A Special Gift from God
by Pearl Bong, March, 2002
My husband and I, together with our ten-month-old daughter, came from Jakarta to Singapore in July 1990. We were as aliens in a strange land for we did not know anyone here. Three months after settling down on this island, I discovered that I was expecting again. It was God’s will for us to have our second child because we did not plan for that at all.
Towards the seventh month of pregnancy, I was suffering from some physical discomfort and I was told that the baby would arrive sooner than expected. Indeed the baby arrived prematurely. On the day of his arrival, I barely heard his faint cry. Later we received news from the doctor that the baby’s lungs were not fully developed. There was an infection in his lungs and he was unable to breath normally. The doctor told us that the baby has to be placed in a ventilator until he recovers. That cost about S$1000.00 per day in order to keep the baby alive. I saw my baby in the intensive care unit. There were so many tubes going through his nose and mouth, and he was crying in pain. I longed to hold my baby in my arms but I could only stroke his head gently. Fear began to creep into my heart. I began to doubt, and said, “Will my baby survive this ordeal?”
Day and night I wept before the Lord, pleading with Him to save my baby. A week passed and the doctor finally managed to cure the infection in his lungs and she gave the green light that my baby could finally be transferred to the incubator. That was the first time after birth that I held my baby in my arms. I could not describe the joy of my heart at that moment. All that I knew was God heard my plea and I was grateful to Him.
During that period of time, my husband and I were not attached to any churches, for we were in search of a church where we could worship Him. Besides, we were seeking after God’s will for us here in Singapore. We did attend one of the Baptist churches, but we were not regular members yet. No one in that church knew us as there were about 400 people attending the Sunday Worship. We did not get support from anyone and all that we could do was to pray that God would have mercy upon us and help us through that difficult moment. Indeed God was good to us and finally the long awaited day had come that we could bring our baby home after ten days of treatment in the hospital. Praise the Lord!
On the day when he was discharged, he appeared so tiny. I could see that he was reduced to skin and bones due to the pain and suffering that he had to go through. It really pained my heart to see his state. Nevertheless I thanked God for letting him live. God knew how much I could bear and He would never allow me to be tested beyond what I could bear. Indeed this baby brought joy to all of us at home. I thanked God for allowing me to experience His love.
We named our baby boy “Brendon”. He was very cute, adorable and had big eyes. Most people whom we met could never stop admiring his adorable face. We delighted in God’s gift for us. Brendon was a quiet boy and he seldom gave us problems. On his third birthday, something unexpected happened. I thanked God that it was His timely intervention that we discovered our son was not what we thought him to be. A psychologist confirmed that our son is suffering from a life-long psychological disorder called “autism”. We had no clue what that disorder is all about. After much explanation, we were shocked to learn that it was an incurable psychological disorder. An autistic individual lives in a world of his own; he cannot socialize and he may have severe speech disorder. We were told that he has to attend a special school for an intervention program, which would cost about S$1600.00 per month.
It was as though my beautiful dream was shattered. I recall at that instant that I burst into tears. It was the darkest moment of my life. I returned home that day in a state of devastation. I stared at my son for as long as I could remember, yet, I could not see any traces of abnormality in him. He was very handsome and he did not have any abnormal features. It could not be true that he is autistic. I wept and mourned before the Lord. I was caught in a dilemma; I could not accept the fact that he is autistic. Many questions of doubts came into my mind. I could not eat my meals and I was totally listless for about two weeks. I remember my husband was in a state of depression, too. Our daughter, Sharon, was five years old at that time and she was too young to understand what was happening.
Nevertheless, I thanked God that we found Christian Disciples Church that year (1994). I was facing an intensive struggle between God’s will and my own will when I could not understand why God gave me three wonderful years of raising up my cute little boy, just to discover he was not a normal kid three years later. Was God playing a prank on me? It was very painful for me to accept what was happening. I could not submit to God’s will at that moment for I did not understand God’s will for me. I wanted to give up my Christian faith and return to my old way of life. I blamed myself for what happened to Brendon because I gave birth to him. On the other hand, I could not understand how could a God of love inflict so much pain on His loved ones. It was difficult to see that He is a God of love who will never forsake us.
