Thio Gim Hock prayed for each member of his staff by name and shared the Gospel with them at every opportunity. Photo from Mandarin Orchard Singapore's Facebook page.

Yesterday I was greatly honoured and privileged to conduct the burial funeral of Thio Gim Hock. I was ready for a kind of sad environment that usually surrounds such an event.

I was actually called around 5am yesterday by Gim Hock’s wife, Su Mien, to conduct this.

To my surprise, as I arrived at the house to prepare to go to the cemetery, the family members, who all know Jesus, were somewhat cheerful. I was probably the only one who shed tears.

“God kept him alive and used him to lead thousands of people to know Christ.”

Some of them were even joking: “Now Gim Hock will beat you easily at tennis.”

Gim Hock and I used to torment each other regularly on the tennis court years ago until his knees gave way. He blames me for that and I am not sure he’s forgiven me yet.

But Christians can be mildly cheerful in a sad time like this. The reason is Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

Gim Hock is a precious saint in the sight of God. He’s now with our Lord Jesus Christ with no more pain, no more suffering, no more sorrow, no more sickness. I think many of us envy him now.

God kept him alive

I’ve known Elder Gim Hock for more than 20 years. And he’s told me his testimony.

More than 30 years ago he was diagnosed with a blood thickening condition called polycythemia. The doctor at that time said to him that he had only two years. By then, Gim Hock had come to the Lord.

God kept him alive and used him to lead thousands of people to know Christ. He supported many evangelists generously from many parts of the world. Some of them have flourished and impacted the nations significantly.

About six months ago I met him in his office and he told me that his latest checkup showed that his blood condition had deteriorated. And the doctor was kind of saying to him that his time was running out.

I want to ask you something: If your doctor says to you tomorrow that your time is running out, what would be the most important thing you would want to do?

Well-loved by all who knew him, Thio Gim Hock passed away on April 3, 2020. Screengrab from The Straits Times, April 4, 2020.

What did Gim Hock do?

“The place he wanted to go to was a very dangerous place … The militants there throw grenades into churches, set Christian homes on fire.”

He told me he prayed: “God, let me go one last time to this restricted country and preach the Gospel to the people there.” He had applied for a visa to visit that country and there had been no response from the embassy.

The place he wanted to go to was a very dangerous place. I had been there with him. When we were there, everywhere we went we had armed guards. The militants there throw grenades into churches, set Christian homes on fire. They shoot up congregations and assassinate people who disagree with their extreme religious ideology.

Gim Hock said, at this final stage of his life: “I want to go back there again.”

Almost immediately after the prayer, his phone rang. The voice of the caller said: “Hello, I am so-and-so, high commissioner of the country that he wanted to go to. Your visa is ready for collection.”

Gim Hock and his wife, Su Mien, went and preached to thousands of people in a stadium. They came back with reports of many hundreds turning to follow Jesus Christ, many miracles of healings.

“He prays by name for every single one of his employees to be saved.”

Gim Hock exhibited many of the traits of a person God blesses. Few people know that some of the early land reclamation projects (of Singapore) were actually his idea.

His boss highly honoured him. He’s even told me quietly, at least once, how his boss would call him about his year-end bonus. It would be like seven figures. Then a while later, the boss would call back and double the figure.

His staff respected and loved him. My son works in his company, and he tells me that he is always fair, although straightforward. Gim Hock will often counsel him that he should always seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

Gim Hock will attend weddings. He went to the wedding of a child of a doorman of Mandarin Orchard Hotel.

Most of all he prays by name for every single one of his employees to be saved and he would tell them to follow Jesus, every chance he gets.

To me that is like the portrait that illustrates Psalm 112, a man God blesses. It has been my great privilege to have a friend like that.

My prayer is that at the end of this livestreamed service your heart be inspired to aspire to become someone that God blesses.

Ps Derek Hong shared his memories of his friend, Thio Gim Hock, as he concluded the sermon he preached to his church, Good Gifts City Church, on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

About the author

Ps Derek Hong

Pastor Derek Hong, a long-time friend of Thio Gim Hock, is the senior pastor of Good Gifts City Church.