Pulled back from the brink of death, he was given a second chance

This Good Friday-Resurrection Sunday, Salt&Light brings you stories of faith, hope and love, unexpectedly born out of the ashes of death. Paul's story is one of Life after Death.

by Geraldine Tan // April 20, 2019, 2:22 am

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Just days after their return from celebrating Paul's birthday in Bali, he started to run a high fever before his lungs failed. All photos courtesy of Indira d/o Suppiah.

A persistent high fever turned life threatening overnight after Paul Chandran s/o GK’s lungs failed completely. His body system shut down after his oxygen level fell dangerously low to under 40%.

Doctors put him on life support and gave him a 10% chance of survival after diagnosing him with acute respiratory distress syndrome and severe pneumonia.

Looking at Paul today, one would never have guessed that this burly man was fighting for his survival just two years ago.

“The Lord gave me a second chance,” said Paul, recalling how he encountered Jesus on his deathbed.

“God has no use for me”

Although Paul had accepted Jesus and was baptised in 2002, he admitted: “I was not right with God in every sense. I used to be a Sunday church-goer, I went because family went. There was no real hunger for God.”

“Why is God not talking to me? Is it because I’m not worthy?”

His inability to hear God speak made him question his worth before God’s eyes.

“Why is God not talking to me? Is it because I’m not worthy? I’m not educated? I’m not rich?” he would often ask his wife, Indira d/o Suppiah.

Things at home were tense as well. His bad temper and an earlier decision to walk out on the family had strained his relationship with his three children.

Despite Indira’s forgiveness, he continued living in his old ways, convinced that God had no use for a man like him.

Until that fateful day on January 27, 2017.

“My God is a miracle-working God”

Doctors warned that he may not survive the journey. And even if he did, the ECMO treatment was risky as he was susceptible to stroke, brain haemorrhage and internal bleeding. At best, he would need to be in a medically-induced coma for three to six months for his lungs to recover.

The specialist assigned to Paul’s case told the family: “I’m not a miracle worker; this is the only option I can give you.”

Despite the dire prognosis, Indira, who has now been married to Paul for more than 26 years, said in her heart: “I know you’re not a miracle worker but my God is a miracle-working God.”

The family’s faith was put to the test as the days passed with news of either no improvement or that Paul’s condition was worsening. Exhausted with worry and sleeplessness, Indira and Esther broke down one night. They sought the rest that would come from the peace and love of God.

“The Lord says we don’t have to worry about anything. He is the Healer and dad was His responsibility.”

In His mercy, God gave Esther a vision – she saw two angels by her father’s bed and God placing a blanket of comfort over him.

The Lord told her: “I’m sending these two angels, the angel of strength and the angel of courage, for your dad as well as for the family. These angels are there and they will take charge.”

As she saw the vision, she also sensed angelic presence in the room.

She shared with her mother what the Lord had impressed on her heart: “The Lord says we don’t have to worry about anything because He’s the One standing at the battle line for us. He is the Healer and dad is His responsibility. He asked if we would trust Him.”

Paul was in a medically-induced coma so that his lungs could be given a chance to heal on its own.

Paul was in a medically-induced coma so that his lungs could be given a chance to heal on their own.

That night onwards, they were able to sleep through the night as an inexplicable peace came over the house and Paul’s ward.

But God was far from being done.

Just in time

The family’s friends from cell group and church rallied around them during this time, coming down often to pray for Paul and supporting the family in whatever ways they could. (Ecclesiastes 4:9:10, Galatians 6:2)

Two weeks into Paul’s hospitalisation, Indira’s close friend from cell group, Elsie Low, was awoken at 3am after visiting him the day before. She felt a burden to pray for him and asked the Lord where his soul was.

As she prayed, the Lord told her that He wanted Paul to come into true repentance, or he would perish. (Revelation 2:5)

“I believe You are not done with my husband yet!”

The Lord’s reply shook Elsie. She hurried to NUH later that day to share with Indira what she had heard.

What Elsie shared confirmed what the Lord has spoken to Indira earlier. As Indira loved cooking and was particular about cleanliness, He asked her: “Would you buy a chicken and cook it without first cleaning it?”

“I would clean it before cooking,” replied Indira.

“So likewise, I have to cleanse Paul to make sure he comes into true repentance with me,” said the Lord.

Together with Esther, they stepped into Paul’s ICU ward on February 4, 2017, to pray the sinner’s prayer with him.

Indira celebrating Valentine's Day with Paul a day after he was moved to the recovery ICU.

Indira celebrating Valentine’s Day with Paul a day after he was moved to the recovery ICU.

Knowing that he was in a medically-induced coma, Elsie told Paul: “Uncle, I know your spirit is alive. So, I’m going to lead you into a sinner’s prayer. Squeeze my hand, make a slight movement in your body, anything, so I know that you’ve heard this prayer.”

“I know you are not a miracle worker, but my God is.”

When Elsie finished praying, Indira noticed tears rolling down Paul’s eyes.