I earnestly prayed that God would reveal His will to me and He did. I read an article in a newsletter, which wrote about a story concerning the angels of God discussing with God as to who they should give this special baby? God’s reply was that a special baby has to be given to someone who can shower him with special love and care. At that instant, I understood that Brendon is a special gift from God and He will enable my husband and me to raise him up in accordance to His will. The Spirit of God led me to study the account of Job’s life. Job suffered not because he sinned, but all the evil things that happened in his life was within God’s control. Although he suffered, he did not blame God. The Word of God spoke to me at that moment and I was lifted up by the power of God’s love. I was deeply touched by God’s concern for my plight and I knew that He cares so much for me. As His word says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those... who are called according to His purpose.” [NASB]
I thanked the Lord for enlightening me. I have decided to follow the Lord no matter what happens. Deep within my heart, I believe that God’s grace, power and strength will enable me to press on. As Paul wrote in Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I was determined to live a victorious life with His strength. However, I had not put to death the old self completely and I faced a constant struggle over the thought that Brendon is autistic because I sinned. I earnestly prayed for the assurance from God. Once again God heard my cry and He sent one of His servants to our house one day. He is a missionary and he prayed for our whole family during that visit. Through that prayer, my husband and I received the assurance from God that it was not our fault that we have an autistic child. It was as though that we heard God’s voice speaking to our hearts and we were both in tears as the Holy Spirit touched our hearts. It was the first time I witnessed my husband in tears. We thanked God for the assurance of His love for us and that He will carry us through each and every stormy period.
After that prayer, I could sense that the Lord had lifted all my burdens away. He had turned my mourning into joy; there was an inner peace within me, which I have not experienced for quite a while. I praised Him over and over again. He is the Good Shepherd who has directed me out of the valley of darkness. I could feel God’s love enveloping me. Although my heart was unsure as to how to raise up this child, I was determined to surrender my whole family to the Lord. I knew that God is in control and only He knows what is ahead, for He holds the future. I knew that the path ahead would be difficult, but deep within, I was certain that God’s grace and power is sufficient to carry me through. As His Word has promised in 2 Cor. 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
We enrolled our son in a special school immediately. He was totally speechless at that time and he had severe behavior problems. During the first term, the teacher had to train him to sit and pay attention during lessons. Brendon had a short attention span and he could not sit on the chair for even one minute. He would engage in some self-stimulation behavior and could not understand a single word. He did not even know his own name. We tried very hard to teach him the word “wait” and it took months for him to understand the meaning of that word. I recall the frustration and anger within my heart whenever we were at public places. Eyes from all directions were staring at us as if we were hopeless parents who did not know how to discipline our son. Each moment when my son could not wait and misbehaved, I cried out to God, but God seemed far away and He did not come to my aid. I was full of anger because I felt I was being tested beyond my strength, yet the Word of God says that we will not be tempted beyond our ability to bear and that He will provide the way of escape. (1 Cor. 10:13) But where is the help? Where is the way of escape? I could not give thanks to God at all. Each time that happened, I sinned for my heart was angry with God. I had failed to understand what God was trying to teach me.
On many occasions, I lost control of myself for I could not stand my son’s behavior problems. I lost patience with him, as he could not understand a single word of what I said. Due to his inability in understanding, he was unable to follow instructions. Once I was so angry with him that I caned him; I threw the footstool on the floor until it broke apart. I remember he was crying in pain. I hugged him tightly and I was weeping with so much pain in my heart. I told the Lord that when I caned my son, it hurt him physically; but I was hurt even deeper, for it was as if a sharp dagger pierced through my heart. I knew I had failed the Lord and I had fallen into temptation. I pleaded for the forgiveness of God again and again.
Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, I joined the training program. I began to understand what commitment is all about. I have learned the importance of total commitment and that one has to live a life which is all the time abiding in Christ (John 15), for apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5). I knew I was treading on a difficult path and I have to be courageous. With my own strength I will not be able to accomplish anything. Only by the grace of God will I be able to win every single spiritual battle. I was determined to pursue the Lord even though I have failed the test time and again. In His time, the Lord showed me that the attitude of a true disciple is to serve. He is our master and we are His slaves. I stopped demanding that God should always be at my beck and call whenever I am in need.
As I have shared, my son is speechless. We consulted the speech therapist. We sought help from psychologists and many experts in this field. I began to realize that I was searching everywhere in the world for a solution to my son’s problem. We spent lots of money just to buy some comforting thoughts that we were doing something for our son. I consulted the teachers as to how to teach my son and I spent most of my time preparing teaching materials for him. All that I had in mind was to do all I could to make him “normal”. There were many disappointments as we saw that our son still remained speechless and was not making much progress. It was then that God revealed Himself to me once again. The Lord asked me, “Why are you seeking for a miracle cure for your son in this world? I am the answer.” I was stunned at that instance. Truly, I have been drawn to this world, thinking that there is a solution to my problem somewhere. In fact the answer is with Him as He holds the future and He is in control of everything.
