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4. Canada Days

Chapter 4

Canada Days

How God led me to my first church in Hamilton, Canada

Finally the day arrived for me to fulfill my dream of starting life afresh in a foreign land. At the end of 1980, I flew over to Hamilton, Canada, together with two friends. It was the very first time I had stepped into an airplane. My heart was thumping with joy and excitement! Though I did not know what to expect in the coming days, I was very thankful that at last I could be freed from my sad situation at home. I started Grade 13 education at Columbia Secondary School of Canada in Hamilton from June 1980 to June 1981.

Right from the moment I stepped on the land of Canada, Yahweh God knew my heart and my thoughts. If I had remained in Malaysia, I would have harbored deeper hatred against my parents. I would have lived in self-pity and dread over the pathetic situation I was in. My heart probably would not be open to God to work in me. I strongly believe that God had paved the way for me to go to Canada for a special purpose which was to make the commitment to Him in His time. You will see how God’s perfect plan was fulfilled in me and through me as you read on.

Although at that time I was a so-called unbaptized “Christian,” my heart yearned to attend church service after settling down in Hamilton for two weeks. But I was a brand-new resident in Hamilton, and didn’t have a clue as to which church I should go to. Instead of going ahead in a frantic search, I turned to God once again for His guidance. One Sunday morning, I decided to wake up before sunrise and prayed, “God, please lead me to someone who will bring me to church.”

After that short prayer, I looked out my bedroom win­dow. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw an old couple walking out of the house next door. They were around the age of seventy plus and looked Chinese. What actually caught my attention was that the elderly uncle was holding a big Bible in his hand. I guessed they must be going to church. So I quickly dashed out of my room and went forward to ask him, “Uncle, may I know if you are going to the church?” He replied, “Yes.” Oh wow! How wonderful! How marvelous! That surely was God’s answer to my prayer. My heart was filled with joy and thanksgiving when I heard the old uncle’s short and sweet reply.

After a short conversation, I found out that they were Vietnamese. I asked them if I could accompany them to attend Sunday service. They said, “Sure. We warmly welcome you.” So that was how God had sent someone to lead me to a church. The church I attended was Hamilton Chinese Church, attended mainly by Chinese from many different countries. That was the first amazing miracle I encoun­tered after arriving in Canada. How awesome!

How God saved me from deportation

A year later, I finally graduated from Grade 13 education with flying colors. In July 1981, I started applying for admission to a few universities in Ontario, Canada. At last, I received good news from York University in the city of Toronto. In view of my good performance in Grade 13, York University offered me an entrance scholarship. I accepted the offer immediately. I was looking forward to a new phase of my life as I packed my belongings and moved to Toronto in August 1981.

Around July that year, I decided to take a breather together with a group of friends. We went on a short trip to the city of Ottawa. It was love at first sight when I first set my feet on that lovely city. At that time, some of my Malaysian friends were already studying at Carleton University in Ottawa. They gave us a guided tour of their beautiful campus. I was very impressed with the whole city of Ottawa and immediately fell in love with Carleton University. After that trip, I regretted that I did not pick Carleton University as one of my choices.

After returning from my Ottawa trip, I started my university life at York University, Toronto. I wasn’t keen on any field of study at all apart from music and art studies. In reality, my dad had sent me to Canada to get a degree of his choice, not my choice. It was tough choosing which faculty of study I should pursue. After much consi­deration, in the end I decided on Business Management Studies.

Before the commencement of my first semester at York University, I made blunders in my course selections. I literally had to drag my feet to class every day as I was totally sick of most of the courses. Finally, I decided to make the bravest decision in all my life, which was to submit a letter of withdrawal from York University. After making that decision, if I were to remain in Canada, I would have to apply for a new student visa. The only solution was to attend courses at another college for one term while applying for admission into Carleton University in Ottawa.

I decided to register for some courses at Southern Ontario College in Hamilton. After receiving a letter of acceptance from the college, I proceeded to the Canadian Immigration Office to apply for my new student visa. To my shock, something unexpected happened when I was at the immigration office. I almost suffered a heart attack when the officer refused to issue me a new visa. He said to me, “I am so sorry that I can’t issue you a new visa. We do not encourage students to move backwards! Once you have been accepted by the university of your choice, you should proceed with your studies there and not move backwards to attend a college. You will have to return to York University or risk being deported!”

I was in great shock when I heard the officer’s words! I didn’t expect that outcome. I voiced out to the officer, “Sir, I have withdrawn from York University. I can’t go back there anymore! Please, I beg of you. Please issue me a new visa for my study at Southern Ontario College.” He shook his head while looking at my sorry state. He then told me to give him some time to consult a higher-ranking officer to hear what he has to say about my case.

