Founder and administrator of Second Chance Community Home, Bro. Daniel Lew is a living testimony of God’s grace and mercy, and he is not ashamed to tell the world why. The economic crisis in 1987 saw many Malaysians get retrenched and lose their livelihoods. At that time, Bro. Daniel was working as a fleet controller in a car rental company.
Although he did not lose his job, many of his friends did, and with a little bit of persuasion, he was soon driving his buddies up to the Genting Highlands casino during lunch hours for some quick earnings. Before he knew it, he was also sucked into the gambling thrill.
“The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy,” Bro. Daniel said. “At first, you win a little. Then as you begin to lose, you use the little savings that you have. And when that is also lost, the schemes of the devil will come into your mind.”
Being the man who bought and sold cars for his company, Bro. Daniel had some excess cash in his possession. So he rolled the money, hoping to win back his losses. “I dug my own grave deeper and deeper to the point that it was beyond my ability to restitute.”
The guilt haunted him. He couldn’t sleep at night, and used to dream his problems would vanish. But real life didn’t change. The accountants were chasing him for an explanation and his operations manager was beginning to get suspicious.
“On 13 January 1987, I knelt down and cried out to Jesus. I didn’t know Him, but I said, ‘Lord Jesus, deliver me from this crisis.’ I was very remorseful. I wept and wept. And then the peace of God came. The first thing in my mind was to write a letter of confession and surrender myself to the management.”
The next morning, he told his wife everything. She took it very calmly, and that very afternoon, he turned himself in to his company. They asked if he could restitute, but he replied that it was beyond his means. That being the case, his management had no choice but to involve the authorities.
The police took his statement and he was put in lockup. Even then, Bro. Daniel witnessed God’s favor upon him. The lockup was a volatile place, packed with robbers, murderers, and rapists in a single cell. But his investigating officer was kind enough to put him in a cell with only two other men: a blind man who had been soliciting with falsified documents, and an illegal immigrant.
After a week, he was transferred to remand prison until his hearing. It was very crowded and congested there. Thirteen men clothed in nothing but their underwear were crammed into a six-by-nine foot cell. Each bunker had three guys. They slept hugging their knees to their chests. There was no running water, a single forty-watt light bulb, a tiny ventilation opening close to the ceiling, and one rubber bin.
“I lost my self worth. No privacy. Heaps of human waste. They don’t call you by name. They call you by number. Mine was 1103.” However, it was in prison that Bro. Daniel tasted God’s love. His wife had contacted Malaysian Care, and Richard Thong, the prison ministry leader at that time visited him. “He gave me two pairs of underwear. Those two pairs of underwear turned my whole life around. They gave me back my sense of self worth. I was not an animal.”
Bro. Daniel also experienced God’s mercy through the most unlikely people: his cellmates. During his first week there, he developed a high fever during the night. His only option was to wait till morning to get any form of medical attention—if he survived through the night. Since each person was assigned one blanket, his cellmates cocooned him up in all thirteen blankets and hoisted him up to that forty-watt light bulb until his fever broke.
“Through the love of these dear brothers, I realized in my time of imprisonment that God, in His mercy, made each human life with a soft spot. No matter how hardcore they may be, whatever crime they have committed, deep, deep, deep in the recesses of their hearts, there is always a soft spot. If you can just touch that soft spot, people can change. That is the mercy of our Creator.”
At his hearing, Bro. Daniel pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years imprisonment and a RM10 000 fine. He was then brought to the “Orang Baru” block at Pudu Prison. There, he met his old business associates and even some old classmates. “It’s a small world,” he laughed.
His friends invited him to join the ‘Christian gathering,’ where the late Ps. Yim used to visit and conduct services. “We met a the hospital compound. I sat right in the front, and this old man of God, before he preached, pointed his finger at me and said, ‘You are the apple of His eye.’
“At that time I didn’t understand, but over the years I realized. Apples are a rare fruit in prison. We get bananas, and maybe some watermelon. But that year, Ps. Yim brought big juicy apples for us. They were so precious. Then I understood that when God looks at us, we are like precious fruit in His sight. It doesn’t matter how tainted we are.”
After ten difficult months at the Pudu Prison, Bro. Daniel was transferred to the Kajang Prison. “Kajang Prison is like a modern day campus. Newly built, not a big population, fresh air, fluorescent lamps, flush system, running water… When you look beyond the walls, you can see the green hills. So my time there flew by.
We started the Kajang Prison Christian fellowship and I was one of the committee members. At that time, it was very strong—about two hundred people. We coordinated the weekly meetings, I was growing in the Lord, and I started reading the Bible. My cellmate was a pub-singer, so that’s where I learned to play the guitar.”
He was given administrative work to do at the prison and even cataloged a library with another inmate. 1988 was the year of the Thomas Cup and Seoul Olympics. Things were looking up as he anticipated those events and his release drew closer and closer. But then, around Easter, he received a letter from home.
