Hope was reborn on the first Easter Sunday over 2,000 years ago, when Jesus Christ conquered death. Now Christians have hope not just in the afterlife, but here on earth. Members of City Harvest Church share their personal stories of hope, healing and restoration, all testifying to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in the worst of times: the end of a relationship, addiction and financial crisis.
It was an ill-fated romance that died, but God resurrected love again for Kelvin Loh, a JIA 88.3FM deejay and Sarah Teo, a teacher. The two met in 2008, during a Christmas service at City Harvest Church. He left a mark on her—
accidentally stepping on her foot until it bled. That less-than-positive encounter gradually gave way to mutual feelings of attraction as they bonded over outings with friends.
Teo, 28, says, “As he was a Singapore Airlines flight steward then, we could only communicate through text messages. He would send me a text message before he took off and once he landed. He would also buy me gifts from different countries, and even cooked me delicious meals when he was in Singapore. We finally went steady in 2010 on Valentine’s Day.”
But things soon turned stormy. Loh, now 28, went through a stressful period in his personal life and it took its toll on the relationship. He recalls, “As the eldest son, I had to take care of my family; they were going through a very difficult time. We had to escape from loansharks, I had to work hard and provide for them, and personally I was lost and depressed. I felt so burdened, and had no capacity to love and care for anyone or anything else, even Sarah. I had also just quit my job as an air steward.”
Teo became afraid of her boyfriend. “When we went out on dates, I was constantly interacting with a time bomb; I do not know when he would explode or when he would turn angry on me. I was afraid and felt very hurt. I started to be very uncomfortable during our time together and did not enjoy him anymore.” After a tumultous year and a half together, the relationship died. Loh broke it off with Teo over a Facebook message. “In my heart I knew I still loved her, just that I had no capacity at all, or rather I didn’t know how to love,” he admits.
Teo was devastated. “Being young, I expected a lot from the relationship—the perfect, spiritual boyfriend who would love, cherish and guide me … I did not give him space to grow. I left the relationship in utter shreds, feeling very disappointed in God and in Kelvin.”
A while after their breakup, a friend of theirs passed away. The news hit Teo particularly hard, as he was one of her closest friends. As Loh supported her through the ordeal, she realized there was a change in him; he was more understanding, more even-tempered, and had become a better listener. “I gradually became comfortable talking to him again and feelings started to blossom,” she says. “But I was still very hesistant to hope for anything because as most people would say, ‘What did not work in the past will not work now.’”
Loh at that point was not out of the woods personally yet. “I wasn’t doing well spiritually, financially … pretty much in all aspects of life. I was jobless for around nine months. Having no income and so much commitment, I was really worried.” Teo would send him encouraging text messages, checking to see if he was all right. She even blessed him with money to support his daily living.
Things began to turn around when Loh enrolled in SOT in 2012. “During one session, the dean, pastor Bobby Chaw preached about life’s priorities, that we cannot move on unless we clear up our mess before God. I reflected on my life, and surrendered my life before Him, asking God to show me what to do with my life. God told me to restore my relationship.”
One day, Loh emailed Sun Ho, co-founder of CHC, who met up with him, counselled and prayed for him. “She told me I must let go of the past in order to move on. She told me I can really trust God and put all my past in His hands, He will take care of me! I wept and decided to let go. I felt a burden was lifted up from me! By the grace of God, I started to feel joy and love again. At the beginning of my relationship with Sarah, I didn’t feel much love; it was just a ‘duty’ to me. But I learned over time, to love freely and unconditionally. God restored our relationship, He taught me to forgive, to let go of the past and move on.”
Knowing that Ho was helping her former beau, Teo plucked up the courage to email Ho also. The reply came almost immediately, and while it wasn’t a long one, it “released her from the torment in my heart,” describes Teo. “Sun said, ‘Sarah, all that is happening is not your fault. God is in control. Hang in there, I am praying for you.’ I felt so so comforted and for the first time, I felt I was not alone. I felt released from the burdens and my heart started to heal. I felt like I could love Kelvin again, and this time, unconditionally.”
On Dec. 31, 2012, a year and a half after their courtship ended, they got back together. Having grown up in a single-parent household, Loh had to shed his cynicism about love. He says, “I had told myself I would never want to open up or to let anyone come into my life. After being with Sarah, my emotional life experienced resurrection and healing. She showed me real, unconditional love. She taught me how to be open to receive love. She helped me to deal with my inner struggles, and constantly supported me without fail.”
In December 2015, the couple tied the knot, and the Lohs are now expecting their first child.
“We would never have made it if it wasn’t for God who has never left nor forsaken us,” says Teo. “As long as we constantly place God at the center of our relationship, love is always present. In our human wisdom, maintaining a relationship can so hard, but when we love with His love, all becomes possible. Forgiveness becomes easy, smiling after a quarrel is natural, praying together after an argument becomes necessary. God is everything to me and to us. With Him, our love will blossom, bloom and grow.”