Once a gang member, David King Raj met Jesus in prison and found his way back to his purpose.
By Sylvester Pillay
Most 15-year-old students are given playing an occasional harmless prank on their friends. Not so for David King Thorairajan: the pranks he played led him to prison.
Coming from a family where his parents were preoccupied with work, young Thorairajan—or Thorai, as his friends called him—turned to his friends for entertainment, enjoyment and excitement. Hungry to be part of a family, Thorai lived his life for his friends. Unfortunately, he mixed with the wrong crowd and found himself involved in gang fights for the sake of friendship.
Things turned ugly in the year 2000. It began with a gang fight that cost his best friend his life; Thorairajan spent 18 months in prison and was given six strokes of the cane. Not learning his lesson, upon his release, Thorairajan went seeking revenge for his best friend’s death. He was involved in another fight and was imprisoned a second time in 2002. This time, he was put away for eight years. He was only 21.
Thorairajan was angry and confused when he entered prison. But it was at this lowest point of his life that, God found him. He first started attending the prison’s chapel sessions because they gave him a chance to venture outside his cell. Gradually, he discovered true freedom: freedom from sin and death. He experienced the unconditional love of Christ through the acceptance and support he received from the volunteer counselors in the chapel. Touched deeply, Thorairajan made a decision to live for Christ every day—his life had been completely transformed.
His story was told on Mediacorp Channel 5’s television program, Confession Of A Crime, which traces the journeys of ex-convicts. When asked why he was willing to go public with his story, he tells City News, “There are probably two reasons why someone would boldly confess their past in public—either for their own glory or the glory of God—I chose to do it for the latter. My story belongs to God; it’s shaped to reveal His Glory.”
After receiving salvation, Thorairajan truly became a new creation and today, calls himself “David King Raj”. Over the next three years in prison, he sat for his GCE N-, O- and A-level examinations and passed with excellent results—he topped the entire prison cohort taking their O-level examinations. Upon his release in 2008, Raj entered the Singapore Management University and graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences, with double majors in Psychology and Organizational Behavior – Human Resources in 2011.
“My journey with Christ is the most humbling experience ever. To be with the One who pardoned me and bore all my punishment. He is the leader I have decided to enslave myself to,” says Raj, adding that during his final three years in prison as a Christian, he had “many great experiences.”
Today, Raj is 31 and the founder and director of his own company, MoveMentor Consultancy, which he has structured as a social enterprise. He is a life coach and motivational speaker and focuses on transmitting values and life skills to his clients, as well as transforming others’ lives through personal and social mastery. He does considerable work with youth-at-risk, helping them to avoid the path he once took through therapy youth-camps, academic-strategic coaching and mentoring programs for youths.
“Every youth-at-risk is uniquely different. Some have had far worse childhood experiences than I had,” he notes. “We organized a Parents’ Forum last month to empower parents, who often shirk the responsibility of mentoring their children. We offer individual mentoring where parents assign us to guide their children. We hope more people will sign up as mentors, and that we have more opportunities to serve the youth and their parents.”
Raj now tells Christian parents: “Quality time comes with quantity of time. Devote yourself to Scripture and prayers for your children as much as you can. The Word of God has power to change what humans cannot.
“The Word of God is what helps sustain me. Food I can live without, but not the Scriptures,” he continues. “Everybody needs a compass to travel out of the jungle; my compass is the Word of God. God speaks to me from the Word daily, to guide me in my behaviors, attitudes, visions, passions, missions, decisions and His will for me.”