“We prisoners, we like reading letters from the outside. Especially during the night after doing everything we need to do.” The first three pages were fine, but when he got to the fourth page, his world came crashing down. His wife wanted a divorce.
“I was going to go home soon. My daughter would have been seven years old.” Alone in his cell, he got on his knees and wept. “We were all locked in. I had just learned the song, Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” So he sang that song, over and over. “And the Lord came to visit me. There was Someone in my room. I was on my knees weeping, but the presence was so strong, I peeped. You believe me? Jesus came to visit me!
“I saw a white robe. He didn’t say anything, but I know He was there. Imprisonment does wonders. When you’re in the pit—when you’re zero, and you put God as number one, He makes you a ten. He will add value into your life.”
Prison also taught Bro. Daniel contentment. Upon his release, a former colleague was kind enough to help his set up his own insurance business. “But when I was in the marketplace again, I felt empty. So I went to Malaysian Care just to say hello. The staff there asked me to help delivery goody bags to the prisoner’s families around the Klang Valley.
“It was when I went into the field with these volunteers that God opened up my eyes, and I saw the suffering among the families. I had my own pity party going on, but God opened my eyes and laid a burden on my heart to serve the prisoners and prisoners’ families.
Bro. Daniel assimilated into New Life Restoration Center and grew. He spoke to his pastor, and asked if they would support him with some allowance if he volunteered full-time with Malaysian Care and they agreed. “That’s how I kick-started my service to the Lord, from 1990 until today. For thirteen years, he worked with Malaysian Care, and eventually oversaw the prison, drug rehab, and HIV/AIDS ministry with fourteen staff under him.
In April 2008, Bro. Daniel founded Second Chance Community Home. It provides short term residential care to ex-prisoners who have been released, parolees from prison, and ex-inmates from government drug centers. “This home was also miraculously provided by God. I started from humble beginnings from a two-room flat. I was taking care of eight guys. One morning when I went to the washroom, I saw that it was like my old cell in Pudu. “In my heart, I asked, ‘God, will you give me a better place?’ So in the course of my community work, every time I see an empty bungalow, I’ll ask, ‘God, is this the one?’
Then, he found the house they now occupy. “My old staff from Malaysian Care told me the rent was RM2500. But God gave me an amount: RM 2000. I told them that I’ll call the owners and propose RM 2000. If they accept, I’ll know it’s God’s will. So they prayed. That evening, I met the owners. I shared my testimony and my intentions, and they said, ‘how much can you afford?’ I gave them my figure. They agreed!”
However, the complications were not altogether settled. Even with RM2000 rent, Bro. Daniel needed to place a payment off RM8000, upfront. When he mentioned his conundrum to a brother he met with every Monday for prayer, this brother told him that he would underwrite the house for an entire year!
“All my support is through people I know—church leaders and some corporate people. God has been faithful since day one. Everything you see in this home—God sent good people and turned this place into a haven. Even the birds come every day at 4 pm!
“So as I look back, it’s God’s hand. Our budget is very low. People tend to be more willing to help old folks’ homes and homes for underprivileged children or single mothers, but when it comes to ex-offenders people are a little more hesitant since it’s something that is a result of their own indulgence. But the Christian community must be educated that Christ really came to seek and save the lost. All these people are very dear to Him. They are the apples of His eye.”
As they move forward into 2016, Second Chance Community Home hopes to eventually become self-sufficient. Many of the men are very skilled in various professions. They eventually hope to be able to set up a catering business, and are always more than happy to provide manual labor for churches or organizations in need to some extra muscle.
During their time at Second Chance, the men are exposed to teachings from God’s Word. They have someone from Crossroads Bible Institute come to conduct a correspondence course, and Alpha Malaysia also comes to lead the Alpha Course. Over the years, some of the men who went through the program at Second Chance are now transformed by the grace of God and reintegrated into the mainstream of society.
“We may be nobody in the public eye, but as long as we are faithful and doing it for God’s glory and honestly touching lives, God is faithful.” Bro. Daniel went on to share many other stories of God’s grace, mercy, and faithfulness to him and his ministry over the years. “I can tell you miracle after miracle.”
He shared about how he badly needed a new car in 2007 and God faithfully provided. But beyond His providence of just the car, God proved Himself once again in an amazing way. The number plate for his new car is 4925. Bro. Daniel had previously joked to God that he wanted a number that was easy to remember.
“One day I was reading a book on prayer that had all the names of Jehovah. Then I saw the last one, and the Lord very gently prompted me, and I saw, El Shaddai: Our All-Sufficient God. Genesis 49:25. My car number plate is El Shaddai! Every time I drive, I know that Jesus is sitting next to me.”
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
“Every time we stand and testify of God’s goodness, God rejoices over us with singing. That’s our God. God can be so deeply personal. That is why, everywhere I go, near or far, I will stand before man and always testify of God’s goodness!”
*If you would like to know more about Second Chance Community Home or get involved with/support Bro. Daniel’s ministry, you may contact him at 012-324 6480.
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