Indeed the Lord is good all the time. He knew my spiritual state at that time. I was slowly drifting away from Him, yet thinking that I was still treading on the right path. However the Lord has never given up on me. He enabled me to see that I must learn to surrender all to Him and to be totally committed to Him. I realized that my commitment to Him has to be 100%; no partial commitment will ever save me. I was remorseful for all that I had done and I repented before the Lord once again. I began to experience God’s transformation power at work within me. All that I wanted to do was to know Him more and to understand His perfect will for my life. I committed my son and my whole family into His hands, knowing that God will supply all our needs in His time and in accordance to His will.
I have learned the importance of being absolutely honest with God. I told the Lord that it was beyond my ability to understand my son. I pleaded before the Lord to show me how to communicate with him. Amazingly, my son understood the word “wait” and he knew his name. My heart was overwhelmed with joy although he knew only one word. That was enough to assure me that God is able. It was a miracle! I stopped preparing teaching materials and I confessed before the Lord that it was beyond my ability to teach my son. I asked the Lord to teach my son as He permitted him to learn in His time.
As the days went by, we were told that it was almost impossible for him to have any speech, and that we must teach him sign language so as to enable him to communicate with us. Ever since I entrusted my son to the Lord, I had stopped listening to others’ opinion for I had decided to follow God’s instructions. In 1996, the Lord prepared my son for a special treatment called “Tomatis Treatment” that helped him to articulate. There were parents who sent their kids for this treatment but with no results at all. It was wonderful to see another miracle in my son’s life. He began to say words although there was no clarity of speech. In May 1997, he was able to call me “Mummy” for the first time. That truly melted my heart; I cried before the Lord with tears of joy. That was the best Mother’s Day gift for that year. Once again, the Lord had turned my mourning into joy. My joy was indescribable!
It was also in that year that my son began to join us during mealtimes. For many years, he refused to eat anything except potatoes. He would eat chips and French fries only. However God was very gracious to him; He took care of my son as I could see that he looked radiant and healthy. Our friends and relatives wondered what food we fed him because he appeared very strong and healthy indeed. We knew it was all God’s grace, love and mercy upon my son that he could be a healthy boy despite the imbalanced diet. The Lord removed his fear of new food and he began to sit at the dining table with us. I waited almost four years for my son to eat a meal with us. That was another miracle! Wow! I thanked the Lord that at last we are a complete family at the dining table. Praise the Lord!
Throughout the years, I could see how the Lord provided teachers to meet my son’s need. On a few occasions, we came across some disqualified teachers. I guess those were the times whereby our faith had been put to the test. We had to look to the Lord for help and He has shown His unfailing love and faithfulness. He removed those teachers and assigned new teachers to teach him. We saw God’s mighty hand at work; He sorted everything out so beautifully. Moreover, I realized that my son progresses much more without me spending time teaching him. That was truly amazing! The Lord taught Him through many ways.
We could also see that the Lord enabled my son to communicate with us through writing. In 1999, we discovered that he had a photographic memory for words. He could write any length of words at just one glance. Although he has minimal speech, he could communicate with us through writing. We praise and thank God for the skills given to my son. He is also very talented in drawing. He could observe every single detail of things around him and drew them with much clarity. God has been very good to my son despite his mental handicap.
A year later, God opened his vocal cords to enable him to speak. He is able to speak simple sentences with clarity. We taught him to pray and to sing praises to God. The desire of my heart is that my son will know there is a God who has been constantly helping him, enabling him to do things which were considered impossible in the sight of the world. I prayed that someday he, too, could testify with his own lips that God is real.
It has been seven years ever since we discovered our son’s psychological problem. Life has not been easy for all of us at home. My husband and I experienced a very unique and special love from God, which motivates us to love our son. We have become God’s channel of love to our son. Without God’s power and grace, we will not be able to survive all the hardships in the past seven years. We also thank God for giving us a daughter who is able to bear with her brother at all times. Although she had to miss out a lot of fun and enjoyment at such a young age, yet she did not complain and blame her brother. I was amazed how God worked in her heart at such a tender age that she could be so mature to understand and cope well. I could see God’s mighty work in her life, too.
After experiencing the reality of God on so many occasions, I appreciate God for putting me in an impossible situation. I have experienced God strengthen my faith through each and every trial. I felt that I have grown spiritually. If my son’s psychological problem could be cured through worldly means, I would have solved all his problems with my own strength. Precisely because it is incurable, I have had to be totally submissive to the will of God. Indeed how true is His word, as Paul said in 2 Cor. 12:9: “’for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” It is when we are weak that we can become God’s channel of power, that His power will be manifested through us so that the world may know that He is the true and living God.
As I end my sharing, my husband and I would like to give all glory, honor and praises to our God who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.
Scripture quotation is from the New American Standard Bible.
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church