“God would not give up on me”: How Jesus pursued a drug addict and restored his relationships

This Chinese New Year, Salt&Light finds stories of family reconciliation and forgiveness that only Jesus can orchestrate.

by Christine Leow // January 30, 2024, 1:21 am


Alvin Chow (extreme right) with (left to right) his elder brother, nephew, mother and god-brother at a Chinese New Year meal in 2020. In the past, his relationship with his mother had never been good and drugs had made it worse. Now free from addiction, Alvin and his mother enjoy a loving relationship. All photos courtesy of Alvin Chow.

Alvin Chow, 45, did not think he was a drug addict. In his mind, he only took prescriptive pills and Ecstasy when he went clubbing, and that was only once a week.

In Part 1 of his story (below), even when he progressed to Ice (crystal meth), he still did not think he was an addict. He believed that he could stop if he put his mind to it. The times he tried and failed, he put down to a lack of determination.

Read Part I here:

The bowl of porridge that moved a drug addict to try hard to quit

Alvin on a mission trip in 2017. He became a Christian while in detention in his teens. But it was only when he went into the drug rehabilitation programme at The Hiding Place that he was truly transformed.

It was only when he purposed to get clean and found that he could not that he got down on his knees and begged God to help him.

Here is Part 2 of his story.

The pastor who mentored    

Even before Alvin reached the point of despondence, God was already preparing a way out.

Alvin had been detained for three years for gang activities. Some time after his release, he began working as a cable repairman. One day, he went to a home to fix a faulty set-top box. When he arrived, he found nothing wrong with the device.

“I saw a lot of Christian things in the house. So I asked the man about it,” said Alvin.

Alvin on a mission trip in 2017.

It turned out that the man was a pastor and he invited Alvin to his church.

Alvin had little intention of visiting the church. He had accepted Jesus as His Saviour while in detention. But once out, all had been forgotten. He even returned to drugs and became addicted to Ice.  

Yet when a series of coincidences happened, Alvin had no choice but to go the pastor’s church.

Alvin (third from left) at his 2019 graduation from The School of Ministry at Tung Ling Bible School.

The weekend that followed the pastor’s invitation, Alvin was called back to work.

His office was very near the pastor’s church. The stock check took all morning. When the task was done, Alvin realised it was very near the time of the church service – 2pm.

Even as he drove towards the church, he was still undecided about attending.

“I was on and off drugs. When I went to church on Sundays, I didn’t take drugs.”

“As I was about to turn into the church, I struggled. I saw a petrol station next to it. So I thought: Maybe I should go in and get a drink instead.

“After I bought the drink and was about to drive off, my phone rang. I picked it up and it was the pastor. He asked me if I had found my way to the church.

“I looked and saw that it was 2pm. Service must have started. Paiseh! (So embarrassing) So I told him that I was around the corner.”

He did not realise it then but, on hindsight, Alvin believed it was God’s divine arrangement that got him to the church.

He never worked weekends. Yet that weekend after meeting the pastor, he was called back to the office. The church was just down the road from his workplace. The pastor called just as Alvin was about to drive away. There were too many coincidences.

That first visit to the church was a positive experience for Alvin.

Everyone was welcoming. So he began attending the service on occasion.

“But it was a struggle. I was on and off drugs. When I went to church on Sundays, I didn’t take drugs.”

A short reprieve 

Soon, the double life got too much for Alvin. It came to a point when he had to tell the pastor of his drug addiction.

“I told him about my problem and he said he was helping drug addicts. He preached at The Hiding Place (THP) and he promised to journey with me.”

Alvin (left) after attending Alpha in 2015.

The pastor took to calling Alvin a few times a week to check up on him.

“He would ask, ‘How are you?’ If I didn’t take drugs, I would tell him, ‘Good.’ Otherwise, I would say, ‘No.’”

Having to account to someone stayed Alvin’s hand a few times because he “did not want to lie to the pastor”.

“But there were times when I slipped and I didn’t want to answer his calls,” Alvin admitted.

Gradually, though, the intervals between drug-taking got shorter. It was then that Alvin realised he was in deep trouble.

“I prayed, ‘I do believe. Help me in my unbelief.’”

“My only hope was God. So I turned to the Bible. But when I read the Bible, there was a voice in my head that said, ‘You’re like this, can you even read the Bible?’

“Then another voice said, ‘If you have to wait till you are very near to God to read the Bible, the day will never come.’

“So I started reading the Bible.”

