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God Affirms My Children’s Name

“God is Great” and “God is Gracious”. These are the names we had chosen for our two sons before they were born. When they arrived, God put their names to the test for His glory alone. Through their birth, God demonstrated His power and grace.
On 16 February 1981, Joel came into this world three weeks early. That morning, Jenny noticed some blood and decided to see her gynaecologist, who suggested that she check into Mount Alvernia for rest and observation. Everything seemed fine up till the time the doctor examined her in the evening before leaving work for the day. Soon after, Jenny started to bleed profusely. She was immediately wheeled to the operating theatre.

After being delivered by a caesarean section,Joel was kept in an incubator in Mount Alvernia for about a week. According to the gynaecologist, his lungs were not fully developed and he had difficulty breathing. Towards the end of the week, Joel contracted pneumonia and was turning blue. The paediatrician strongly urged that he be transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU) at Alexandra Hospital (AH). After examining Joel, Dr KW Tan, Head of Paediatrics, gave me a briefing. Holding an X-ray film against the light, saying that my son had “no lungs”. I was disoriented and felt the room spinning, until he explained that Joel’s lungs had collapsed. Without air, the lungs would not appear on the X-ray, Joel was given penicillin and his chances of pulling through were 50/50.

During that difficult month, the church was behind us in prayer. I remember one sister saying that she was praying for Joel as if he were her own. Grace Assembly has always been our family, and we are so grateful.

Joel’s early months were a trying period for Jenny and I. Our faith was put to the test. I remembered telling a Christian brother that I was prepared for the worst, and if we had lost Joel, I would take Jenny on a trip. That brother “lectured” and exhorted me- if God did not want us to have the child, He would not have given the child to us in the first place, and that we should claim the child in faith. Encouraged, I shared this with Jenny and we prayed together. It was a wonderful spiritual experience. I prayed in tongues till I felt inner peace I never felt before and knew that things would be all right. Glory to God! From that day on, or rather, from that moment, Joel’s condition took a turn for the better. His oxygen readings began to improve, and after a month, Joel was strong enough to be discharged.

Joel is the name we have chosen for our eldest son, which means “God is Great”.

History has a way of repeating itself. On 25th January 1984, we went through what seemed like a replay of three years before, except that this time the situation was more serious. Jenny bled a little in the morning, was admitted to Mount Alvernia for observation, visited by the same gynaecologist, and bled profusely after her doctor left. This time, I was around to witness the bleeding. The two nurses kept reassuring Jenny that everything was alright, but behind the screen and away from Jenny’s ears, they were panicking, having to repeatedly replace the blood-stained sheets.

This time round, Johann was rushed to Alexandra Hospital on the day he was born. The same Dr Tan saw me and said, “You again!” Johann was seven weeks premature and he could not breathe on his own, so he had to be hooked up to a respirator. At birth, he weighed 2.05 kilograms and he stayed in the ICU for three months. While in the ward, he was connected to a myriad of tubes and was pricked several times a day to test the oxygen level in his blood. The doctors were hoping to see him breathing on his own and reach 20% oxygen level in his blood. His chances of survival were slimmer than Joel’s. Thank God, Johann was finally discharged after a 3-month stay.

Johann is a European version of John, meaning “God is gracious”. When Johann was about two and a half years old, God again proved Himself to be gracious. It was a near-drowning incident and again God spared his life.

It was mid-1986, when Adeline, our teenage niece, and the two boys were swimming in the condominium pool while Jenny and I waited for our friends, Chris and Jannifer, to arrive. When we reached the pool with our guests, Johann came out from the baby pool to greet us. From then, Jenny and I split up. I showed Chris around the clubhouse while Jenny took Jannifer in the opposite direction. I assumed Johann was with Jenny, and Jenny assumed Johann was with me. When we met up shortly after, and realised that Johann was not with either of us, we knew something was wrong. I ran towards the pool. From afar, I could see Adeline running towards me, and a body at the far end of the adult pool.

It was Johann.

When I reached Johann, his body was cold, his lips had turned blue and his stomach was bloated. I did not know what to do. I laid hands on Johann, prayed in tongues and cried at the same time. A crowd was gathering and Chris was asking if anyone knew how to apply CPR. No one responded and Chris quickly made an attempt. Many things went through my mind and I actually thought Johann was gone. I continued to pray while Chris continued to apply CPR. For what seemed like an eternity, nothing happened. Suddenly, Johann began to choke and vomited. We rushed him to NUH. The doctors were concerned about his brain, which could have been damaged due to the lack of oxygen for some time. Thank God for His grace! Johann’s mental capability today does not seemed impaired.


A Gift From God

What can we say but our God is great and gracious! He has delivered Joel and Johann from the brink of death. After these incidents, we are conscious that our two boys belong to God. As parents, we are but their stewards on God’s behalf.

We have dedicated them to God and constantly pray that God will use them according to His will.