I thank God for His mighty work in my life. I was a drug abuser since 1984 and was in and out of prison and drug rehabilitation centre (DRC) for over twenty years.
When I was in prison, my cellmates or the officers would ask me what I would do after my release. I would invariably reply that I would get a job and earn a decent living; avoid my group of old friends; and spend more time at home to take care of my parents. Yet, each time after I finished the two-year mandatory urine test, I would return back to the drug habit with a vengeance and ended up in the DRC again. I was hooked on drugs and pills, and was always struggling with family and martial problems. My life seemed to be spiraling into hell with no way out.
In 1999, I was sent to the Turning Point Female Halfway House for a six-month programme. There, I was introduced to God. I started attending the SANA-CCS fellowship in 2000 and had been doing so ever since. Then, in 2002, I became pregnant – but the baby was outside the womb and a miscarriage became a frightening possibility. I started praying for God to intervene. I now thank God for my healthy and obedient six-year-old son! Without this miracle, I think I would still be in prison or DRC. Without God, I would not have any meaning in life.
In 2006, I was deeply hurt by my husband and almost wanted to go back to my old ways. I was constantly living in frustration and even contemplated suicide. I am grateful to the halfway house staff and Christian friends who have lent me a listening ear and have given me much care, love and concern. In 2007, I attended a Christmas outreach program organized by COOS in Breakthrough Halfway House. After which, I joined the COOS cell group and eventually ready to be baptized. Upon seeing how my life had changed, my father, who had earlier vehemently objected to my conversion, finally gave me his permission for me to get baptized. I was baptized on Good Friday, 21 March 2008.
Before my baptism, I used to smoke at least twenty cigarettes a day and indulge in 4D and Toto every week. On the day of my baptism, I prayed fervently for God to take away my urge to smoke and gamble. The next day, I felt miraculously freed from the urge to smoke and the desire to buy 4D. Even until today, I do not have that urge or desire! All my troubles seemed to have vanished! Hallelujah, Praise The Lord!
It is truly as God says in Philippians (4:13): "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."
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 jewellery 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 centre (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 counsellors 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 enrol 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 Centre.
I am grateful for the love and support that the centre 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 programme, I continued to serve God in Renewal centre 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 centre 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 saviour and was baptised. 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 Saviour. 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!
Mr Desmond Teng, 42, is one of the new volunteers who has joined us recently in our ministry to the ex-drug addicts. Desmond presently worships at the Christian Parousia Fellowship (Singapore) with his wife.
His 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 Centres 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 saviour. Slowly, he began to have peace that he had never experienced before. He realised 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 programme 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 counsellor. 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.