My parents knew I had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when I was diagnosed as a child, but they kept it from me. When I went for my check-ups, my mother told me the medicine I was given was just a “sleeping aid”.

It was only later on in my childhood that I discovered my condition by typing “ADHD” in a search engine. As I read the medical description of the disorder, things slowly started to make sense. Oh … This is me.

That explained why I never ran out of energy. I was always somewhat “different” from the rest and the older I got, the more I struggled to cope in class. My teachers didn’t know how to handle me, so they put me right at the back of the class.

This made me resigned to how things were in school. So I gave up.

But I still wanted attention.

I ended up getting it the wrong way, finding solidarity with other kids who weren’t good at school – matreps, paikias, bengs and lians. These were all my friends, and I took what looked like a logical step as a kid without a place in the world: I joined a gang.

When I was 14, I was involved in a gang fight. As we fought, I was hit by something hard on the head that left me sprawling on the ground. Things escalated and I quickly realised we were losing the fight.

At that point, one of our “enemies” wanted to slash my friend up with a parang. I was scared. Panicking, I took up another parang which lay on the ground beside me and swung wildly in a wide arc upwards.

Everything was a blur in that moment, but when my vision cleared, I saw that I had hurt someone. Very badly.

I was young, stupid and scared. When the police arrived at the scene, I was dragging an injured “brother” to safety. He told me in Hokkien to run. But I didn’t.

I carried him as far as I could until four policemen pounced on me, pinning me, this 1.4m-tall criminal, to the ground.

Days later they charged me at the youth court, where I was given a “Rolex watch” – an ankle monitor – and put under probation.

Perhaps you’re wondering where my family was this entire time.

Well, I asked that question many times myself growing up. Though I came from a “complete” family, it was in reality a dysfunctional one. My parents’ marriage was on the rocks – they were both successful professionals working overseas separately – and my sisters had been sent to live with our auntie.

So I was often alone in our big house. No one was around for all the milestones or important decisions that came my way as a child.

When my parents found out I had been put on probation, they flew back. The first thing my father did was to tell me, “I don’t have a son like you.”

He said he wanted to chase me out of the house and “publish in the newspapers” an advertisement telling the whole world just how much of a disgrace I was. In his eyes, I was a shameful stain to the family and his main consideration then was how to tell the relatives about my predicament.

It was a good thing my tagging only took place after Chinese New Year. He didn’t have to lose face in front of my relatives. And my mother? Well, she had pinned high hopes on me as her only son. She was heartbroken at how everything had turned out.

I decided that I had to walk a better path once I finished serving my probation.

My only experience of Church at the point of my release from probation had been my mum’s church. It was a very solemn one – an absolute nightmare for a kid with ADHD. Although I would nod my head in agreement to all I heard there, I had no idea what was going on.

Having gone back to school, I joined a few interest groups where I made friends with some good people from Touch Youth Services. One of them brought me to his Church.

So you can imagine the complete culture shock I had when I stepped into my friend’s Church. It was completely different – there was a band playing, there were flashing lights, people were jumping to the songs. It was wild!

I turned to my friend and yelled in his ear, “Eh! This one club ah?” He yelled back into mine, “No lah, not clubbing! This one much better than Zouk – best gift you can ever get! Think of this as … Heavenly clubbing!”

Another culture shock soon came my way, as the mood went from hype to holy. The people on stage were talking about how God had been good in their life. They were giving an altar call when suddenly, something hit me inside.

I heard an audible voice that spoke these words to me: “Chris, maybe you should go forward. Give your life to Me.”

And I had never heard that voice before. I didn’t know what was going on, so I asked my friend if he had called my name. He looked at me wide-eyed and shook his head because he hadn’t.

I heard an audible voice that spoke these words to me: “Chris, maybe you should go forward. Give your life to Me.”

But I was sure I had heard the voice.

“Eh, I think got ghost leh,” I said to him. “Holy Ghost!” my friend half-jokingly whispered. But then he turned and asked me seriously if I wanted to “give up everything” and respond to the altar call. I was still unsure. Give up everything?

At my hesitation, I felt a gentle tug at my heart. Just to me – just for me – the voice spoke again, audibly: “You have nothing to lose. Just take your first step, my son.”
And I just stood there dumbfounded, thinking, this voice has just called me his son. His son! Who are you…? Who are you?

The voice replied: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. The father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t understand any of it either, but awestruck, I told my friend all that I heard. My friend then showed me that those words spoken to me were verses from the Bible. They were the literal words of God.

It was then that I realised: I had just been properly introduced to the Most High God!

I responded to the altar call after that and never looked back.

Since then, God has been steadily working in my life. And when I pray, I still hear Him speak to me – just as audibly as He did that very first time at the altar call.
That’s grace for me. His voice has breathed new life into me.

Prompted by the Holy Ghost once more, I applied to become a social worker. Today, I work at Care Corner dealing with at-risk youths from broken families. It’s fulfilling work being able to give back. I never drag my feet to work because I was once in their position myself.

Now I look at them and I see a world that needs a helping hand. And I look at God who has brought me through a difficult life – knowing He is using me for something good.