As he read, he came across Mark 9:23. The account of the father who brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus for healing resonated with Alvin.

“I pondered the verse in which Jesus said, ‘If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Then I felt a voice say, ‘You can.’ (Mark 9:23).

“I was moved. I wept and the tears kept flowing. Then I followed what the father in the Bible said. I prayed, ‘I do believe. Help me in my unbelief.’”

For a month after that, Alvin did not take drugs. Thinking that the worst was over, he returned to his old friends, and then to his old lifestyle and eventually to drugs again.

The failed short-cut

It was then that Alvin asked the pastor to take him to a halfway house.

“The pastor asked me, ‘Why do you want to go?’ I told him I wanted a change of environment. But he said, ‘If you go, what happens after two years when you return to the same environment?’

“It made me realise that it was not the environment that needed to change. If my heart didn’t change, everything would still be the same.”

Alvin (centre) at The Hiding Place anniversary in 2017.

Nonetheless, the pastor got Alvin an interview with THP. It was Alvin who changed his mind about getting help at a halfway house.

“If my heart didn’t change, everything would still be the same.”

“I wanted somewhere not so strict. I chose my own way and went to a three-quarter-way house instead.”

The months that Alvin lived there, he was clean.

But the moment he got out, he went back to doing drugs within a few months.

“The pastor scolded me. He was frustrated. He didn’t know how else to help me.

“So he gave me two choices – either he gave up on me or I followed him to The Hiding Place.”

Alvin chose The Hiding Place.

The change of heart

The Hiding Place introduced to Alvin the discipline to be continually immersed in God’s Word.

Through Bible reading, devotions and prayer, Alvin found himself transformed from the inside out.

Alvin (in jacket and tie) at The Hiding Place anniversary in 2022.

“My perspective changed.”

“After I changed, I saw things from my mother’s experiences.”

Since he was a child, he and his mother had not had a good relationship. But as God worked in his heart, Alvin began to develop empathy for his mother.

His father had cheated on his mother which had led to a divorce. His stepfather had walked out on her. She had ended up a single mum to Alvin and his older brother, and the half-brother she had had with his stepfather.

“I used to look at things on the surface. Why was my mum always nagging at me? After I changed, I saw things from her experiences.

“I became more understanding. I saw the purpose of her nagging and I was moved.”

Relationships that healed

When Alvin was abusing drugs, he had found himself easily frustrated with his family members. 

“Very often, I couldn’t say more than 10 words to them without ending in quarrelling,” said Alvin.

“In my drug haze, my younger brother and I once quarrelled so badly that we stopped speaking to one another after that.”

Alvin (right) with his mother and god-brother. Instead of quarrelling, mother and son can now have heart-to-heart conversations.

Living at THP, steeped in the Word of God and involved in its rehabilitation programme, changed Alvin and his relationship with his family. Three months after he went into THP, his younger brother, with whom he had not spoken for about two years, came to visit him.

“This is possible because God did not give up on me.”

“It was an impossibility. We had not been on talking terms. Yet it happened. I was reminded of what a resident of THP told me. He said, ‘When you come back to God and walk right with God, things will fall into place.'”

After Alvin completed his one-year programme with THP, he stayed on to be a helper.

“I didn’t feel ready to leave. I asked my mum for her opinion. In the past, she would have wanted me to go out to work to help with the family’s finances.

“This time, she told me to make my own decision. When I heard it, I was moved. They were simple words but they meant a lot to me.”

Alvin went on to become employed by THP. He has now been with the halfway house for 12 years, 10 of which as an employee.

This Chinese New Year, he will spend the day at his mother’s house – a far cry from how he used to spend his time during his drug-fuelled days.

Alvin (left) celebrating Chinese New Year with his family.

“Last time during Chinese New Year, I would go out with my friends or I would be taking drugs.

“Now I can sit down and listen to my mother. I have become a better listener. Mum once talked to me for four to five hours, pouring out her heart to me.

“After that, she told me that she felt good. She just needed a listening ear. In the past, I wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes. I would have been impatient.

“This is possible because God did not give up on me. So I can live a new life in Him.”


“There’s no fear of death, my life is in God’s hands”: The Hiding Place’s Pastor Philip Chan as he battles liver cancer

The Hiding Place’s Christina Chan – “Mother Choo Neo” to her many “sons” – called home to the Lord

“I was a condemned case. Prison couldn’t cure me”: In prison 4 times, caned 15 times, he thought he would die a drug addict

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.