Beyond Barriers

I grew up in the 1950s where polio was considered one of the most feared and dreaded diseases afflicting mostly young children. I have seen how it has afflicted my friends and relatives, causing paralysis, abnormalities & deformities in its ugliest forms, sometimes death. Yet polio victims are capable of living a fulfilled and independent life despite the stigma attached to it.
My cousin sister, Lim Siew Tho is the eldest of nine siblings. She lives with her parents and grandparents in a wooden attap-thatched roof house, with mud-caked floor in the countryside. They are farmers. I grew up with them. She is a polio victim from young. She has atrophied on both her legs. They are deformed from the knees down. Some complications set in which nearly took her life but she survived. People used to stare at her and neighbours’ kids called her ‘alien’ because of her ugly feet. So she rarely venture outdoor. But there is nothing ugly about her.
She is their first child. Seeing her on her knees and hands crawling like a baby, growing but never able to walk normally again, clearly there was anxiety in the family.They were worried for her future. “Is she going to be dependent on us all her life? What will happen when we passed away?” They asked around, trying to find some sort of help for her. Then one day, some relatives from Singapore informed them that doctors there will be able to fit her with walking aids. There was hope and they felt a heavy load rolled off their shoulders but it was going to be costly. So they decided to borrow money to send her. But that night, she cried, so did everyone. She chose to stay instead.
Their fears were unfounded. Watching her overcome her disabilities and trying to cope I have great admiration for her gutsy, independent spirit.
She uses the four wooden walls of the house, the clothes’ lines, the wire fencing or any sticks she can find to support herself as she manoeuvres inside & around the house doing household chores. Every morning, she is up before the rooster crows. She sits on the wet flooring, scrubbing buckets and buckets of clothes over the wooden grooved washboards. On her bended knees, she then drags the pails of clothes to hang on the clothes’ line and along the fencing. Then she will heat up the overnight food over the huge clay-mud firewood stove for her parents and grandparents to take to the farm. Occasionally she will let us help when we tell her it is faster but often she will chase us away. When her siblings go to school, she will babysit the younger ones. She feeds & rocks them to sleep on the sarong cradle. She has a way with babies and the young. Everyone just feels so comfortable with her.
She keeps the mud-caked house spick and span. Chicken and ducks wander in and out the house like they own the place, leaving behind their “poo, poo”. She scoops up every one of them.
Her day never fails with a visit to the chicken coop to pick eggs. She drags her twisted feet to the coop, with one hand dangling the basket to collect the eggs. Mud and dirt has become part of her life but she never once complain about them.
She is also very enterprising. When she is free, she sits at the veranda, busy making brooms (sapu lidi) from mid-dribs of dried coconut leaves. She also makes coconut oil from the coconuts collected from the farm. Sitting over a wooden stool attached with a metal scraper, she manually scraps the white coconut flesh and cooks until the oil is extracted. She fills them up into 5 kg tins and sells them to the nearby market. When things are too heavy for her, that’s the only time she calls out to us for help. She helps to rear fowls like chicks, ducks and geese in the backyard of the house. These fowls come in handy during festivals or for offerings to the gods. While grandpa is entrusted to do marketing early in the morning, she does all the cooking.
There were games we played together when we were young. I remembered how we shrieked and screamed as she pretended to be the evil witch, chasing us with her “magical broom”. We tied her eyes and counted 1…2….3…….as we run helter-skelter playing hide-n-seek. When she was tired of crawling, she used her butt to move. Sometimes she watched from the sidelines, cheering and encouraging us. Occasionally, I saw her flicking through our school books. I tried to teach her to read and write but after a few attempts she mumbled, “so much to learn, it’s for crazy people”. I used to wander why she was always looking & flicking through calendars. And finally, she surprised us by writing & counting numbers she learned from calendars.
We may fret over which clothes to put on, what food to eat, where to holiday or what to invest, she doesn’t. The only time she puts on nice clothes and is out of the house is riding pillion on those big rickety bicycles to watch the open-air opera shows during the festivals of the Deities. The other enjoyment she has is going over to the neighbours for a chat or learns a new dish.
To her, it is centred around the house and her loved ones. If we drop by today to visit, she is still the same today as she was then. If there is anything she can give you, she would. Her generosity and great attitude towards life make us eat humble pie! If there’s one person who deserves a medal or a pat on the back, that would be her! She has gone beyond the barriers.

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Allah or God?