At that juncture, fear began to creep into my heart. I started sobbing uncontrollably. I refused to accept the offi­cer’s explanation on why I must return to York University. After much consideration, I guess it might be because I was a foreign student. There could be stricter rules imposed on foreigners which were unknown to me.

After a short pause, I remembered that it was God who had opened the way for me to fly over to Canada. I believed with all my heart that He would surely allow me to remain in Canada for some specific reason. God had helped me before and perhaps He will help me again! I was panic stricken, yet I decided to look to God in prayer. My heart uttered an earnest plea to our almighty God Yahweh. I prayed, “God, I am in a fix again! Please save me! I have withdrawn from York University and I can’t go back there anymore. I need a new visa or I will be sent back home to Malaysia. I can’t go home without my degree. My parents might skin me alive! Help me, please!”

It so happened that early that dreadful day, I picked up a silver necklace with a cross pendant to wear it with my smart casual attire before stepping out of my apartment. That necklace was a very special birthday gift which I had received from one of my Christian friends some time ago. While I was crying out to God, suddenly I heard someone call out my name. A higher-ranking officer had taken over my case. The first thing he noticed was my teary red eyes. Then he spotted my silver cross pendant necklace right away. He was a gracious gentleman. I can never forget his bright smiling face and gentle voice. He did not reprimand me for what had happened. At that moment I sensed God’s mighty hands were holding me up when I was about to collapse. That officer must be a guardian angel sent by God to rescue me. After a moment of silence, he gazed at me, and in a soft tone asked me one simple question: “Are you a Christian?”

That question caught me by surprise! My immediate thought was, “Dear me, what is the connection between a Christian and my visa approval?” In actual fact, there was no connection whatsoever. But I won­dered why he posed such a question.

In any case, I regarded myself as a Christian because I was told that once I say the “sinner’s prayer” and invite Jesus into my life, I am a Christian. So my reply to the officer was, “Yes, I am a Christian.” To my amazement, he did not ask me any further questions. He nodded his head as a sign of approval. Thereafter he issued me a new student visa! Before I stepped out of his office room, he gave me a bright smile, shook my hand, and wished me all the best. In my heart I exclaimed, “Oh my goodness! That was a narrow escape. Once again God has made my day in the nick of time!” My heart gave thanks to Yahweh God for saving my life!

After receiving my new student visa, I left the immigra­tion office with a big sigh of relief. That was absolutely incredible! I was overwhelmed by God’s intervention. I thanked God for coming to my aid. From that day onwards, I began to think hard about getting serious with God.

How God led me to a church in Ottawa, Canada

Finally I was accepted by Carleton University, in January 1982. I looked forward to my new school year and my new life in Ottawa. After three weeks of campus life, I began to miss attending church service. I prayed and asked God, “God, please lead me to a church.” Lo and behold, one day, while I was walking to my class, a striking poster caught my attention. I stopped to take a closer look. The heading of the poster read, “Ottawa Chinese Bible Church — Welcome new students night”. I read further to see the date of the event. Oh dear, what a pity! It was too late! That special event was over, having taken place three weeks earlier! Though I was disappointed, I decided to jot down the address of the church in case I might wish to go there one day.

In the 80s we did not have mobile phones or email. The only way to get in touch with the pastor of Ottawa Chinese Bible Church (OCBC) was by postal mail. So I wrote a letter to the pastor and explained to him that I wish to visit his church. He wrote me a heartwarming reply. His name is David Pan. In his letter he offered to fetch me to church on the following Sunday. The congregants were mainly Chinese. The church held its service on Sunday afternoons at a rented premise in downtown Ottawa. I attended the Sunday service at Ottawa Chinese Bible Church for about a month. After that I stopped attending due to some intense struggles I was facing.

God’s protection when I was suffering from depression

In February 1982, I started my school year at Carleton University. I was facing a lot of struggles in my studies. The root of the problem was my dislike of the area of study I was pursuing. At that time, I was quite rebellious, and said to myself, “Since I cannot pursue my dream to be a musician or an artist, it really does not matter what choice I make in my education path. All I need to do is to attain a bachelor’s degree for my parents’ sake.”

As I advanced into my second year, my struggles intensified. Eventually I sank into depression. I often cried uncontrollably and began to develop suicidal thoughts every now and then. The truth of the matter was that I didn’t even know I was suffering from depression.

