Personal Stories

David Siow

My name is David Daniel Siow Peng Guan. I was born in 1975. I would like to share with you my personal journey from being involved in all the different kinds of illegal activities to eventually acknowledging my sins and accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.

I would like to begin with my various convictions and end by sharing with you how I was saved by Jesus.

My history of prior convictions were as follows:

1988 – Criminal Trespassing – Stern Warning
1991 – Registered Fighter in the SSB – Stern Warning
1992 – Drug Consumption – DRC Pending [1 week] – Under Urine Supervision @ AMK Police Station
1992 – Vehicle Theft – Probation
1993 – Vehicle Theft & Drug Consumption – Sentenced 25 Months (RTC)
1996 – Drug Consumption – Sentenced 12 months (DRC)
1997 – Breach Of Probation – Sentenced 6 months (RTC Recall)
1997 – Drug Trafficking & Drug Consumption – Sentenced 21 Years and 15 strokes of the cane

Being young and naïve, I always sought companionship which I thought would give me a sense of power and strength. I was 13 years old when I had my first brush with drugs and sleeping pills. Thereafter, I progressed to cannabis and heroin. However, I did not feel that that was enough for me. I joined the secret society 08 group Hai Lok San, which was the largest secret society in Singapore, dealing in illegal money lending and prostitution.

I felt powerful as I was a fighter in our group. I was trained in some form of self-defence in the early 90s in Geylang. Things got worse when I became deeply involved with my gang and handled the surveillance of rival gangs. Nonetheless, my own issue was with drugs. I went to DRC at the age of 16 and subsequently got more drug connections.

I dealt with huge amounts of drugs and by God’s grace, I was caught at the age of 21. I escaped the gallows by 0.45 grams of diamorphine. I did not have any remorse even after my sentencing. I went on to handle more hardcore gang members in prison. One day, unable to control my stress, I initiated a gang fight in prison. I was locked up in a confinement cell for 7 months under the Zero Tolerance Programme (ZTP). I had nothing in the cell except a bible. It was only after two and a half months under confinement that I read the bible. I became especially touched by the gospel songs sung by fellow inmates and prison volunteers every Sunday in the adjacent block. I accepted Christ as my own personal saviour in August 2003 after I was released from the ZTP.

Things changed for the better after that. I was accepted by the KBC Prison school which allowed me to finish my general education: Secondary levels 1 to 3, followed by GCE N, O, and A level in 2011. After my release from prison school, I was selected by Citech (a private school) to complete my Diploma in Accounting & Finance and proceeded to obtain my degree from the University of Gloucestershire (UOG) in the same discipline. I went on to pursue a master’s degree in Social Work from Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) in 2018 through part-time study, but withdrew after two years due to work and volunteering commitments.

In 2011, I met Philip Lim, who became my mentor as well as my good brother in Christ. On top of that, he is like a fatherly figure to me, and he guides me throughout my education journey up till now. Philip was in the panel of interviewers in the Yellow Ribbon Fund STAR Bursary (Skills Training Assistance to Re-start) Programme when I was interviewed.  He became my mentor and encouraged me to continue my studies.  I found out that he is also a prison volunteer with Christian Counselling Service (CCS).  He told me that CCS has many volunteers like himself who spend their time visiting inmates and sharing with them the Gospel.  Many inmates were moved and encouraged by the sincerity and love given to them from the volunteers, enabling them to feel God’s unconditional love for them.

Even though I have an Accounting & Finance degree, I was not able to get a finance industry job. I was turned down by more than 10 companies. Life is tough but nonetheless, in good times or bad times, I still praise God for guiding me all this while.

I am currently a volunteer at the Taman Jurong GRC, as well as a full-time staff in Tasek Jurong Limited guiding youths-at-risk and ex-offenders. I am also with the Beacon of Life (BOL) which is made up of ex-offenders who have committed themselves to changing their lives and have a desire to help other ex-offenders to get on the right path. This group was founded by several ex-inmates.

Editor’s Note: David is presently an in-care volunteer counsellor of CCS and serving as Honorary Treasurer of CCS Executive Committee.

Jack Wong

I grew up in a broken family as my parents divorced when I was very young. I left school when I was in Primary 5. I soon joined some gangs and became involved in various gang activities. I experimented with heroin out of curiosity. But I was soon hooked and became a drug addict. Little would I expect that for the next twenty years, I would be enslaved by the drug and spend my lives going in and out of the drug rehabilitation centers (DRC) and prisons.

Despite my addiction, I was married in 2002 and soon had a son. I remembered one occasion when I had to resort to snatching the money for my son’s milk from my wife to satisfy my craving for drugs. I still feel very guilty each time I recall this incident. The marriage eventually broke down after 6 years.