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — An influential US Muslim scholar has urged the Malaysian government to stop barring non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” to refer to God, labeling the decision a “tragic mistake.”
Writing in the online newspaper The Huffington Post this week, Muhammad Musri, who is president of the American-Islam and of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, argued that words are often borrowed when cultures overlap and because of Islam’s predominance in Malaysia, the word “Allah” became the standard term used by Malaysians to refer to God.
“I am a Muslim scholar and an Imam who has memorized the Qur’an. And I’m fully convinced that the Malaysian court’s decision runs counter to the core values and spirit of Islam,” he said.
In his opinion piece titled, “Besmirching Allah’s name by trying to protect it”, the religious scholar called for the reversal of the ban, urging the local court system to “correct” the “tragic mistake.”
He did acknowledge, however, that he was no an expert in the “local dynamics” surrounding the ban.
Musri said his understanding regarding the situation in Malaysia was that some non-Muslims in Malaysia have been accused of trying to “woo” Muslims away from their faith by using the word “Allah” to refer to their God.
“To the degree that the accusations are true, such behavior should be condemned—not because other faith traditions don’t have the right to engage Muslims in religious dialogue in the hope of converting them, but because misrepresentation is always unacceptable,” he said.
But Musri also reminded that non-Muslim faiths have been using the word “Allah” in their spoken liturgies and printed materials, and that the word has been used in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Turkish, and in many translations of Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
“Punishing for the use of a word that’s so ingrained in the daily life and worship of non-Muslims guarantees a backlash,” he said.
He expressed concern that the word, which he said should symbolise “the ultimate in love and justice”, could instead symbolise “hate and oppression” for some.
The “Allah” row erupted in 2008 when the Home Ministry threatened to revoke the Catholic Church’s weekly the Herald’s newspaper permit.
The paper won a judicial review of the then Home Minister’s decision on the grounds that its constitutional rights had been violated, triggering an appeal from the federal government.
In October last year, the Court of Appeal ruled that the constitutional rights of the publisher had not been infringed.
In its ruling, the court said the word “Allah” as not integral to the Christian faith and said that allowing such an application would cause confusion in the Muslim community.
Last week, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department raided a bible importer’s premsies in Petaling Jaya and confiscated over 300 copies of the Bible in Malay and Iban. The raid was based on a 1988 state law that bans non-Muslims from using the word “Allah”.

After all that is said and still saying,
Mr. Narinder Singh, a FMT(Free Malaysia dated 9/2014) team member has this to say, “Please stop confusing God further”.

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Road to the Beautiful Gate- Beauty & the Beast ( Acts 3:1-12)

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give you…..

Beautiful is an adjective used to describe a person or thing that gives intense pleasure to the senses; it may refer to a woman such as a beautiful actress; a beautiful landscape or a beautiful object. It often implies stateliness or pleasing proportions and symmetry: it also could mean nice, delicate or graceful, handsome or pleasant.

Today my journey takes me to this gate called the Beautiful. It is a gate to the entrance of a temple courtyard. You can imagine it to be made of either gold or precious metals, with intricate designs of dove, lamb, or even the late saints carved into it. If the gate is called beautiful, I cannot imagine what the temple does looks like. But in contrast to that beauty, there were the crippled, maimed or even the poor begging for alms from the religious people going in or coming out.
On this particular afternoon, Peter and John were going to the temple courtyard for the three o’clock prayer. At the same time, a man who had been lame from birth was being carried by some men. Every day these men would put the lame man at the Beautiful Gate outside the temple courtyard. There he would ask for alms from people entering the courtyard. Seeing Peter and John were about to go into the courtyard, he asked to receive alms.crippled man Peter and John stared at him. “Look at us!” Peter said. So the man fixed his gaze at him, expecting to receive something from them. However, Peter said to him, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately the man’s feet and ankles were made strong. Leaping up, he stood and began to walk. He went with Peter and John into the temple courtyard, walking, leaping, and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God. They recognised that he was the man who used to sit and beg at the temple’s Beautiful Gate. The people were amazed and stunned to see what had happened to him. They were excited, and everyone ran to see them at the place called Solomon’s Porch. The man wouldn’t let go of Peter and John. When Peter saw this, he said to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed about this man? Why are you staring at us as though we have made him walk by our own power or godly life? We believe in the one called Jesus. Through His power alone this man, whom you know, was healed, as all of you saw.

1. Many times, we are like the crippled man. He could not see what he could do beyond his disability. He was so used to begging for alms, that had “crippled” his mind. In Matthew 4:1-11, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, satan tried to tempt him with food. Jesus replied, “Thou shalt not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”. Jesus taught people to live for the spiritual food too.
2. We failed to ask the right thing. Pray like Christ, “Not as my will, but as Thy will”.
3. We just accept life as it is and continue to do the same thing day in, day out. We fall into complacency.
4. When a lame, a poor or even a homeless man begs from us, we dig into our wallet and just drop a few coins or dollar and shoo… them away. But Peter could see beyond his disability that his bigger need was,”to be able to walk”. By knowing and helping his needs, God was glorified and a sinner saved.

What is your need? Have you look deeper into yourself and really see your need? If not, let us pray to God to help us see our spiritual needs and also the needs of others.

Posted in The Road series | 2 Comments

Welcome to 2014

Happy & Exciting 2014May you accomplish what you set out to do as you gallop into the New Year!

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The love of my life

Published on 12/2/2012 in conjunction with Valentine’s Day. Follow the link :


IT was not exactly a date, neither could I say I knew him. He was just one of my sister’s friends and he and his biker friends were going to ride to Seremban, spend a night there, meet up with some friends and then head down to Port Dickson (Negri Sembilan).My sister had asked me to go along to make up the foursome. Of course I had seen him around my neighbourhood with his friends, but we had hardly exchanged any words beyond the occasional nod. How I got paired with him, I can hardly remember.

