Philip Lim is a medical miracle. Despite not having seven internal organs, he lives a very normal life. All photos courtesy of Philip Lim.

When you meet Philip Lim, he is quite happy to tell you that he does not have seven internal organs: His left kidney, prostate, pancreas, spleen, gall bladder, distal bile duct and duodenum are gone.

Most people would ask: “And you are still okay?”

The 74-year-old assures Salt&Light that he is “still active and still able to go on my walks”. Philip walks more than an hour a day.

He had his left kidney and prostate removed a decade ago because of cancer. In 2020, he had the rest of the five organs removed, also because of cancer.

Through it all, he never missed a beat.

Philip (right) talking to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong at the Yellow Ribbon Run in 2023.

He continued to serve in the prison ministry in his church and volunteer with Christian Counselling Services which helps ex-drug addicts and ex-offenders. He has been the organisation’s president for eight years.

Philip (front row, third from left) with the Christian Counselling Services volunteers receiving their Singapore Prisions Services Long Service Award in 2019.

Last year, he became the chairman of Watchman’s Home Community Services Ltd, a three-quarter-way house for ex-offenders and the homeless. Once a month, he preaches at Sacred Grace New Life Church where he now worships.

But he was not always so fervent for God. At his prime, he “lived a life completely for myself”.

I felt a conviction to follow Christ

Philip first heard about Jesus in primary school.

“I had a very close friend who was a Catholic. He would show me pictures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, and tell me that he went for Mass on Saturday nights.

“He couldn’t explain to me what he believed in very well but he taught me some simple prayers.”

Six-year-old Philip with his oldest sister (left) and his late mother.

All that piqued Philip’s interest.  “I wondered: What is this religion about?” he said.

In secondary school, another friend invited him to Singapore Youth for Christ school meetings. At those meetings, he finally got to hear the gospel. The same friend then brought him to church.

“I dreamed of someone in a white gown telling me to ‘Come back’.”

He recalled: “My Sunday School teacher asked us, ‘Do you know what happens when you accept Christ as your Saviour?’

“When he told us what would happen, I felt a conviction in me to follow Christ.”

Philip was 15 then. He joined the church choir and attended youth fellowship, remaining in the church for 10 years.

“Being a young Christian, I looked at people more than I looked at Jesus Christ. I felt like they talked a lot but did nothing. Step by step, I started not going to church.”

From attending church weekly to only Christmas and Easter, soon Philip stopped going to church.

For the next 20 years, he also stopped looking to God.

“Come back”  

He got married and had a daughter. But the marriage ran into trouble. “We were both non-believers at that point in time. We faced a lot of issues,” he said.

“She wanted to know where I went. She would call me and ask, ‘When are you coming home?’ I felt it was a little too controlling.

“Finally, I told her, ‘In terms of peace for myself and for yourself, let’s call it a day.’”

By his late 30s, Philip was divorced. A year later, he remarried. 

Philip, his daughter and his wife at a family outing in 2023.

Throughout all this, God remained far from his mind. 

“I realised that if I’m godless on my own, it would not work well for me.”

Then one day, he had a dream. “I dreamed of someone in a white gown telling me to ‘Come back’.”

When he woke up, he told his wife he had to go back to church. He called his younger brother.

“I asked him, ‘Are you going to church this Sunday?’ He asked me why. I told him, ‘I’m going to church.’

“When my brother heard it, he said, ‘Hallelujah! I’ve been praying for you!’”

Philip was in his 40s when he started attending church regularly. He was baptised.

Philip in his 40s.

What made a man who had no regard for God for so many years suddenly obey God?

“When my brother heard I wanted to go to church, he said ‘Hallelujah! I’ve been praying for you!”

“After I fell out of church, I realised that if I’m godless on my own, it would not work well for me. I have to be directed by a divine person – which is God.

“It’s scary sometimes when I think about the dream. It was God’s mercy and grace. He had a path that He wanted me to take and to do certain things. When I didn’t even know anything, He brought it up.”

Philip was now convicted of the importance of letting God lead his life. “I believe that if He directs me, I will continue to do things in the right way.”

He felt a burden to serve God but did not know which ministry he should sow his time.

Philip (right) in his 50s with a friend at the Rotary Club of Bugis Junction/ITE Award Presentation Ceremony. Philip was then a member of this Rotary Club.

“I went to St Andrew’s Cathedral to pray.” And God answered: The following week, a friend in church invited him to serve in the prison ministry. 

Philip has been volunteering with the prison ministry for about 30 years. He is seen here at a prison run in 2016.

Last year Philip was asked to be chairman of Watchman’s Home, and he took some time to pray about it as well. For a long time as he was seeking God, he kept waking up at 3am.

“I wondered: ‘Why 3am?’ So I did research and found out that 3am is considered the watchman’s hour. I was being appointed a watchman.”

