught Grace’s attention, when she, the only adult consistently came for her Bible study group for children. Under Grace’s guidance, this lady started helping out part time before moving on to provide full time assistance with her stroke group. She also, gave the lady an opportunity to be trained in Malaysia under the National Stroke Association (NASAM). This woman, a single mother of three, who was once despised by the community, grew in her abilities and was even granted the ‘Best Worker Award’ from the government, twice.
When asked what challenges and difficulties she had to face, she shares, “It was difficult, when people did not understand what I was trying to do at times. This was because the work I was doing had not been done there before.”
“Also, the international organization I was under, tried to stop me from doing what I wanted to do. They were afraid and wary when I worked alongside some family doctors. As I did not possess a license, I could not practice medical work there and they feared I would give injections and cause harm to the people. I am a cautious person, and will not do anything, which may cause any jeopardy to the organization. This was a very painful period, as I had to say, ‘No’ to helping the pregnant mothers I knew. As a result, I lost the relationships I had built with these mothers.” “God ordained, I was eventually invited to join a local Mongolian NGO. I loved being at this NGO, and was exposed to Mongolian culture. There, I was able to reach out to different levels of people in the community.”
“I recall, how God protected me twice from car accidents. Once, when I came out of the department store and was about to cross the road, a car swerved right into the divider where I was standing. Before I knew it, the wheels of the car went over my boots and the car windows were at my chest. In another incident, He protected me from a drunkard driver who wanted to knock me down intentionally.”
Saying Goodbye to Mongolia
After 13 years of serving in Mongolia, Grace Ong has recently returned to Malaysia. “I really miss the people back there. It was an emotional affair leaving the place. I never thought I would see ‘macho’, grown men cry,” she says.
Upon returning, God has moved in her heart to help parents with children with special needs. She is therefore, about to embark on a course in Special Education for six months in KL. Unwavering in faith, she trusted fully in God to provide her a place to live in the city. True to His faithfulness, He has recently provided her an accommodation in the area!
She says adamantly, “Wherever God leads me after that, I will then go. I will serve Him until my very last breath. I do not want to retire.”
She advises those whom are looking to embark into missions, to be like a “Chameleon”, to blend in with the locals, able to be flexible. She stresses on the importance of being humble as well, to remember not to think highly of ourselves, but focus on Him alone. She encourages, “Keep trying and don’t give up.”
If you would like to contribute and sow into Grace’s life, please do so at:
Interserve Malaysia Cc to Grace Ong ‘s support.
Bank: HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad
Account Name Interserve Fellowship Berhad
Account number: 302-508825-001
Cheryl Loo is a former vice-principal for Kits4Kids Foundation specializing in Early Intervention for children with special needs. With a burden to bring Christ’s love and see the Cambodians grow to know the Lord personally, she has recently moved into the country for mission work. You can read more about her story here.
If you are interested to sow financially into her mission, details for banking are found below. For further insight as to what she would be doing in Cambodia or if you express an interest to stand with her in prayer and would love to receive frequent newsletters; contact her at email@example.com
may bank acc no: 1123 6233 1003
This is part of an initiative together with Jason Lee who will be attending the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG2016) which will be held on 3-10 August 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for His global mission. He has had the opportunity to work with churches, orphanages and youths in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, Thailand and East Malaysia. If you would like to find out more about YLG2016 or connect with Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org or read about his story here.
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