Trigger warning: This article contains mention of suicide.

Growing up, I was sometimes bullied for being different.

These experiences made me feel really small and very insecure about who I was.

I felt increasingly sad, but also increasingly angry. I wanted to prove all these people wrong.

To overcome the insecurity that I felt, I went the extra mile to perform really well in what I wanted to do.

While growing up, the encounters that Levan had because of his albinism made him feel small and insecure. During his primary school years, he attended the Singapore School for the Visually Handicapped, now known as Lighthouse School.

One of the things that I did was to become a rock musician.

I joined a band called Ronin and went into it full time. I thought that if we could just reach that goal of being the top band, life would have meaning — I would prove that my life had a purpose.

I gave it my all, and the band became really popular. We had fame, made a name for ourselves. Within one year, we were having songs on the radio.

Levan (far left) and his band. Ronin’s debut album, Do or Die, was distributed by Universal Music.

I had fame and success

Things really turned around 180 degrees: When I was a kid, I felt that people looked down on me. But when I was in the band, I felt that people looked up to me.

I thought that I had proven my worth. I was telling the world: “You thought I wouldn’t make it, you thought that just because I was born different I couldn’t make it. Look at me now!”

But when I reached the peak of the band’s success, I felt even emptier and angrier than before. 

There was still something missing in my heart. That was when I decided to leave. I just dropped everything and left the band.

At one point, Ronin was banned from returning to one third of the venues they performed in. Antagonistic in nature, the band was known for spewing vulgarities on stage.

Then I decided that I was going to pursue a doctorate in philosophy. I thought that if I could score top grades, then life would have meaning.

I literally studied seven days a week. And I told everyone arrogantly: “I’m just going to beat you. I’m going to be the top student, and then you’re going to respect me”. That was my thinking.

And I did. I had a perfect GPA. I had a full scholarship for my PhD.

I graduated as the valedictorian of the cohort. I had everything an academic student would want.

On the day Levan received his PhD, he wore a T-shirt featuring horror film antagonists Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees under his graduation robe.

Even academic achievements didn’t help

For a short period of time, I felt really good about myself. 

But after things settled down, I felt that same emptiness creeping back into my life. I still felt inadequate, that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t worthy of all these things.

When that happened, the high from graduating as the top student just went away, and I was just left with myself again.

I realised that I had been chasing so many highs in my life – success, education, fame. But every single time I succeeded, I always came crashing down, feeling low and worse than before.

I thought about it and decided I didn’t want to go through these cycles of highs and lows for the next 50 years of my life. I wanted to die.

A still from Levan’s video interview.

I remember one day in particular, I was looking out of the window and just thinking: “How nice if I could end things now.”

There was this weird sense of detachment from the whole situation. I didn’t care whether I was dead or not because there was no meaning in life.

But there was a part of me that knew this was not what life was supposed to be.

As kids, we were curious, we felt joy, we were so alive. And I wondered where did that joy and purpose of living go?

I guess something in me had always been hopeful. I was hoping that there was meaning to life – I just couldn’t find it on my own.

That was when I decided to cry out to God for the first time in my entire life.

Anyone who knows me knows that praying to God is one of the last things that I would have done.

Levan during his punk rock days.

I wanted to know if God was real

For decades, I didn’t entertain the idea of God. I felt that anyone who believed in God was just weak.

I especially disliked Christians who told me that God was good, that God had a plan for me. I hated that because I never saw it in my own life.

But when I was looking out of the window and desperately hanging on to that glimmer of hope, I decided I had nothing to lose.

I said: “God, I don’t know if You’re real. I don’t think You’re real. But if You’re real, show me.”

The moment I finished the prayer, I started to see visions. I would see an object in my mind and then on the day itself, see the object in real life.

There were so many visions, from a green plastic bag to a bird, but I will just share two.

For example, I saw a vision of a four-leaf branch and remember feeling like it was placed in an odd area. That day, I entered the lift and saw that someone had put a four-leaf branch on the railing.

I also saw a supermarket trolley in the middle of a void deck with the words “so strange, this trolley is in the middle of nowhere”.

That afternoon, my friend visited me at my neighbourhood, saw the trolley in the void deck and said the exact phrase I saw in my head – even though there was no supermarket nearby my house.

Objects that Levan saw in his visions would somehow end up appearing in real life.

Initially I thought these were just coincidences. I even tried to psychoanalyse myself – maybe I was “seeing things” because I wanted any reason to stay alive.

But as the days passed and the objects and the situation in the vision got increasingly rare, it was getting harder to explain it all away.

I told God He had to give me irrefutable proof.

So I told God He had to give me irrefutable proof. The series of events that happened in the weeks after was incredible.

The stuff included seeing a green floating light orb and feeling a sudden downpour a few days later. 

I was heading out to buy coffee one day when I started to feel some sort of electric rain. It was as though I had stepped into a static field. I looked up, only to realise there was a ceiling over me so it couldn’t have been raining.

But I felt it. And as the rain fell, I was overwhelmed by a sense of love.

I knew then that all these signs were not of me grasping at straws nor of my imagination. God knew I needed such explicit supernatural signs because my heart was so hardened and there were decades of cynicism He had to undo.

I was so shocked, I ran home and said: “God, I think I believe You.”

That’s when I saw a vision of an open cave in my living room. There was a man in a white robe standing in the distance. I don’t know how but I immediately knew He was Jesus.

He held His hands out and the moment I touched Him, I felt an electric current – the same feeling I experienced from the rain – going through my whole body.

I felt my spirit lifted and travelling fast through a tunnel. And I came upon this huge silhouette that was blue and flickering. I realised that in my very living room, I was looking at an angel before me.

I wasn’t threatened, but I felt so small in its majestic presence that I fell to the ground, as low as I could prostrate myself.

I started crying and saying: “I’m so sorry, God. For my whole life, I never believed in you. I’ve always made fun of people who believed in you.

“And I’m really sorry for the hurt that I may have caused people in my anger. I’m really sorry for all the wrongs that I’ve done in my life.”

Levan with his friends who have encouraged him in his faith journey.

That’s when I felt God’s voice resonating through my chest. He said three words: I love you.

In that moment, I broke.

For my whole life, I had felt insecure and inadequate. But here was the Creator of the universe who took the time to make me feel better.

And He told me that He loved me even though I had done nothing to deserve it. I went as far away from God as I could, and yet He welcomed me.

From that day on, I gave my life to God. I told God that I would work with Him to find the meaning that I had given up on because if He is real, there has to be a meaning to life.

I found purpose 

God directed me to Youth With A Mission, a missionary school, where I rebuilt my life.

The more I gave up my old way of thinking, the more I wanted to give in to God and the more I didn’t feel so insecure anymore. I started to believe that there is a purpose to each of our lives.

Levan and his fiancee, both walking in God’s direction.

I believe that everyone reaches a point in their lives where we ask themselves: “What is the true purpose of our existence?”

And I think that what we’re really asking is: “What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What are we meant to do? What is the point of living if we’re all going to die?”

When men first sinned, we were meant to be eternally separated from God. And that was when death was introduced.

The thing is, no matter how hard we try on our own, we are sinful by nature. So we can never reconcile ourselves to God on our own terms, by our own deeds.

And in His love, God sent His own Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sin as the perfect sacrifice. We weren’t born to die. Only Jesus was.

 

For me, knowing that there is a Creator of the universe who would die for us touches my heart. It gives my life new-found meaning that I didn’t have before.

Because now I know that the greatest meaning of life is having a relationship with the One who gave us life.