I received this from my friend Eric Ng. It was a lovely tribute from a younger brother to a brother who lived alone and died alone. I read it and could not put it down. If it had not been for this well written tribute, the deceased would have been another statistic to add to the increasing numbers who died in their homes (unknown to their loved ones). Another tragic and worrying report in the news with surface information about the person that departed and little about the life he or she lived. This tribute I read gave a beautiful portrait of a man who zealously sought the Lord and shared the good news about Jesus Christ to others. The tribute crowned the stark report with grace and dignity. I felt moved to share this with others through this blogpost, and if it touches your heart, do share this touching tribute with even more people. Here it is:
A SIMPLE TRIBUTE TO A SIMPLE BROTHER
The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once…” (Heb 9:27a). That’s the edict from the Giver of Life who also has the equal right to take back the life when it has reached a destined expiry date.
On 26 June 2023, Shin Min Daily News wrote an article with this as headline: ELDERLY MAN PASSES AWAY IN TOA PAYOH FLAT, PLANTS STARTED WILTING A WEEK EARLIER. How unceremonious an epitaph! Then came the subheading: “77-Year-Old Elderly Man Passes Away In Toa Payoh Flat, Discovered After Foul Smell Detected.” SMDN is correct to make this sad commentary: “Whenever an elderly person who lives alone passes away, it’s always heartbreaking news. This is especially as the deceased would have left this world all alone, with nobody knowing of their demise until a decaying corpse is found.”
But it’s more heart wrenching for his next-of-kin to find out secondhand about this news from others. This lonely, elderly man is my second brother. He lived an ordinary life – ranked 5th in line in a family of 7 siblings.
Growing up with him, I remember his easy-go-lucky lifestyle. He hardly gave my parents any trouble. He was liked in his kampong. His greatest passion was playing hockey. He wasn’t a brilliant student but he got a Grade II result that qualified him to take a job with the civil service.
John grew up in the Westmoreland/Dorset area. Like most of the kampong boys, he smoked, gambled, and spoke with machine-gun speed vulgarities in the Chinese, Malay, and English [his only deficiency was Tamil ]. It wasn’t until 1966/7 that he seasoned his speech with salt and gave up his few vices when he was wondrously converted to Christianity. He became an intrepid witness for Christ. Soon, some of his kampong friends joined him in embracing the Christian faith—when they saw the radical transformation in his life.
Possessed by a passion to win souls for Christ, John began to witness to many of the kampong boys. Not long, he got some of them to follow him to attend a nearby church in Moulmein Rise. The church is still there and is still called Revival Centre. At this time, I had moved out of my mother’s house to live with my sister. But I would visit my mum every week. During those times, John and I would engage in serious conversations—mostly doctrinal and theological in nature. His love for God’s Word was almost unstoppable. He would spend hard earned money to buy books directly from overseas publishers. Many of the books were written by the renowned authors like DeVerne Fromke (Unto Full Stature, Ultimate Intention), C S Lewis (Mere Christianity), Carl F H Henry (Evangelism and Theology based books.
One vicarious benefit I got from John’s enthusiastic witness was in the 1960s when at a special rally conducted by A/G Singapore. Tommy Barnette, the famous evangelist, came to SG and the rally was held at the old Victoria Memorial Hall. That day, Tommy Barnette decided to award the person who brought the most people to the rally. It turned out that John had brought the most people but he told me to go forward on his behalf and accept the ‘reward’ of an LP cut by Tommy Barnette. Thank you John for that special gift.
Some time later, I told John about my church’s weekly Wednesday Bible Study. I boasted about my teacher’s incredible expository skills. That teacher is Sis Margaret Seaward. I was then attending Bethel Assembly. That church was located at 4 Palm Grove Avenue, off Flower Road, off Upper Serangoon Road (famously called Hougang 6th Mile). It was a long journey by bus from my mum’s house in Westmoreland. Despite the inconvenience, John decided to join me in Bethel not only for the Wednesday Bible Study but also the Friday ‘Glory Meeting”, i.e., Pentecostal Prayer Meeting. He never left Bethel until he started a church and called it Lord’s Grace (I may not have this name right, but I knew he started an informal ‘gathering of saints’ to champion his belief of the Apostolic Faith.
I write all these so that my FB friends from CCC/VFC and from the Westmoreland/Dorset group, who’re also friends of my Bro John Lui, should know some of the less known facts about him. John was a recluse and lived a very private life. That accounts for his dying alone and unknown until the news became public in SMDN.
I thank God that some of my friends had read the article in Chinese and could identify from highlighted facts that it was about John. The friends on my WhatsApp group, CCC Staff, alerted me of John’s death. I was only told of this in the late afternoon. That started me doing a bit of enquiries with the police. I could confirm with them that the person identified as a 77-year old man, who died in Blk 174 Toa Payoh, was my brother. Later this morning, I’ll be collecting his body. I will give him a simple cremation and bid him a simple farewell. He’s now in a much better place of comfort and rest—safe in the arms of his loving Saviour and cradled at His bosom.
John, I will meet you soon – over there on the beautiful shore of heaven. What we didn’t get time of earth to share as we did in my younger years, we’ll have eternity to do it! You lived a life that was pleasing to God. I would be remiss, John, if I failed to mention this. As it is, I already failed to say thank you inf life. Now, I want to say a VERY BIG THANK YOU for those years you quietly put the ‘Pentecostal’ handshake and gave me money when I was short of paying my Bible School fees. God used you to be the occasional, miraculous intervention when I was hard up of money. I know God took notice of what you did privately. He will reward you publicly in heaven. Thank you, John.
You had run and completed the race. You can now take your deserved rest in the Presence of your wonderful Lord and Saviour.
I thank God for the privilege of finding out at the very last minute of your demise and body which I will be claiming in two hours’ time. Rest well my dear brother. Until we meet again,
Your brother-in-the-flesh and
An online article about this and other similar deaths can be read HERE.