I no longer fear death
Jessie Tan recounts here her near-death experience when she was giving birth to her second child in 1979. (Photo: James & Jessie Tan)
I was moving at top speed along an endless tunnel - something I had never experienced before. Fear gripped my feather-light ‘body’ as I journeyed through the tunnel to what seemed like nowhere.
Suddenly, gentle rays of bright light streamed into the dark tunnel from afar. Within split seconds, I emerged and found myself in a serene place. I was mesmerised by the lush greenery, sweet-smelling flowers and the crimson sky which appeared before my eyes. I looked up but the sun rays did not hurt my eyes. The colours around me
were extremely rich and vibrant. The quietude of the place enabled me to hear the melodious soft music which filled the air. I was extremely happy to be ‘delivered’ to such a place as I felt an inexplicable sense of joy that surged forth from within me.
In an ankle-length dress, I was seated in the garden all alone. Before me stood a three-storey white building which stretched across the horizon. All its wooden windows shut and there were no occupants.
Time seemed to pass by quickly and before I realised it, I heard a voice like pipe music diffusing into the surrounding air. It was a man’s voice. The voice was rich and strong.
He said, “Go home. There are many things you will have to do.”
“I’m not going home yet,”
I thought to myself. “I like this place but how should I tell the owner of this lovely place that I want to stay?” My thoughts could not escape the gentleman.
He ordered, “You HAVE to go now, it is already 5.45 p.m.” Hearing his stern and assertive tone, I knew that I had to go home.
Reluctantly, I replied with a firm “YES”.
Immediately, I managed to marshal sufficient strength to open my eyes. The clock in front of my hospital bed at Mt Alvernia Hospital read “5.45 p.m.” The room was not brightly lit and sitting beside me was my obstetrician, the late Dr Richard Yung from Tow Yung Clinic who was also a member of St Andrew’s Cathedral (Mandarin Congregation). He seemed to be praying for me as his staff nurse stood beside him, measuring my pulse rate.
I managed to open my eyes wider and began to slowly make sense of my surroundings. “Wasn’t I supposed to have gone into the operating theatre for a Caesarean-section to deliver my second child in the early morning?”
“So, is the surgery over or am I waiting to be operated on?” I wondered. “Why is the doctor and his nurse looking so serious and glum?” My mind was racing and I had so many unanswered questions but was way too tired and weak to probe. (Actually I had my caesarean-section done in the early morning and was in DEEP sleep till 5.45 p.m.)
The late Dr Richard Yung broke the silence saying, “Mrs Tan, don’t ever give birth again. You lost an incredible amount of blood as your uterus could not contract.”
I realised years later after reading some books, that I was actually “passing on” as a result of postpartum haemorrhage.
I used to be very fearful of death. My mother, before being converted, was a staunch Taoist and used to bring me to visit temples with fierce-looking statues. Taoists believe that there is only the suffering hell where the dead will be thrown into the valley of fire.
However, after the experience I had when I gave birth to my second child, Jane, I have abandoned my fear of death. The beautiful place I was at was either paradise or heaven.
By God’s grace, not only was I given a glimpse of heaven but the opportunity to ‘communicate’ with God. Since then, I have abandoned my fear of death.
Against strong parental objections, James and I, together with Amy and Jane, we were baptised the following year and since then I have never looked back. After giving my life to Christ, I joined an SAC cell group with the late Canon Lomax (Vicar then) as our cell leader. A few years later, we had Mrs Wong Hoe Eng as our cell leader. When I had tasted the goodness and love of Abba God, I did not want to waste my weekends on shopping, frequenting coffee corners, chasing after TV dramas, etc. God has helped me to be more yielding unto him. He placed in my heart the desire to read the Bible, attend SAC courses and training sessions (e.g. Deliverance Ministry, DLT courses, etc). Initially, the sacrifice of time and exercise of self-discipline was tough. With prayers, we were able to do what we thought was impossible to achieve.
My desire to love and serve God had inspired the whole family to draw closer to God. Sometime in 1993 or perhaps earlier, Jane started serving in the worship team as a pianist at both the then 9.30 a.m. service and the 7.30 p.m. New Life Service. Our elder daughter, Amy, also served in the worship team as a co-singer and taught at the 9.30 a.m. Sunday School. Joshua, our son, leads worship once a month at New Life Service in 2011. Since 1996, James and I started serving the Lord at the New Life Service. Besides, I was also involved in Prayer Ministry for a good number of years. There was so much JOY serving our Lord Jesus and I have no regrets giving up my leisure and weekends all these 15 long years to serve the Lord.
Our God is a living God who searches hearts and HE KNOWS every thought in our mind. God has again given me a second lease of new life in 2011. I know for sure, my life is in God’s mighty hands and I will serve him till the end of my days.
With a contrite heart I pray for God’s Grace to allow my children and grandchildren to be God-Chasers and to take joy to be in His Service.