There was one time when I had to sit for an examination. The night before the exam, I did not sleep a wink. I was crying and mourning all through the night. The next day when I walked into the examination room, my mind was totally blank. I scored an F for that course. It was the first time in my life that I had a fail in my studies. I couldn’t accept my failure, and as a result, I sank deeper into depression.

Looking back, our gracious God Yahweh must have been keeping watch over me during those darkest moments of my life. Although I had suicidal thoughts, I did not commit the act of ending my life. It must have been another divine intervention that prevented me from committing that grave mistake.

In my struggles, I met a course-mate from India. She was a kindhearted lady who would often listen to me about my woes. At that time, she must have been the soulmate sent by God to encourage and comfort me when I was sinking deeper into depression. She shared with me that she had joined a Christian Bible study group on campus, namely, Campus Crusade for Christ. The group leader was a Canadian lady.

My Indian friend was very concerned about my plight. She wished I would spend more time getting to know God through some systematic Bible studies. She invited me to join her and five others in their weekly Bible study session which was held on campus. I decided to join her in attend­ing the Bible study sessions on a regular basis. Through the study sessions, I began to understand more about the teachings in the Bible.

A Friend in Need (September 2014)


God redirected me back to Ottawa Chinese Bible Church again

Ever since I started attending regular Bible study sessions, I began to pray more fervently. With the change in attitude, I discovered I was slowly fading away from depression. I guess it must have been God who was leading me out of depression. Thank Yahweh God for His mercy and love.

One day, while I was taking a short nap in the library cubicle after a long night of working on my assignment, I heard an inner voice. It was a faint voice that said to me, “Please go back to Ottawa Chinese Bible Church! I have something in store for you there!” I woke up from my sleep in a state of shock! I wondered, “Where did that voice come from?” I looked around me; there wasn’t anyone at the cubicle. There was only me and me alone!

After that strange encounter, I sensed a very strong force which urged me to go back to Ottawa Chinese Bible Church. I knew it was the work of the Holy Spirit. Without much consideration, I decided to obey that voice and returned to that church once again.

When I returned to Ottawa Chinese Bible Church, Pastor David Pan greeted me with open arms. Amazingly, three of my Campus Crusade Bible study group members were already in that church. That motivated me to stay on com­fortably. Upon returning, I was very eager to find out why on earth did that voice I heard at the library instruct me to return to Ottawa Chinese Bible Church once again? What was God’s plan for me?

Besides attending the Sunday service, I started joining the Youth Fellowship which was held every Friday evening. There were about thirty plus attendees, mostly foreign students from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong. As I was very eager to find out what God’s plan for my life was, I started to become an active church member. I joined the church choir, and helped out in some church work.

After some time, the Pastor of the Youth fellowship decided to recruit new members to serve in the Youth Fellowship. He knew I could sing well and he thought it would be great if I could be in charge of the Youth Fellowship Singspiration Ministry. He also recruited my future husband Bong as the chairman of the Youth Fellowship. I thank God for granting me the opportunity to serve in the music ministry. He had placed me at the right place to serve Him in His time!

In those days, Bong, my future husband, was studying at the University of Ottawa while I was at Carleton University. Apart from meeting each other in church, we seldom see each other. However, after co-working with Bong for a period of time, both of us felt very comfortable with each other’s companionship. I believed Bong must have consulted God regarding His will for both of us.

One day, he initiated a meet up. To my surprise during that meeting, he didn’t ask me if I would be willing to be his girlfriend as what we often see in TV dramas. Instead, he said to me, “If I were to go for full-time training and thereafter serve God as a full-time worker, will you be willing to follow me?” That question caught me by surprise but my reply to him was immediate. I said, “Yes, I will.” That was how we started a relationship in 1984!

Soon our church brethren got to know of our relation­ship. Out of deep concern for me, a church brother from Malaysia asked me, “I gathered from you that one of the reasons you escaped to Canada was that you disliked Bahasa Malaysia. I understand that you and Bong are now in a relationship. How will you cope in Indonesia when Bahasa Indonesia is the main language of communication, which is very similar to Bahasa Malaysia, the language you dislike?” I replied, “I will go wherever God wants me to go. God will surely enable me to cope with the language for I know that everything is possible with God.” That was the power of love!

As the days went by, I continued to learn more about what it means to be a true disciple of Christ. Finally, on 15th April 1984, I made my commitment to God. It was a glorious day when Pastor David Pan baptized me in a beautiful church. So, at last I found the answer to that voice which directed me back to Ottawa Chinese Bible Church once again.

There were two reasons:

Firstly, to know the true and living God Yahweh and to make my commitment to Him.

Secondly, to know my future better half who would serve God together with me.


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