From Hooligan to Accountant

Chun Seng’s* story of transformation.

I was born an asthmatic, and all too familiar with the incessant coughing, gasping for air, a flushed face, followed by more coughing. If you have ever seen someone suffering an asthmatic attack, it is literally like someone choking to death.

When I was 10 years old, I suffered a particularly serious asthmatic attack. The medication which normally would alleviate my symptoms did not work that day. To make matters worse, my dad started to beat me up and accused me of triggering the asthma attack by having cold drinks. With no one to turn to, I remembered the God that my Christian aunt often talked about. In desperation, I cried out, “Jesus, if You’re real, heal me and I will believe in You.”

That instance on, I was healed of my asthma.

After I was healed, I felt I was given a new lease of life! I started enjoying outdoor activities and made new friends through the Boys’ Brigade. I even got my very first Bible! Though I did not understand many Bible phrases like “abounding grace” and “God is good”, I accepted them with childlike innocence.

However, things did not remain rosy. At 14, plagued by family woes, I had to work part-time at my uncle’s duck rice stall. The taxing demands of work and study left me no choice but to quit the Boys’ Brigade. This went on for many years, causing me to grow apart from most of my good friends. God’s miraculous healing of my asthma became a thing of the past, and gradually, I took it to be a coincidence.

“No money, no honey, sure not happy.”I began to admire my uncle’s prosperity. He was an uneducated man, and yet with a booming business of five duck rice stalls, he could afford a Mercedes Benz! On the other hand, I was getting an education, but had to slog long hours for him and could only buy a pair of Armani jeans after many months of saving. In fact, my first girlfriend dumped me because I was poor. I realised,  “No money, no honey, sure not happy.”

I wanted money and I wanted it fast. I thought I could buy happiness and vowed that I would never be despised again for being poor. Not satisfied with working long hours, I resorted to quicker means to earn money. This led me to bad company who introduced many vices and addictions to me. Smoking, gambling and drinking became my daily lifestyle with my newfound “buddies.” Gang fights were common and would erupt because of senseless staring incidences or lustful courtships. I tried to fill my emptiness with pornography, casual sex, and booze, but these did not work. The sense of loneliness would hit me even more when I woke up to yet another faceless pretty girl beside me after a night of mad clubbing. These “highs” could not satisfy me. Something inside me was crying out, “Is this all there is to life?”

In despair, I wished I could end my life… but I lacked the courage.

During another one of those empty nights, my listless eyes settled on a dusty book on my shelf. It was the Bible from my days with the Boys’ Brigade. I picked it up, read a passage aloud and somehow felt compelled to pray. My girlfriend, who was in bed, saw me on my knees and thought I was insane. But I simply said, “God, if You’re real and You want me back, then You have to give me a proper job… and maybe, a few Christian friends too, ok?”

Shortly after that prayer, I went for my first job interview and God gave me the job! Me, a hooligan “Ah Beng”, now a marketing executive?! However, such a job was neither glamorous nor did it guarantee easy cash. It was a demanding job which required me to sell website designs and I was given a three-month probation period to secure a contract. With a miserly $18 per day to cover my food and transport (and cigarettes), it was a tough life. After months of combing industrial estates and retailers, and making countless cold calls, I still had no success. My concerned marketing senior asked, “Chun Seng, your three-month probation period is almost up. Are you worried?”

Me, a hooligan “Ah Beng”, now a marketing executive?!
With a smoldering cigarette in my mouth, I replied, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

My senior’s jaw literally dropped. He just heard me quote a verse from the Bible! Curiously, he asked if I believed in God. I told him that I was “technically a Christian” because I believed in the Christian God. But I knew that I was not being the person God wants me to be.

It turned out that my senior is a Christian and he invited me to a Christian group gathering. For the first time in a long while, I was surrounded by so many Christian friends. What was memorable was a quote shared by the group leader from the movie Braveheart that goes, “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” I had not truly lived!

After years of pursuing the gods of money, status, and materialism, I was only led to depression. I became a slave to money and had no love or respect for people. I had turned my back on Jesus and wanted to live life my way. However, God did not turn His back on me. He heard and answered my prayers for healing, helped me leave my hooligan lifestyle, gave me a job and friends too! I am grateful to God for transforming me into a new person, for giving me this new life and for being my REASON TO LIVE.

*Not his real name