“I believe he has heard this prayer. Whether he chooses to perish or to come back to God, that is for him and God to deal with,” Elsie told Indira.

Like the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-5, Indira continued to declare: “God, You will make him walk out of this hospital alive. We will tell of Your glory because You are the God who brought him back to life.

“You will not let him go because You do not want him to perish without knowing You. I believe You are not done with my husband yet!”

Hell is real

Unbeknown to his family and friends, a fearful experience was awaiting Paul. In his coma, he was taken to hell, he said.

“Many people think hell is a joke but what I experienced was not a dream,” said Paul, now 62.

After many stages, he was taken to a hot, dark place, where he could smell burning sulphur.

He described two demons that looked like tall locusts with humanoid features, chasing and tormenting him with spears and arrows.

“Jesus, give me one more chance! Let me go back to my family … I’m not ready to face God!”

There was also a third demon with red eyes and a black, charred human body – cracks on the body revealed red, raw flesh. This demon taunted him: “How do you like the torture? How do you like the pain?”

“I was crying and shouting in pain and fear. I ran but I couldn’t hide anywhere. I sensed a dark force pulling me through the ground to another level. I could not breathe as the heat and the smell of burning sulphur from the ground choked me.

“I was sinking and with only half my face and an arm above ground, I finally cried out: ‘Jesus, give me one more chance! Let me go back to my family … I’m not ready to face God.’

“Instantly a light shone into the pitch-darkness and His hands snatched my arm and pulled me up from the pit. That was when I woke up from the coma. When I saw my family, I started to cry.

“On the one hand, joy, but on the other, fear clutched me because of what I had experienced.”

Recovery at God-speed 

Paul’s subsequent recovery was miraculous, taking the doctors and his family by surprise.

His lungs recovered in three-and-a-half weeks instead of the three to six months that doctors had predicted. Medical tests also showed that he did not suffer any ill effects from the ECMO treatment.

The Lord restored Paul's strength in just a week. He was unable to even lift his hand to scratch his nose when he first entered the nursing home.

The Lord restored Paul’s strength in just a week. He was unable to even lift his hand to scratch his nose when he first entered the nursing home.

He was moved to the Senja Nursing Home, where he was expected to be in rehabilitation for three weeks.

“Even when I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, He was right there beside me.”

His family visited him that day and after they left, as he lay in bed, he prayed and asked God to strengthen him so that he could be discharged quickly, as the nursing home was quite a distance from the family home.

He made such quick progress that he was discharged in just five days, on February 25, 2017, and was assigned to a rehabilitation facility located just a few blocks from his home. A planned two-week rehabilitation programme was subsequently reduced to five days.

“God’s goodness, love and mercy were always there. Even when I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, He was right there beside me, just waiting for me to call on His name,” said Paul. (Psalm 23)

A second chance

Two years on, Paul is a transformed man.

“Because Jesus was the only name I called on, it couldn’t have been any other gods who pulled me out from hell,” he reasoned.

God also restored his relationship with his children. Esther, 25, who used to harbour anger towards Paul for abandoning the family when she was 10, threw him a retro-themed birthday party last year.

(Left to right) Kelvin, Paul, Indira and Esther celebrating Paul's 62nd birthday with family and friends.

(Left to right) Kelvin, Paul, Indira and Esther celebrating Paul’s 62nd birthday with family and friends.

Paul had had a rocky relationship with his son Kelvin, who had stopped attending church. Kelvin has now returned to the faith – his father’s miraculous recovery played a big part in drawing him back to God.

“We do get angry, we do argue, but not like before,” said Kelvin, 24, as he poured his dad a drink during the interview.

“Now he is a lot more caring and loving,” beamed Indira, 52. “He even helps out with the cooking, the housework, and goes marketing for the family.” 

Paul (right) on duty with the rest of his team mates from Cornerstone Community Church's compliance ministry.

Paul (right) on duty with the rest of his teammates in Cornerstone Community Church’s compliance ministry.

Paul is not only attending cell group with Indira regularly and serving in Cornerstone Community Church’s compliance ministry, he also went on his first mission trip to the Philippines with his wife in December 2018. 

As he delved into the Word of God, he discovered that what he had experienced in hell was exactly how John had described it in Revelation 9. 

His cell group turned up in full strength at Paul's second baptism in May 2018.

His cell group turned up in full strength at Paul’s baptism in May 2018.

Today, the private hire driver takes every opportunity to share his testimony, whether it is with family, friends or even passengers who hop into his car.

“I believe that my experience was that of Jeremiah 29:13-14 – when we seek the Lord with all our hearts, He will bring us back.

“I believe with all my heart that this is a second chance to live my life for Him. I’ve never had a testimony to share and I believe He has given me one so I can glorify Him!”

“Till we meet again, Harold boy”

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About the author

Geraldine Tan

Geraldine is a former news journalist, public relations practitioner and research editor with a penchant for puns, punctuation and a positive attitude. She is always up for the next new adventure and is on a quest to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Geraldine is now Assistant Editor at Salt&Light.