A year before the divorce, I went overseas to work. I thought that with a good remuneration and a new environment, I would be able to kick the drug habit. Unfortunately, it was not as easy as I thought. When I was there, I had a workplace accident – my right leg was broken when a piece of heavy metal fell on me. I was hospitalized for more than three months. While in hospital, my craving for drugs was so strong that I contacted my friends to supply me with the heroin in the ward.

My past folly has caused my family to despise me. I ended up with a broken family as well as a broken leg. I was feeling guilty and depressed. I felt that life was meaningless. I cried out for someone to help me and set me free from the bondage of drug and sin. I thank God that He heard me and out of His mercy led me to a halfway house where I received His love and abundant blessings. Under the guidance of the staff and leaders of Breakthrough Missions, I gave my life to Jesus and by God’s grace, my life was slowly transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

In 2009, I joined the staff of the halfway house in one of their work therapy ministries. I was in the foot reflexology (脚底推拿) services. It was a job that I enjoyed because it gave me the opportunity to share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ while I was performing the massage services for my clients. I was also involved in a praise group at Breakthrough Missions. I had many opportunities to share my testimony and spread the Gospel. I pray that I will continue to serve Him and be His useful tool to glorify His Name and bring more people into His kingdom.

I am reminded of Psalm 105:1 “O give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name, make known His deeds among the people”.

To God be the Glory for the things He has done!

Editor’s Note: Jack is presently an in-care counselor of CCS and goes into prison regularly to share with the inmates about how God has changed his life.

Darren Lim

My name is Darren Lim. At the age of 14, I dropped out of school and joined the secret society. I mixed around with bad company and started smoking and drinking. Subsequently, I experimented with sleeping pills and cannabis. Out of curiosity and encouraged by my peers, I even tried heroin. I was so contented with my carefree life and felt that only drugs could give me a sense of freedom and satisfaction. When I was enlisted into National service, I continued my wayward ways. Despite the strict regimentation in camp, my addiction grew stronger. After my two years’ service, I was completely hooked on heroin and was not even interested in looking for a job. Instead, I was spending my time desperately trying to satisfy my yearning for drugs. In order to satisfy my drug crave, I put aside my self-esteem and stole money and jewelry from my mother. I did a lot of unthinkable things…

In 1995, the law caught up with me. Intoxicated on sleeping pills and heroin, I attempted to shoplift but was caught. After my urine was tested positive, I was charged with theft and drug abuse. I was sentenced to six month imprisonment. But the punishment could not save me from drug craving. My parent’s tears, love and care could not save me either. On contrary, I became more rebellious. Immediately after my release, I consumed drugs again. In 1996, I was caught and sent to the drug rehabilitation center (DRC). The one year in the DRC was horrid. I suffered terribly from the withdrawal symptoms and had to battle with my inner self. After I was released, I was placed on a two-year urine supervision regime. However, I lacked will-power and allowed my drug addiction to get the better of me. After numerous attempts to avoid the urine tests, I got caught again and this time for drug consumption and possession. I was sentenced to 14 months of imprisonment. One day, while serving my sentence, my sister visited me and informed me that my mother was diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing radiotherapy. At that moment, my heart sank.

Finally, I was released. I felt tired. I was frustrated and deeply distressed about my frequent stays in the prisons and DRC. Deep down in me, I wanted to repent. I dreaded the despaired look on my mother’s and my family members’ faces. I truly wanted to abandon this decadent lifestyle. But I always failed. After merely three months of staying clear of drugs, I got restless and succumbed to temptation again.

One night in 1998, after I arranged to meet one of the drug dealers at a void-deck, I was apprehended in an ambush by the CNB officers. I was not aware that the government had passed a stricter law on drug abuse by then. As a result, I was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment and 3 strokes of cane, instead of the 18-month imprisonment and cold turkey treatment. Devastated and shocked, I became very disgruntled. I felt that injustice had been done. During my first two years in prison, I was recalcitrant. In fact, I was active in gang activities despite being in prison. As time passed, I got fed up with this way of life and resolved to start afresh. I was fascinated by how my friends who had undergone Christian counselling emerged as better and happier persons.

With encouragement from the Christian brothers, I took the bold step forward to attend the chapel service. I was enlightened! I mean…such a wretch like me can be saved! I felt peace and joy in my heart despite my circumstances. I thank God for the counselors who have been my guiding lights. Through their encouraging words, love and care, I was able to stand up again and could look forward to my future. Through them, I experienced the power and truth of Christ’s resurrection. With new hope came new opportunities. In my last few years in prison, I was selected to enroll in the prison’s school and completed my secondary 3 education. During my final six months of the sentence, I was given an opportunity to go to a half-way house. God is really gracious! He led me to the Renewal Self-Development Center.

