Ashley Tan, 23, and Jewel Chang, 23, first met at their polytechnic orientation. The two girls hit it off immediately and later found out that they would be classmates.
While Ashley had not intended to reach out to Jewel as she was afraid to seem pushy to someone she had just met, this friendship was the start of a journey that would eventually see Jewel coming to know Christ.
Planting the seed: A mum and daughter’s partnership in evangelism
Ashley’s mum, Candy Ng, played a part too. She had just given birth to her third child when Ashley brought Jewel over to visit.
“I remember asking Jewel if she had attended a church service before,” Candy said. “She told me that she used to attend Sunday school when she was in primary school but didn’t continue after that.”
“I had compassion for her because the seed of faith was planted in her when she was young – I must try my best to bring her back to the Lord,” she continued.
“Moreover, she was one of my daughter’s closest friends in the polytechnic that time.”
As the two friends grew closer, Ashley started to learn that Jewel was going through some family issues. That was when she started to reach out to Jewel.
“Jewel means a lot to me, and I saw a gap that I knew could only be filled by God. However, I knew it might not be easy for her to see her need for a Saviour,” Ashley recollected.
Under her mum’s encouragement, Ashley would frequently invite Jewel to church events.
Because of her open-mindedness and relationship with Ashley, Jewel was receptive to these invitations.
She would regularly attend Christmas and other church services, and was also present for Ashley’s water baptism.
Jewel also felt loved when Ashley and Candy initiated prayers over her.
“I knew they were coming from a place of love because of the way they both prayed for me on multiple occasions.”
However, as much as she was open to hearing Ashley share her beliefs, Jewel still wasn’t ready to become a Christian.
In fact, Jewel wanted to apply the teachings she learnt in church without acknowledging God and described herself as “truly unbelieving”.
Candy agreed. She remembered how Jewel would only smile and nod whenever she tried to share more about the faith.
“I know that she was trying to be polite though in her heart she was quite resistant,” she said with a laugh. “I know that her heart was not opened for Jesus yet.”
And so mother and daughter continued to journey with Jewel anyway.
Said Ashley: “Sometimes I felt a little disappointed and questioned God about when He would reveal Himself to Jewel, and when she would be ready for Him.”
“But at least I could make an effort to extend invitations to church and pray that God touches her heart someday.”
Watering the seed: A medical miracle that changed things
Unbeknown to Ashley, God was quietly working behind the scenes.
After graduating from polytechnic, Ashley and Jewel lost touch for a bit as life took them on different paths.
In 2019, Jewel’s parents divorced and she subsequently contracted a strange bout of hives that would recur frequently.
For the next two years, she tried many alternative medicines but to no avail.
“At this point, I felt like I was a living zombie – just eating to get by. I was frustrated and tired of life. I didn’t know what I was living for either,” she revealed.
At the lowest point, Jewel met a Christian lady at a dinner outing with her mum.
Releasing a prophetic word, she told Jewel that the hives were a physical manifestation of the repressed negative emotions she had towards her parents’ divorce.
“Honestly at the time, I was thinking what nonsense this is,” Jewel confessed. “But at the same time, I found myself crying uncontrollably.
“And I realised that I had hidden and suppressed all the hurt inside of me regardless of whether I believed what she said was true or not.”
When this lady went on to pray over her, she immediately felt so much warmth and love that she started wondering if Jesus was real.
The lady then encouraged Jewel to pray and ask God to show her.
“Although I didn’t fully believe in God, I was willing to try,” Jewel shared. “I had no other option. I told myself: ‘If He really is real and He heals me, then I’ll believe.’”
After returning home, she also wrote a letter to God to ask Him for help to forgive her family and strength to let go of all the pain.
Sure enough, she started healing from her hives within a week or two. By a month, her hives completely disappeared.
Jewel also saw how God answered and resolved her other problems when she prayed about them.
Gradually, she came to recognise that God is real and accepted Him into her life.
Growing the seed: All in God’s time
Looking back at her journey, Jewel appreciates the people God had put in her path to bring her closer to Him.
“God never gives up on us. Even if we continue to resist Him, He will always try to reach us through different people, different circumstances and different places,” Jewel reflected.
“I feel blessed knowing that He has always loved me and wanted me to know him personally so I can receive all his love and goodness.”
Jewel also expressed that Ashley’s family played a big part in guiding her to God.
“When I eventually turned to God, I realised that all the prayers and the times I spent with Ashley’s family slowly softened my heart no matter how insignificant it seemed initially.”
“The beauty that I saw in their family – the gentleness, joy, peace and such love for Christ – was what attracted me to knowing more about their faith.”
This journey did not just transform Jewel’s life.
Ashley, too, was impacted by what God did in her friend’s life.
“I used to be wary of friendship evangelism as I didn’t want my friends to think I was befriending them for the sake of the gospel,” Ashley admitted.
“However, I’ve learnt that if you really stick by your relationship with God and live out your transformation, Christlikeness can flow through you naturally, and those around you will realise it.”
Ashley’s mum Candy affirmed: “I have this belief that the people who come into our life are not by coincidence. God put people into our lives so that we can evangelise to them.
“We should take every opportunity to witness to them about Jesus. Pray for them whenever the opportunity comes.”
She also pointed out that at the core of it, evangelising is about showing love.
“We don’t even need to quote Bible verses to non-believers when we are evangelising,” she elaborated. “It is important that we remain friendly, sincere and helpful, be patient and have a listening ear.”
“Keep the person you are reaching out in prayer, find out how they are doing if possible, stay in touch with them.”
For those who might feel disheartened by the lack of reciprocity, Ashley encouraged: “Reaching out to those around you might feel like a difficult task, and you might not even be able to imagine how they could possibly come to accept Christ.
“Thankfully, the power to make them believe does not belong to you — it is the Lord’s.”
What we can do however is to strive to emulate Christ, extend casual invites, pray and leave the rest to God’s perfect will and timing, Ashley suggested.
Agreeing with her, Candy concluded: “Never give up evangelising to the people around us. It is in God’s timing that the seed of faith will grow.”
- When was the last time you shared the gospel?
- What are some challenges you face in living out the Great Commission?
- Who is someone in your life you can share the love of Jesus with? Commit to praying for them and reaching them.