Because He Lives, We Can Face Tomorrow
16 Easters ago, Ke-Yue and Shirley Jiang did not know if their son Joel would see the light of day. But they held fast to Christ’s victory at the cross – and witnessed many miracles of His resurrection power!
Ke-Yue and Shirley, Area One, had sung the hymn “Because He Lives” in church before, but it took on a whole new meaning 16 years ago when Shirley was pregnant with their first child, Joel.
Shirley: Joel is our firstborn, God’s precious gift to us 16 years ago. While he was in the womb, doctors discovered he had multiple heart defects and was unlikely to survive beyond six months after birth. Ke-Yue and I were advised to consider an abortion.
It was Easter 2006, and the hymn “Because He Lives” played in church. With tears streaming down our faces, we both knew that God was assuring us that even though our child would face uncertain days, we could bravely face tomorrow. Life is worth living because Jesus died for us, rose again, and lives.
Our Miracle Son
Ke-Yue: Many miracles took place from the day Joel was born. While doctors all thought he would be born blue and prepared oxygen tanks at the delivery suite, he was born a healthy pink and even cried loudly.
At seven days old, Joel underwent an open-heart surgery. His heart stopped briefly after the surgery, but he lived and spent his first year in hospital.
During this time, there were many complications that left us wondering if Joel would make it. In one instance, Joel suddenly went blind and there was nothing that the doctors could do. Shirley and I prayed for a miracle. Several weeks later, we were amazed when God healed Joel and he could see again!
God healed Joel and he could see again.
Shirley: Joel could not walk, but we persevered through years of physiotherapy and kept declaring, “We believe our son will walk independently.”
At seven years old, Joel suddenly walked from one corner of the mat to the other during a physiotherapy session at school. I was overwhelmed by emotion and cried in thanksgiving to God. Though it took seven years, our boy could finally walk on his own. It was one of the many milestones that God would help Joel achieve in his life.
Ke-Yue: When Joel turned 13, we were told he needed another surgery. Years of overwork had caused Joel’s heart to swell up significantly and his heart function had severely deteriorated.
His heart could fail at any time.
Surgery could correct his heart problem, but it could also be fatal since doctors were unsure if Joel’s heart was big enough to receive the smallest valve implant. They would only know when they opened him up.
We sought a second opinion and other doctors told us not to go for the operation as the risks of a second open-heart surgery were extremely high. They advised us to prioritize his quality of life instead.
Without surgery, this meant Joel would die as soon as his heart gave way.
Surgery could correct his heart problem, but it could also be fatal.
That was not something we could accept. As his parents, we wanted to give Joel a fighting chance at life. Amid our confusion, we responded to an altar call at Trinity’s service. Pastor Edward Lim prayed with us for a miracle, and thereafter Sister (now Pastor) Jeannette Kwek followed up to minister to us.
God gave us the peace to wait for Joel’s heart to grow bigger so that he could receive the valve. We eventually waited for two years – until Joel was 15 years old – to proceed with the operation.
Shirley: I was heart-broken. Joel had lived through many surgeries and was finally enjoying a more comfortable life. He was lively and happy.
If the worst happened on the operating table, I decided I would rather have Joel return to the Lord than live in a vegetative state. I asked my three other children to remind me not to be angry with God if Joel did not survive the surgery. No matter what happened, we would see him again in heaven because we know that Christ has given Joel the gift of eternal life.
Throughout our emotional turmoil and fears of losing Joel, our Connect Group and Area Pastor rallied around us. Just before the operation, Pastor Eveleen Ng and two of Joel’s DiscoveryLand (Trinity’s Children’s Ministry) teachers came to visit and pray with us. Pastor Leslie Lam also prayed for Joel on Zoom. We were greatly comforted.
The old familiar hymn “Because He Lives” rang in our hearts again. Because He lives, we could go through this!
Ke-Yue: Moments before being wheeled in for his surgery, Joel asked to watch DiscoveryLand’s worship video one more time. Shirley asked him, “Who will be with you as you go for the ‘cut-cut’?” – referring to the surgery.
“You and Daddy,” said Joel, using his iPad communicator. And he gestured and pointed up, reminding us that his Heavenly Father, God, has been and would always be with him.
I carried Joel to the operating table in complete surrender. I held him while they put him to sleep and struggled to hold back my tears as I watched him lose consciousness in my arms.
Would I be able to see him alive, lively, and happy as he had been moments ago?
Nearly four hours later, the surgery was done. We were surprised as the surgery was supposed to take up to six hours. The doctors told us that the new valve was a perfect fit, avoiding the need for other complicated surgical techniques that carried higher risks.
The doctors told us that the new valve was a perfect fit!
Once again, God did not fail us. We obeyed His call to wait for Joel’s heart to grow before proceeding to surgery, despite the possibility that his heart could suddenly fail without warning in the process. God sustained Joel’s heart until the surgery was a complete success!
Before and After
Shirley: Joel recovered faster than expected. That weekend, he joined his DiscoveryLand Connect Group via Zoom from the Intensive Care Unit. There he was, attending with all his tubes still attached.
Within a week, he was discharged from the hospital. Since then, Joel has been back in church, back in his Father’s house.
His heart, which had never been fully functional, is now pumping at 100% capacity. Six months after the surgery, he gained 10 kilograms and was taken off all the heart medication that he had been taking for the past 15 years! He has even taken up a new hobby of para cycling now.
Watch Ke-Yue & Shirley’s story
Ke-Yue: Through countless medical complications, God has preserved Joel’s life. Joel knows this and has had a personal connection with God since young. I believe God met him personally as he battled for his life in the hospital. His first words were not ‘Mommy’ or ‘Daddy’ but “Amen!” one night in a prayer before bedtime.
He can even lift up his hands in worship and sit when it’s time to listen to the Word of God.
Shirley: God has blessed us with Joel for a reason. He points people to Jesus, our Healer, and reminds us that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. He is a testimony of God’s power and miracles.
His grandma has also come to receive Christ after witnessing the many miracles God has performed for him.
“….You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up.” (Psalms 71:20b)
Reflect & Respond
With God, all things are possible. In your own life, how has Easter reflected this truth?
Want to read more ‘Real Life Miracles'? Come to Trinity’s on-site services and pick up a copy of Real Life Miracles Vol. 3 at our information counters or service halls. Share true stories of hope with your loved ones.
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