Darrion Lau began gambling when he was in Primary 6. It became a lifetime habit that nearly ended his marriage, until God showed him his weakness.
“When I was growing up, every Chinese New Year, my relatives would gather to gamble,” recalls Darrion Lau, 29, a property agent. “I came from a broken family—my parents were divorced and I lived with my mother. My father had a gambling problem.”
To 12-year-old Darrion, gambling was just fun and games. “We always played for money. I was also the banker most of the time,” he says.
Darrion came to City Harvest Church when he was in Secondary 1. He did not disclose his penchant for gambling to anyone in church as, at the time, he didn’t see it as a problem. But the habit grew from Chinese New Year games of Blackjack to football betting when he entered Polytechnic. When he started National Service, it grew even more serious: Darrion began playing Texas poker in illegal gambling houses with strangers. The winning was addicting: “I would win at first, but then I would lose a lot,” he admits.
It was during his NS days that he began dating Margaret Sng, who had been his cell group leader since he came to church. “When I told her about my gambling habit, she was shocked,” he says. “She hated it, because her father was also a gambler, and her parents also divorced. But she kept me in prayer, and forgave me over and over.”
After completing NS, Darrion began working as a property agent, and that was when he was introduced to stock trading. “I was trading index and stocks with a huge amount of leveraging,” he recounts, adding that while others may trade for investments, he went in hoping to win big.
By 2015, he and Margaret were married, and they had their first child Nathan in 2018. Darrion attempted to break his habit. “I had lost close to $140,000 by then. I promised my wife never to do it again.”
WHEN TEMPTATION REARED ITS HEAD
Darrion managed to stay clean for a season. In 2019, both he and Margaret received a word from the Lord that he should enrol into CHC’s School of Theology. “So I started the journey in SOT and it was all good, till my gambling addiction kicked in again,” Darrion shares. What triggered him was his brother-in-law regaling him with tales of successful trades on the stock market, and temptation got the better of Darrion. “I even thought, ‘I’m in SOT, God can prosper me through trading’!”
He would attend Bible school in the day, and trade stocks at night. Darrion began chalking up debts, borrowing large sums from the bank by extending his cash line. Before he knew it, his debt had climbed to $200,000. Margaret, who was pregnant with their second child, gave him an ultimatum. “She wanted to divorce me because I kept making the same mistake,” he reveals.
Darrion hit rock bottom when his daughter Natalie arrived in August 2019. “On the day she was born I needed to make payment to the hospital, but I used the $10,000 my friend lent me to trade, and I lost it all in a day,” he remembers.
“When she needed specialist treatment for jaundice I hesitated, because I was already in debt. In the end, my mother-in-law paid for her treatment.
“I didn’t enjoy the birth of my daughter, because the debt haunted me. I didn’t enjoy SOT, because during lessons I was thinking about the debt and trading. This gambling addiction broke me.
“When I saw the state my family was in, I hated myself so much. I told myself I needed to change.”
At that point, Darrion felt that God was absent even though he was in SOT. He explains, “Gamblers have this delusion that God will save us, so we keep going. I wanted answers from God on what trade to make, but he was silent. I kept thinking, why was I in SOT? In my mind most people that go to SOT, they are victorious, but I came out defeated.”
It was only after he graduated from SOT that Darrion, together with Margaret, sought counsel from SOT’s Academic Dean, Pastor Tan Kim Hock. “Pastor Kim Hock told me that this weakness of mine may be with me for the rest of my life, and I need to keep it in check and have a system for handling this addiction,” he relates.
He had come to the end of himself. It was exhausting trying to beat this addiction in his own strength and constantly failing. “I was so tired of me controlling my own finances—doing it my way was not working out for me, so I asked God to handle it. I prayed so hard for this addiction to be taken away from me. I could feel that the devil really wanted to destroy me and my family.”
WHEN YOU CAN’T SEE GOD’S HAND, TRUST HIS HEART
Darrion realised that the silence he encountered during Bible school was really God’s way of telling him gambling was not His will for him.
“I am glad that I went to SOT, because that was when the Lord revealed my weakness to me just when I thought I was over it,” he says, adding that God’s blessing in another area of his life what was made him realise He had not left or forsaken Darrion.
