‘Serve Him While I Can’: A Testimony by William Choo, a Volunteer with Communications and Creative Expression Ministries

“Serve Him while you can” was my wife’s constant refrain for the last few years leading to my retirement. My wife, Siang Hoon, had wisely felt I should spend more time serving God and others since our children were all grown up: “One day, even if you want to, you might not be able to. Serve the Lord before it is too late.” I had spent several decades of my life taking care of my family of four and working in a management role with a regional multinational company.

God Sent His invitations to Serve
I had not realised it previously, but God is actively involved in every aspect of my life. God did not only send his invitations about serving through my wife; he also did that through others.

Apart from my wife’s constant encouragement to be more involved in kingdom work, I was motivated to think more about serving after meeting a fellow sister-in-Christ from Wesley Methodist Church who is serving in the Communications Ministry. Without knowing what was in my heart about serving, after finding out that I enjoyed photography while bantering at a Glowing Years Ministry (GYM) event in 2022, Su Chen had asked if I could help out in the church photography team. I said yes immediately and responded whenever the church needed photographers for various events.

A year later, in October 2023, I visited the Ministry Fair organised by Wesley Methodist Church to explore the areas that I could serve more. Since I was already playing the ukulele, I signed up for the Creative Expressions Ministry. At the same time, a volunteer at the Communications Ministry booth shared with me that they needed help with events, and I decided to sign up for that ministry, too. Towards the end of October 2023, I heard from Su Chen again, who asked if I wanted to be part of the event support team in the Communications Ministry. 

A Devastating Diagnosis
However, just a couple of weeks later, as I was looking forward to a deeper involvement in kingdom work, life dealt me a big blow. During a routine medical checkup, I was told that I had been diagnosed with cancer.

For most people, the frightening ‘C’ word spells crisis and chaos, and that was exactly how I felt. I responded immediately with anger. I told my doctor I wanted to forgo the treatment and just “let it be.” What came to mind immediately was not just how painful a death or treatment process I would have to endure, but how sad my family might feel if my treatments did not work out. My doctor informed me that they had to accelerate the treatment procedures as the cancer had spread. There was a moment of deafening silence in the room. Eventually, I regained my composure, and in my heart, I remembered that I am a child of God, my life is in His hands, and I must allow God to heal me through medical science.

Around the same time, I had also started to experience excruciating pains shooting from my back to the back of my calf, and I could hardly walk. But miraculously, the back pains were resolved, and I could move around easily for the subsequent many medical appointments.

In the days that followed, I alternated between confusion and calmness. I kept questioning God: ‘God, why did this happen to me just when I had decided to serve You more actively in church?’ But my family, small group, prayers, words of encouragement and sharing of Bible verses from others helped me weather through the initial period, and I came to terms with my diagnosis quickly. I also decided to continue with my plans to serve Him faithfully. 

God’s Messages Continue
The Lord continued to minister to me and open avenues for me to serve through the Communications Ministry. While all these medical issues unfolded for me, Su Chen, who had no clue about my health issues, invited me to join the Communications Ministry Committee in November 2023. I replied yes immediately, as my wife’s words came to mind: “Serve Him while you can.” 

Looking back, I can only thank my wife for her constant reminder and God’s grace for giving me faith in Him so that I could readily answer the call to be His hands and feet. My Small Group, DISCIPLE and Precept Upon Precept classes have also helped make my faith journey possible. As I was grappling with the crisis, and reflecting on my life, thoughts about how I could share my experience in serving God and the importance of anchoring our lives on God, to motivate others, came to me. The thought of drafting a testimony for Tidings crossed my mind but I dismissed it quickly. I am a very private person, and the idea of sharing my medical condition openly did not appeal.

Once again, God was at work even though I had not known. On 30 December 2023, I received a WhatsApp message from Su Chen unexpectedly, which read: “William, [by the way] just checking, do [you] want to write for Tidings?”

William taking photos for Wesley Christmas outreach event at Jalan Berseh

I was surprised and pleasantly amused by how the Lord again used her to nudge me to serve Him. By then, I had already responded to God’s call to serve through Su Chen, for three times. When I told Su Chen I had thought about writing my testimony to edify and encourage others, she strongly encouraged me to share my testimony. I then shared with her about my diagnosis. It was another invitation from the Lord for me to do His work, this time through my testimony. However, I was still hesitant, and very unprepared to share, as I valued my privacy.

But everything changed for me just a few days later. God spoke to me clearly through Pastor Adrian Ng’s sermon and his wife’s testimony at the Prayer and Praise service on December 31, 2023. Pastor Adrian’s wife’s testimony so deeply moved me I was convinced I could put aside my desire for privacy if my testimony could help or encourage someone in a small way. 

Don’t “Waste” the Diagnosis
God had impressed upon me compellingly that He does not want me to “waste” my diagnosis. God still has a purpose for it. Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” 

My encounter with this significant health crisis in my life has given me three precious life lessons so far: 

I must serve the Lord faithfully while I can and not put it off till it is too late. I must continue to grow spiritually to withstand challenges in life. During a storm in Luke 8:25, Jesus asked his disciples, “Where is your faith?” Through a solid spiritual foundation and belief in God as the Lord of my life, I want to be able to answer affirmatively that my faith rests in God.

Community is important. My Small Group members are amongst the first with whom I shared my medical condition and sought prayer support. I want to encourage those not in a Small Group to join one. 

A life-threatening illness or a set of challenging circumstances in life can bring out many feelings in a person. But they can also give us precious life lessons. When life hits us hard, we can still be assured of God’s active grace working in our lives, and He can still use us for His purpose and glory. This is possible when we consistently draw from God’s bottomless well of grace. 

Finally, everyone can serve God through all seasons in big or little ways.  Even in the frightening, confusing and struggling face of cancer, I can still meet God and serve Him while I can.

You may watch or listen to Rev Adrian Ng’s sermon and the testimony by his wife, Mrs Serene Ng, here: Where is Your Faith by Rev Adrian Ng

For more information on opportunities to serve God and others in Church, please go to serving God and others through Wesley Methodist Church

Read also: ‘God cares for me while I care for my mother’: A Caregiver’s Journey; ‘I Thought I Alone Could Control My Life and Future’: How I Decided to Give My Life to Christ

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