Happenings, News


The Rev Egon Ostrom, Methodist missionary assigned to the Sumatra Mission Conference in 1931, had this remarkable story of Lam Chin to tell. A frail, elderly woman, her life was changed from an idol-worshipper to a humble but effective Christian, sharing the Gospel with others in her community.

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From idol-worshipper to effective Gospel story-teller

‘…BY NATURE Lam Chin was kind and good-hearted. She loved amity and peace, and in the loud quarrels among her Chinese neighbours she was frequently called upon to act as peacemaker.

She was the confidant of the whole neighbourhood. Rich and poor, proud and lowly – all came with their troubles to this kind little woman, sure of her sympathetic understanding and her willingness to lend her shrewd common sense to the solving of their problems.

She succeeded in making others happy, but oh, how unhappy she was herself! Enshrouded in the darkness of superstition and heathenism she struggled for peace – for something that would satisfy her soul’s craving.

She strictly observed the rites of her religion and was absolutely loyal to her gods, hoping by that means to find release from the misery and agony of her soul.

Exactly 30 years ago she came to Bagan Si Api Api. She did not forget to bring her idols along.

She faithfully visited the temple. Whenever she brought the gods offerings she secured the most e x p e n s i v e
“goldpaper” and the sweetest smelling incense. Not that she was rich!

On the contrary, she was very, very poor and had to work extremely hard and deny herself many necessities in order to buy gifts for the gods.

For more than 50 years she served her idols with fasting and prayer night and day. About a year ago she visited a
Sunday morning service, held in our simple little Methodist Chapel. It was the first time she had ever attended a Christian meeting. Much of the minister’s sermon she failed to understand, but God drew near and His Spirit worked miraculously in her heart. It had become amazingly clear to her that she must change her life. Then and there she made up her mind to do so, and became an earnest seeker for truth and light.

Surely it was not accidental that the minister’s wife became ill just at that time and that this old woman was called into her home to lend a helping hand. Consideration, happiness and love characterised every deed in this humble parsonage. What a great difference between this house and her own! Tactfully and lovingly she was led to a true knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I met her half a year ago and I shall never forget the impression she made upon me. I had just finished my sermon when she leaped to her feet and stood before that great crowd of ignorant, questioning people. She was ignorant herself. She knew but little of Christian doctrines.

She bore a testimony which I am sure had 10 times greater effect upon the listeners than my sermon. She had in her old age accepted a new religion and begun a new life!

She has reached the age of three score years. Her body is frail. Formerly her feet were bound and walking was not easy. But each afternoon she puts on her nicest clothing and goes out to perform the task which God has given her to fulfil. She visits homes telling everybody what God has done for her, and inviting them to church.

On my last visit to Bagan Si Api Api, I baptised two women and a man, the “first fruits” of Lam Chin’s labours. — Methodist Message, Aug-Sep 1933, p.14.

Earnest Lau, the Associate Editor of Methodist Message, is also the Archivist of The Methodist Church in Singapore