I am grateful for the love and support that the center provided. I felt a sense of satisfaction whenever I was able to help fellow ex-offenders by sharing my experience with them. After completion of the program, I continued to serve God in Renewal center as a member of the staff. My path ahead was filled with love, hope and vision. On the road from Want to Abundance, the Lord not only blessed me with material things but also spiritual growth so that I could enjoy the peace and love in Him. After serving in Renewal center for a year, God had other plans for me. An Elder from the Glad Tidings Church, where I am currently attending, offered to train me as a locksmith in his business. Today he is my father in-law.

Seeing that my life had changed, my mother’s heart was filled with comfort and joy. Whenever my church members visited her, she would always be there to witness my transformed life. Praise the Lord! In 2005, she accepted Lord Jesus as her personal savior and was baptized. She succumbed to her illness and went home to the Lord in April 2005. I still miss her a lot, for she is my beloved mother forever. I could not repay her anything, but I am glad that she found the real peace in Jesus.

I would say again and again that it is through God’s grace that I got to know Mary in church. She is the daughter of the Elder whom I am working for. I am very thankful that her family is willing to accept me when I was dating their daughter who is 10 years younger than me. Thanks be to God, on 18th August 2007, Mary and I tied our nuptial knot at the Glad Tidings Church.

If not for God’s love and grace, who would want to marry their daughter to an ex-drug addict? Now I have a virtuous wife and a home of my own. In terms of material needs, God has blessed me abundantly. I am now running the locksmith business on my own. Spiritually, God has used me in His church’s ministry, and also in prison’s ministry. Through the support and trust by SANA CCS, I have been able to share the Gospel to the inmates in Changi Prison Complex (CPC) fortnightly. May I continue to be used by God in His ministry to help and spread His love to those in need. Glory be to God! He has always been leading and guiding me since the day I accepted Christ as my Savior. No words can describe my joy in serving Him. I pray that the Lord will continue to guide me and lead me to witness and glorify His holy name. May all glory and praise be unto our Father in Heaven, Amen!

Editor’s Note: Darren is presently the Vice-President of CCS and devotes much of his free time to counsel and help ex-drug addicts and ex-prisoners.

Desmond Teng

Mr Desmond Teng’s desire to come forward to help the ex-drug addicts comes mainly from his own experience of God’s grace in his life. Having been under the bondage of drugs and subsequently delivered by God, he feels that he is in an unique position where he can effectively minister to those still under the bondage. He understands their struggles between changing for good and succumbing to the desire of the flesh.

His life of substance-abuse and crime started in his early teens. By the time he was in his twenties, he had "graduated" to narcotics. Drug Rehabilitation Centers and the prison became his regular abode. Then, in 1999, he was caught with a substantial amount of narcotics on him. In accordance with the tough Singapore law, he was facing the death sentence.

Suddenly, his world collapsed. For the first time in his life, Desmond realized that he was on a one-way road to hell with no turning back. Fear gripped him. And there was nothing he could do to change his fate. It was then that he met a Christian brother, Darren, who shared the good news of Jesus with him. Yearning for the peace that he saw in Darren, he repented and accepted Jesus as his personal savior. Slowly, he began to have peace that he had never experienced before. He realized that God had given him the option to choose where he wanted to go after leaving this world. His heart was full of joy and peace despite facing the death sentence.

As it turned out, the amount of drugs found on him did not warrant the mandatory death sentence. He was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment instead. During the incarceration, he attended Bible Study classes diligently to learn more about God. At the same time, he also took up the BEST program to improve himself.

His trials and temptations did not end upon his release. In fact, his family was so disappointed with him that they had moved and had not bothered to inform him. But he clung on to God’s promise in Psalms 27. This verse in the psalm held special meaning to him: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” Psalms 27:10.

By God’s grace, he managed to secure a job as a driver shortly after his release despite his records. He even managed to buy a HDB flat for himself six months later.

Over the years, Desmond has moved on from a driver, to a technician, supervisor and he is now working as a service engineer in a marine engineering firm. All these would not have been possible if not for the grace of God and his divine providence.

Having been liberated from the bondage of sins and drugs, he has a deep yearning to help others break free from their yokes of sins. He knows that many of the ex-drug addicts want to change, but they cannot do so by their own strength. Someone needs to tell them about God and how He can help them. Having gone through that path himself, he hopes that he can help those who are still lost find the true way.

So, in late 2008, following the example of Abraham mentioned in Hebrews 11:8, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going”, he took the step of faith and joined the SANA CCS to become a volunteer. He was enrolled in the basic training course for volunteers organized by SANA to be trained as a counselor. In the mean time, he is going in to the prison every week to help to conduct the weekly worship service for the inmates.

It is his prayer that his testimony and his experience can emphatically demonstrate God’s love and power so that more souls, especially those ensnared by drugs, can be saved.