Salt&Light writers encouraged and moved to tears pursuing stories of tragedy and loss, faith and sacrifice, for new book
by Janice Tai // December 9, 2021, 11:05 pm
The writers behind Salt&Light’s second book share how the poignant stories they pursued transformed their own faith as well. (L-R) Christine Leow, Tan Huey Ying, Thirst Collective Founder & Editor Edric Sng, Janice Tai, Managing Editor Juleen Shaw, Gemma Koh and Gracia Lee.
While parenting may be one of life’s most rewarding experiences, it can also be a perplexing and heartbreaking journey.
Families who entrusted Salt&Light journalists with their candid accounts of harrowing marital struggles, unceasing work pressures, parenting pain and even trauma and tragedy moved the journalists, who saw the hand of God ever present in shaping and strengthening families in Singapore.
Thirty-four of those powerful stories can now be found in Salt&Light’s second book, Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith in Families.
CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY OF Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith in Families.
“This is less a book about families or parenting than it is a book about being a steadfast disciple of Christ through every season of our life – as child, brother or sister, spouse or parent, godparent or grandparent,” said Salt&Light Managing Editor Juleen Shaw, 59.
“It is even less a book about being the perfect parent, sibling or child. And more about real-life choices, discouragement, struggles and the grace to hold on to hope, joy and love through Jesus Christ. We may scar. But as the writer of one of the stories in this book said, ‘Let’s learn to scar well.’”
The writers behind Salt&Light’s new book share how the poignant stories they pursued transformed their own lives and faith as well.
I saw the heart of a praying mother: Christine Leow
When Senior Writer Christine Leow interviewed the mother of a daughter who had jumped 14 storeys in a suicide attempt, the interview was conducted in Mandarin over the phone.
Christine admitted that her proficiency in Mandarin was only sufficient to “order meepok at the coffeeshop”.
“I understood her anguish when she told me she didn’t know her daughter was suffering so much that she was suicidal because I, too, am a mother.”
Yet the harrowing tale of God answering the prayers of a mother by miraculously saving the life of her daughter resonated so deeply with Christine that she wept as she transcribed the interview and could hardly type out her notes.
“I understood her anguish when she told me she didn’t know her daughter was suffering so much that she was suicidal because I, too, am a mother and, try as I might, my teens are not always forthcoming with me. I don’t always know their pain and it pains me that I don’t,” said Christine, 51.
She also understood the interviewee’s refusal to give up pleading with God for her daughter’s life as she herself has been on her knees many times, praying for her own children.
The connection she felt with the other mother was also borne out of an awareness that it was a privilege for her, a stranger, to be entrusted to tell the story.
“I am in awe of the level of trust and authenticity shown. Being in the same community of faith affords you a special pass of sorts. It’s like saying, ‘We are the same because we love and serve the same God. Therefore, I trust you’,” said Christine.
As a result, her own level of faith was impacted.
“Every time someone shares their God story with me, it affirms God’s goodness for me. I don’t have enough lifetimes to live out the depth and breadth of God’s goodness.”
These godly fathers raised both family and nation: Gemma Koh
Senior Writer and Copy Editor Gemma Koh was at a dinner party when one of the guests, Andrew Reid, shared an intriguing experience.
He had mentioned briefly that his wife Heather’s late father, Max McKay, had sat him down for a man-to-man talk before he married his daughter.
Intrigued, she contacted them to find out more. She learnt that Max would sit down with each of his sons-in-law (he had six) before marriage, to talk about various important topics, including sex.
“In some ways, marriage is the place where you most practise what it means to be Christian.”
This was in the 1970s when sex was still a taboo topic, and it was something the men’s own fathers had not spoken to them about.
“Little did I expect Andrew and Max to be so open about the three-lettered word, sex, and what God had intended it for. I was really moved by how Max showed what it means to be the true head of the household,” said Gemma, who is in her 50s.
She also saw truth in what Andrew said: “In some ways, marriage is the place where you most practise what it means to be Christian.”
Over 40 years of ministry, Andrew and Heather would go on to prepare young couples for marriage by “combining the world’s wisdom with a Scriptural framework”.
Gemma also interviewed General Winston Choo, the first and longest-serving chief of the Singapore Armed Forces, on his faith journey.
“He was the top man in the SAF but their family answered to an even higher power, who so clearly laid out the stepping stones for and equipped him to serve the nation,” said Gemma.