So he accepted the appointment.

Not one, not two but three cancers

In 2014, while showering, Philip detected a lump in his crotch. Suspecting that it was hernia, he went for a check-up. Instead, the doctor discovered his left kidney was swollen.

Philip (in red) celebrating his 60th birthday with students at the private school where he worked as a welfare manager.

“The doctor said, ‘It doesn’t look like good news.’”

An ultrasound revealed that he had cancer in his left kidney. After further scans and a blood test, Philip was told that he also had prostate cancer.

Philip after the surgery to remove his prostate in 2015.

“I was scared and angry. When I came home, I asked God, ‘Why are You doing this to me. I have been serving You.’

“Then this phrase came to me, ‘So that you can bring glory to My name.’ That was what I heard. After that, I accepted that it was His way of directing me to share about my healing.

“People are surprised, ‘Why must we be directed by God?’ Because we cannot do it on our own. We have to do it through Him.”

Philip (in hospital gown) with the students from the private school who came to visit him after his surgery.

That September, Philip had his left kidney removed. Nearly a year later, he had his prostate removed. Life returned to normal for him and he cleared every health check.

“My health was very good. I could recover from the flu within a day,” he said.

Within a year of his major surgeries, Philip was well enough to travel to Hong Kong on a prison study trip with fellow volunteers and Singapore Prison Service officers.

In 2020, the fifth year after his first cancer diagnosis, just as the cancer was about to be declared in remission, his doctor found something in his pancreas – three scars.

Tests revealed three tumours: One in the centre of his pancreas that was benign, and two more – situated at the top and bottom of his pancreas – that were cancerous.

His doctor advised him to have his pancreas removed. Because the organ was attached to four other organs – spleen, gall bladder, distal bile duct and duodenum – they had to be removed as well.

“When they diagnosed me with the other cancer, I didn’t feel anything,” he remembered. “I was calm. I said, ’Let it be.’

“This time, I believed that something great was going to happen. I would have a more powerful testimony than before.”

A powerful testimony to share

Today, Philip no longer has a pancreas, so he cannot produce insulin which helps to control blood sugar levels. As a result, he is now a diabetic and has to watch his intake of sugars and carbohydrates. He also has to have insulin injections and take medication.

Philip in 2022 with well wishes from past CEOs, former staff and current staff of Yellow Ribbon Singapore.

Without a duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine, he needs to take medication to aid digestion. 

“Physically I am ‘dead’, but spiritually I am alive because God lives in me.”

He also has to refrain from oily foods because he does not have a spleen or gall bladder which are essential for preventing blood formed in the liver from being contaminated by dense and more toxic fluids.

After his second surgery, he lost almost 16kg, but has since put some weight back on, which is very good news, his doctor says.

He said, ‘You are a very special person. People have one cancer. You have two, now three.’ He tells me I am quite a miracle,” said Philip.

“Physically I am ‘dead’, but spiritually I am alive because God lives in me.”

Philip remains on immunotherapy but, as God had directed, he shares his story of healing freely. While at the hospital for a check-up last year, he met a family. The daughter asked him to share the gospel with her parents.

“I asked, ‘Are your parents receptive to the Bible?’ She said, ‘No.’ So I told her I cannot share the Bible but I can share about my healing; I am a person with seven missing parts.

“There must be something I need to do. That’s why I’m still around.”

“When I shared with the parents, they asked me, ‘How can you have so many things missing?’

“I told them, ‘Zhu yizhi wo (God healed me).’”

His story is so amazing, people share his testimony with others. One inmate told Philip’s story to his prison officer.

“When the officer asked me, ‘How you survive?’ I told him, ‘I don’t survive. It is God in me. Because of God, I am surviving.’”

A church friend had a friend whose mother had cancer and was “very, very down”. He told her about Philip.  

Minster of State for the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, with Philip and the Christian Counselling Services team in June 2023.

“Very few people in my situation would still be moving and actively serving,” he said. 

Asked if he is afraid to die, Philip said: “Before my last round of surgeries, I sang Kha Gua Eh Chiu (Hold My Hand). It is my favourite song because if the wrong person holds my hand, I would not be talking to you.

“I always tell God, ‘I am ready to meet You. You can take me home if You want to.

“But I feel there must be something I need to do. That’s why I’m still around.”


“I am a dead man walking”: He was pronounced dead by four doctors

“God, if You can move the mountains, what more can You do with these cancer cells?”: Stage 4 cancer survivor Calise Teo

Mum was healed of Stage 4 cancer. Two decades on, would daughter be too?

Declared inoperable and given months to live, she saw the hand of God throughout her battle with cancer

About the author

Christine Leow

Christine believes there is always a story waiting to be told, which led to a career in MediaCorp News. Her idea of a perfect day involves a big mug of tea, a bigger muffin and a good book.