“Although I lost a lot of money in stocks, God was gracious and blessed my property deals,” he says. “He was present through every one of them. To this day, I can see that the Lord’s hand is with me in my work. While revealing my weakness to me, the Lord preserves me and provides a way out for me where He can prosper the work of my hands.”
The Lord began to speak to Darrion about being blessed to be a blessing. “After SOT 2019, we started a chat group for our class alumni. In 2020, COVID hit and it was a tough time for everyone, especially our classmates in Third World countries,” Darrion relates. “One of our classmates Jason asked those in the chat group to pray for a group of 165 Vietnamese Christian families in a village who were facing drought and lack of food. These families had pleaded with the local authorities for assistance but because they were believers, they were told, ‘Let other Christians help you.’”
Provoked, Darrion felt led by God to give an amount to these families. “I believe in prayer, but we also needed to do something about this situation,” he explains. “Margaret and I proceeded to give $2,000 so that we could feed most of the families.”
To Darrion’s surprise, the very next day he closed a property deal. What was even more encouraging was that his fellow cell group member, upon hearing about their donation, decided to also give to the Vietnamese Christians. “We gave another round of $1,000 each for them to build a well, so that they could have access to fresh water.”
Since then, this has been the practice between Darrion and God. “God is very funny,” he muses. “He would give me a number and a name. I would obey Him. The next day, a property deal would go through—I know it’s the Lord because He is the one who closes the difficult deals for me. So I have learned not to struggle with giving.”
Each time Darrion received such a call from God, he would check with Margaret. Often, he says, God would speak to them separately about the person He wants them to bless. “Almost every time, the Lord would speak to her too, and confirm the same person that He showed to me,” he shares.
The father of two does not take God’s grace for granted. “The Lord is merciful to me and my family,” he says. “I am thankful that my wife is willing to stay with me even after all the heartbreak, and I am grateful that the Lord blesses us so that we can make a difference in someone else’s life.”
Journeying out of a gambling addiction is not an overnight miracle, Darrion points out. He has not gambled since graduating from SOT in September 2019, but he is well aware that such an addiction is “a thorn in my flesh, something that will be with me for the rest of my life. I need to constantly remember that I will lose if I gamble.” He shares that while he has not cleared his debt fully, he is on track to doing so.
To those battling the same addiction, Darrion advises them to take the first step and tell someone they trust. “Don’t be afraid to share,” he says. “Ask someone close to you if they would let you be accountable to them. And Pastor Kim Hock gave me a very good piece of advice: let your other half or someone close to you handle your finances until such time that you are able to do it on your own.”
It has been a difficult journey for Darrion and Margaret, but it has been one where God was with them every step of the way. “My revelation as I journey through this is that God is a good God. He allowed this weakness to be revealed in me so that He could deal with it. He has a hope and a future for me, no matter how hopeless things seem.”
THE SPIRITUAL TRUTH ABOUT ADDICTION
Pastor Audrey Ng of CHC’s Liberty Ministry explains how to begin breaking the spiritual hold of addictions.
We must understand that one of the greatest weapons that Satan uses against mankind today is the power of addiction. Addiction is a powerful force that takes hold of the mind, then the body and ultimately the soul of those that are caught up in it. We are all sinners and are addicted to sin and to the ways of this world and we cannot break free without the divine intervention from our Lord Jesus Christ.
So firstly, we need to admit that we have a problem and are powerless over our addiction. Romans 3:23-24 says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” We confess our sins before the Lord and then acknowledge the need to have help and the power of Jesus to deliver us.
Then we make a decision and turn our will and life over to Jesus and speak out the power of His death on the cross and His resurrection power over our lives.
So we admit to God first, then to other Christian friends and counsellors (James 5:16, Confess your trespasses to one another, that you may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”)
Finally, make a decision to remove all sins from our hearts and seek healing and deliverance. We also need to renounce the old life that we were living and give it all to Jesus in repentance. We must have a revelation that we are a new creation in Christ and we are walking in the newness of life. (Ephesians 4:22-24, that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.)