“I was also very moved by Mrs Choo’s faith, her devotion to her husband and the sacrifices she and the whole family made as he worked to build up the Singapore Armed Forces to keep Singapore secure.”
A three-year-old child taught me about suffering: Gracia Lee
Writer Gracia Lee has reported on many stories of suffering in illnesses. But witnessing little Caitie’s parents’ response to their daughter’s passing opened Gracia’s eyes to a different perspective on suffering.
Caitie had battled a rare childhood cancer for six months.
“Above all, I learnt that the presence of pain does not mean the absence of God.”
“When Feliz and Jay Jay surrendered Caitie to Jesus as she was dying, they said, ‘We love her. But there’s Someone who loves her more than us. And that’s Jesus.’ That statement was full of pain but also full of hope, you know?” said Gracia, 25.
“It encouraged me to know that even in the worst of suffering, we can rest knowing that Jesus loves us, that He is in full control and that we will see our loved one again. It helped to shape my perspective of suffering and of God’s presence in times of unspeakable pain.”
Above all, Gracia learnt that the presence of pain does not mean the absence of God.
“It is precisely in times of pain that God draws close to His children even more. We may not know why God allows suffering to happen to us, but what we do know is that He will be right there with us.”
Their speaking up bravely brought hope to others: Tan Huey Ying
Assignments Editor Tan Huey Ying wrote the unusual story of David and Jay Chong, who chose to remarry years after divorcing each other.
David had an affair and his wife, Jay, stung by the pain of betrayal, chose to return tit for tat and followed suit. Yet reconciliation came after Jay obeyed God to return home and serve her then ex-husband.
“I can’t wait to see what happens when so-called ‘ordinary’ Christians start sharing their own stories of God’s power, mercies and goodness.”
“I think it took enormous courage from David and Jay to share their story openly and fearlessly. God then took their testimony of His redemptive journey to bring hope to many others outside their network – some of whom are still walking their own difficult paths,” said Huey Ying, 32.
After Salt&Light published their story, the couple was invited to share at PraySingapore 2018 in front of thousands at the National Stadium.
They also came on the inaugural Salt&Light Family Night over Zoom to speak to hundreds of viewers on the topic of divorce. Subsequently, they were approached by couples from other churches who were facing similar struggles for mentoring.
Said Huey Ying: “I can’t wait to see what happens when so-called ‘ordinary’ Christians from all over Singapore read the book, be inspired, and start sharing their own stories of God’s power, mercies and goodness.”
They showed us how to bring heaven to earth: Janice Tai
Senior Writer Janice Tai frequently encounters believers brandishing Christian jargon like “unconditional love” and “being set apart” but she knows these are high ideals that are rarely lived out fully.
The story of Dickson and Allison Lim showed her that it is possible to be Singaporean parents in a stressful and pragmatic society and yet live out a radical lifestyle undergirded by a biblical worldview.
The Lims made the highly atypical choice of not “choosing” their children when they decided to adopt.
“When we allow God’s love and truth to utterly transform us, we release a love that the world has hardly seen before but is thirsty for.”
They did not make sure that the babies cleared the medical tests so that they would not have to deal with any abnormalities or severe medical conditions. They did not check the educational qualifications of their birth parents to maximise chances that they would get a smart child. They did not even look at the baby’s photograph to select a child who would look like them in order to minimise questions about origin.
They just prayed and waited for the adoption agency to call them should any child be offered up for adoption. When the call came, they simply walked into the office to adopt the baby.
They did this four times, for each of their four children, because they did not want the child to suffer another rejection. Three of their adopted children turned out to have special needs.
“The Lims show us what it is like to bring heaven to this earth. We all understand our sonship and adoption by God into His Kingdom, but they displayed that in their own lives by the choices (or lack of) that they made,” said Janice, 33.
“They model God’s unconditional love by accepting their children fully, despite the various medical ‘surprises’ they found in their children later on.
“In their lives, we catch a glimpse of the Word made Flesh. This is what it could look like when we allow God’s love and truth to utterly transform us: We release a type of love that the world has hardly seen before but is thirsty for.”
This Christmas, bless someone with Salt&Light: Inspirational stories of Faith in Families
Order your new Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith in Families here.
Please note that only orders made by December 16 will be delivered by Christmas.
In Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith in Families, find encouragement in 34 true-life accounts that show that unvarnished reality and hope can exist side by side.
Draw inspiration so that you, too, may experience life-giving faith in every season of your life, even through times of testing.
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