The supernatural conversion of a village old lady
By Tek Chong
From China to Malaya
My grandmother was a simple village woman from China. She was uneducated, a young widow of a successful businessman who made his fortune in the South Sea lands. But her life was hard. Her husband, following the custom of his peers had many wives. When he died in the far off foreign land the news came that all his wealth was gone with little detail of what and how the mis-ventures occurred. She worked hard to bring up her son, my father in the village.
Later when my father started his own business in Malaya in the town of Malacca, he sent for his mother to join him. So she came and lived in a totally unfamiliar land. But she became our beloved grandmother and we have many fond memories of her. Her main consolation was her grandchildren and her god. Every month she would visit her temple. There she started to prepare to ‘go to heaven’ after her death. The nuns in the temple gave her instructions: a piece of sacred paper was handed to her. In it there was the diagram of a sailing boat. On the boat stretched a big sail covered with a lot of small circles. She was instructed to chant the name of her god. After every 108 times of repeating the name, she was entitled to put a red mark on a circle on the boat. When all the circles are marked, she was assured her boat was ready to sail her across the River of Death & land her safely in the heavenly land. We children were fascinated as we watched her diligently ‘building’ her boat.
Us grandchildren (there were 8 of us) were sent to missionary schools. Several began to attend different Christian activities and started to tell her ‘blasphemous things’ concerning her gods and goddesses. My younger sister, Sung had the audacity to advise her that according to her Sunday school teacher that the proper way of going to Heaven is to believe in the Son of God Jesus Christ. My grandmother would correct her ignorant granddaughter’s mistake by twisting her ears.
As more grandchildren came to talk to her about their ‘red devils’’ God she refused to listen to such foolish talk. Besides her ‘boat’ was almost ready – it was already two thirds full of red spots.
It was time for another grandson to leave home. I was far away in Hong Kong studying, her third grandchild Wai was leaving for Kuala Lumpur for an engineering course. One night the family organised a farewell party for him. The house was crowded with his church friends. In the midst of the eating and singing, my grandmother had a fall. Her hip was in great pain and she could not get out of bed. The next morning after a whole night of sleepless pain, Wai said to her, “I am about to go to university and I’ll be away for many months. Grandma can I tell you that my God Jesus can help you. When you ask Him He can and will heal you.”
A simple but effective prayer
Her temple nuns visited her and they chanted their chants pleading to their gods and goddesses for help. But grandmother’s pain persisted. She could not walk and was in agony. One day when the pain became unbearable in her desperation she remembered her grandchildren’s words. “Why not give it a try,” she reasoned. “There is no answer from my temple gods anyway.” So at that divine moment an old Chinese grandmother prayed to her grandchildren’s God, “Jesus” she said in simple Hakka, “ please heal me and stop my pain. I don’t want to be a cripple.” At that moment this simple one sentence prayer was answered. According to her, her pain was instantly gone. Gingerly she tried to get out of her bed. And she did and she could walk normally with no limp or pain. She declared to her family she has been healed by her grandchildren’s God. She was now a follower of Jesus.
No turning back
When she did not turn up in the temple, the nuns visited her. When they heard her decision, they reprimanded her, “You foolish old lady how can you throw away all the merits you have accumulated all these years – all the precious paper money you have burnt, all your worshipping and chanting…. you throw away all these to follow your grandchildren’s God?!! Come back to the temple. Your boat to heaven is already ready for you.” “My new God Jesus has healed me. I will follow Him.” She burnt her joss sticks and threw away her idols. Her temple sisters began to ostracize her and even spat on her but she never spoke badly about them and could even laugh about it. Her grandchildren arranged for a pastor to visit her & prepare her for water baptism.
Six months later when I returned home from Hongkong for my holidays, the first words she greeted me were, “I have waited all this time for you to take me to go to your church and worship Jesus.” So I had the joy to go to church with my grandmother.
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