But there he was outside my humble shack, sitting astride his Vespa and with his jacket on. He was not handsome like Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio, but with his five-foot-eight frame and rugged looks, and tossed hair reaching to his shoulders like Ringo Starr of the Beatles, he did cause my heart to miss a beat.

As I held on to his shoulder and climbed up the bike, I was as nervous as a young girl out on her first date. I can still remember the blushes.

Some incidents about that trip have stayed fresh in my head till today. While the others joked and talked senselessly, he was quiet. Aren’t guys on bikes supposed to be outrageous, bold, brave and wild? I realised he was not, but he just enjoyed hanging out with his friends.

We finished our dinner in Seremban after meeting their friends and were crossing the street. We were just friends, but what made him stand out from the rest was how he held my hand and helped me across the road.The next day as we cruised along the winding trunk road, I sat behind him shivering from head to toe, my stomach making noises. The cold wind was beating against my cheeks and I could hear the whistling of the leaves as we whizzed by. Thoughts of hugging him from behind just to keep warm did cross my mind, but I would have died of embarrassment had I done so. Then I felt him draw my cold hands from behind into his jacket. And he held them there. I had never felt so relieved.

Since then, he has not let me go.

Today, he might have lost his rugged Ringo locks, his youth and his well-built frame, but he is still the same man I met 37 years ago. He still holds my hands when we walk, cross the road, and even in the cinema.He is still the loving, thoughtful man I fell in love with. He has always been the opposite of impatient me, who sometimes loses my temper.For all of him, I am thankful to his late parents for bringing up a fine young man who became my husband. I know he is not one to show his romantic side but come Valentine’s Day, in his quiet manner, he will still take me somewhere to dine and shop, just so he can see me happy.

To the love of my life, K.S. Ong, Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Walkabout in George Town, Penang(7-10/7/11)

My walkabout with friends at the George Town 3rd Anniversary World Heritage celebration:

The Sg.Nibong Fireflies – We stopped at a restaurant just a 5 minutes stop away from the  fireflies site. We tried the famous crunchy, fresh cuttlefish, fish cake and some vege. The night ride into the unknown was a great boating experience. As the  motorboat drew near the edge of the river and as our eyes adjusted to the darkness, there were hundreds and hundreds of glowing green lights  flickering on the cluttered trees. It was like Christmas time, with the trees all lighted up and glowing in darkness.

Straits Quay & the Light House

Cheong Fatt Tze

Watch Teo Chew Puppet Show held at the Yeng Keng Hotel while enjoying the many good food here.

Royal Selangor Pewter at Straits Quay, Jln.Seri Tanjung Pinang

Old charm, Jalan 100 & Multi-colored buildings

Putumayam, a traditional food made from rice flour and either with brown sugar & coconut or curry

Botanic garden

Sun Yat-Sen Centre

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Road to Talugtug-Mission fields John 4:35

Talugtug is 3 1/2 miles drive away from Clark Airport, Philippines. It is in the province of  Nueva Ecija, which is politically subdivided into 28 barangays.

It has only a population of 20,671 people in 4,168 households. As we entered this small village , we passed by golden brown padi fields that stretches for miles and miles away.  Despite the distance, I believe this is one place with the most number of churches, both Catholics & Protestants.  Reaching out to them seemed easier than  the people from other well-developed nations.

here we come

John 4:35  Jesus said, “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white unto harvest …”. The idea that we came as the laborers for the harvest seemed to fit in nicely ha!ha!  

Here, the local folks still pump water from the well, they lived in bamboo houses with attap-thatched or zinc roof-top. Most  households have  at least an acre of padi fields so you will notice that every meals come served with rice. The church in Talugtug is helmed by a young preacher, bro. Mel, a graduate from Four Seas college. Most of the members comprised of family members and are somewhat related to each other through marriage.

Activities carried out:

Revival meeting & Evangelism workshop in progress


Visitation on Wheels


After some personal studies, Arrisol & Jasmine, followed by Rosita & Jenifer the following day had their confessions taken & baptised into the Lord.

As it was the school holiday season, the members children and neighbors’ were curious & eager to see what we were doing there. It must be something new to them. Fortunately some of us came prepared  with children’s bible lessons and picture materials. Thats how the children class started initially with 15 kids and expanded to 25 the day before we left. It is our hope and prayer that the Sunday school program will continue to reach out to the neighbourhood.  Prov. 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old, he will not depart from it”. 
On the last day of the trip, we moved closer to the Clark airport. We got on a Jeepney(a public transport) to get to our hotel. It was one of the most frightening moment of our life. Instead of a 10 minutes ride, we went for a 1/2 hour terror ride, the ride that took use further and further away from our hotel, through dark, narrow back lanes.  And after we finally paid double the fare, we were so so relieved to see the jeepney approached the brightly lit streets. In the Philippines “BEWARE OF SCAM” was posted everywhere we went. Dont take this warning lightly!
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