Mdm Loh Cheong Tai (pictured with her second grandson), celebrating her 100th birthday with family and friends. All photos courtesy of Jennifer Wong.

A petite woman with a cloud of white around her head, neatly brushed and fastened with hairpins, dressed in a long-sleeved patterned blouse with a ribbon down the front, Mdm Loh Cheong Tai sits in a wheelchair with a clear and steady gaze.

As one of 1,500 centenarians in Singapore, the great-great grandmother at 105 has outlived two of her three children. She is hard of hearing and has lost all her teeth, but radiates an uncommon serenity.

Through interpretation by her youngest child Jennifer Wong, 71, Mdm Loh shared in Cantonese about her struggles and worries – and how she came to find peace at the ripe age of 95.

Sole breadwinner

Mdm Loh came to Singapore from China and married a tailor. She picked up sewing to help her husband in his business.

But her husband died when their three children were still young, leaving her as the family’s sole breadwinner.

Mdm Loh now lives with her youngest child, Jennifer Wong, with whom she enjoys a close relationship.

She continued to work as a seamstress, but it was not enough to make ends meet. So she switched to being a live-in helper at a nearby house. That meant that she could only visit her own home a few times a week to drop off groceries for her children who had to learn to care for themselves.

This continued for over 10 years until her children became adults and got married.

When her second son was in his 50s, she went to live with him and his family. Her two sons have since passed on.

“I could not get along very well with the younger generation in my family,” Mdm Loh recalled.

“There always seemed to be disagreements and miscommunication. I was frequently very upset and had many worries.”

Promise of peace

On her regular walks around the neighbourhood, Mdm Loh got to know friendly neighbours – staff at Living Sanctuary Brethren Church – who stopped to chat with her. 

“One day, Lin Pak told me, ‘You look very worried all the time. Could you share with me why?’”

She soon invited them to her home and became good friends with one of them. One of her new friends was a woman named Lin Park.

“One day, Lin Pak told me, ‘You look very worried all the time. Could you share with me why?’” recalled Mdm Loh.

Mdm Loh visited a temple related to her faith every week. She was worried because she had no offspring to perform religious rituals on her death, as her only surviving child, Jennifer, is a Christian.

Over time, Lin Park gently introduced Mdm Loh to the teachings of Jesus, explaining the peace He offers and the promise of life after death to those who trust in Him.

Mdm Loh said: “I did not know about other religions until Lin Pak spoke with me.”

“Show me a sign”

One day, Mdm Loh told God: “If You are real and want me to accept You, show me a sign and prove it to me.”

Shortly after, she had a dream. In it, she saw the back of a man. It astonished her. She instinctively knew that He was Jesus.

Mdm Loh asked Him to give her peace if He wanted her to be His daughter.

She felt peace replace fear (John 16:33), and so she asked Jesus to come into her life. She was 95 at that time.

Mdm Loh’s family surprised her with a two-tier version of her favourite rose lemon sponge cake on her 100th birthday. The Bible verse (Psalm 91:16) acknowledges God, who has blessed her with a long life.

In her desire to openly express her faith, she decided to get baptised. Just before her baptism, she had another dream of Jesus. This time, she saw His face.

When she shared her dream with her family, they thought that Jesus had come to welcome her into heaven.

However, Mdm Loh’s time was not up yet.

No longer afraid

Praying to Jesus has helped Mdm Loh overcome her fears.

Recently, when she was about to fall asleep, she felt someone touching and disturbing her. Physically, there wasn’t anyone else in the room with her.

In response, Mdm Loh prayed: “Lord, help me to not be afraid.”

That sensation went away and she was able to sleep.

On and off, this still happens. But Mdm Loh is no longer scared, as she knows that Jesus will protect her.

Mdm Loh prays daily for her family’s well-being. She has four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren (between the ages of two and late 20s), and one great-great grandchild.

When Mdm Loh prays, she finds herself worrying less.

She has let go of things that have hurt her in the past and now has a better, loving relationship with her family.

Mdm Loh’s daily routine starts with prayer and is punctuated by regular meals and rest. As she now requires a wheelchair to get around, she spends most of her time at home, chatting with her pet bird or enjoying her plants.

When she feels tired, she prays for strength and finds herself feeling better and able to function for the day.

“My memory has also surprisingly become better,” she said. “When I pray, God helps me find things I have misplaced.”

Sharing the Gift

“I also pray for our nation’s peace, so that everyone will have peace, too,” added Mdm Loh.

She enthusiastically shares the peace she’s found in Jesus with others, including people she meets in the lift.

Through Mdm Loh, her niece-in-law, Mdm Chue Foon Yin, 98, came to know Christ.

Mdm Loh (right) enjoys the company of her 98-year-old niece-in-law, Mdm Chue.

When Mdm Loh was more mobile, she used to attend Mandarin services at church on Sundays, and seniors’ meetings on Wednesdays. She enjoyed picking up the weekly church newsletter to read.

These days, a representative from church visits Mdm Loh once a month to pray with her and give her Holy Communion.

She gets regular visits from her “spiritual daughter” – also from church – who addresses her as “kai ma” (godmother).

Mdm Loh sees Mei Wah, who is in her 50s, as a divine answer to a long-held wish to adopt a daughter.

Just as Jennifer prayed for her mother to know Jesus, Mdm Loh encourages others to pray for their loved ones and friends.

She says: “Pray for them to experience the true peace that only God can give, which will lead to a fulfilling and abundant life.

“Encourage them that salvation is free; anyone can obtain this gift.”

Mdm Loh says that she now has no worries and is at peace.

She is ready to meet the Lord when He comes to take her to be with Him for eternity.

This story was originally published on Stories of Hope


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About the author

Leong Sook Ting

Sook Ting enjoys marvelling at God's creations through nature and travels. She seeks to experience God daily in the little things, and loves to see God at work in the world.