Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Having it all is not enough

Romans 1:16

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

A wonderful testimony of SingaporeTV artiste, Jacelyn Tay.

Jacelyn Tay entered the 4th bi-annual Star Search Competition organised by MediaCorp while in her freshman year at National University of Singapore in 1995, and won the female category of the competition and the top prize of an acting contract. Her big break came when she played He Xiangu in the Singapore TV series "Legends of the Eight Immortals" in 1998. Thereafter she acted in various roles ranging from girl-in-next-door, to a member of a hotel staff to a psychiatrist. Tay's screen performances in period dramas were so well-received that she won the coveted award of Taiwan's Most Popular MediaCorp Female Artiste in Star Awards 1999. She also performed theme songs and intermediary songs for several drama serials and released a compilation album with Mediacorp Music.

When it seemed that her success had no bounds, a twist of fate took away almost all that she had worked for. She was forced to declare bankruptcy after owing $300,000 to a stockbroking firm. This event tarnished her image and made many sponsors shy away from her. Instead of letting this get the better of her, she worked hard to put her finances back in order. she then went on to produce a magazine show, write 2 books an hosted a health and beauty show entitled A New You in 2005.

In 2006, she became the founder & current chief executive of The Health Club, a medical spa that holds the vision of restoring the body's natural ability to heal itself and bringing health to greater heights. She is presently studying to become a nutritionist.

You were rising in your career when you
became a Christian. What led you to
consider Jesus Christ?

Before I knew God, I only believed in myself. I believed that all gods were the same. Handling pressure was basically part and parcel of life.

I am a very strong person. I thought I didn't need God and I could survive very well. A lot of people think that somebody becomes a Christian because he is weak or has problems. In my case I found God when everything was going well. My career was fine. My relationships were fine, but there was still an emptiness in my heart which I didn't understand. I was actually pretty lost when I had everything.

At that time I was actually a staunch Buddhist. I had my 'Fai Ming' (a Dharma name acquired during a Buddhist refuge ceremony, traditionally given by a high ranking Buddhist monk.) and the black and yellow-coloured robes. I was 'baptised' into Buddhism. I even prayed in the Japanese temple. I also believed in Feng Shui.

You would think I had no need for all that since I was doing well. But as a celebrity, you depend on so called luck. When you have fame, you have money, but you are also afraid of losing what fame you have. How do get fame? Hard work alone is not enough. It's by luck. You are dependent on luck, so you pray to all the gods, in the hope of becoming popular and famous.

"...I found God when everything was going well...... but there was still an emptiness in my heart which I didn't understand. I was actually pretty lost when I had everything."

In January 2006. I was injured during a Renci Charity show. I took that opportunity to speak up for the performers. We should not have to do dangerous stunts to get the funds or donations. There are better ways to raise funds.

As I was recovering at home I received a letter from a lady, who wrote that she had a dream of me. She said she was not a fan, but on her 57th birthday, she dreamt of me. In her dream, her husband tapped her on the shoulder during the altar call in church and asked her to pray for the person in front of her. Since she didn't know who that person was, she was a bit shy. After she woke up.. It was about 3 am. She felt very guilty that she hadn't prayed, so she asked God to reveal who the person was and what to pray for. When she went back to sleep she saw my face! She began praying for me and continued to do so until the day that she wrote the letter. But to me, she sounded like another preacher and I threw the letter away.

After that, I kept meeting people telling me about God. The first one was my friend Ricky. I asked him, "So, you are a Christian? But why? Why do you believe that there is only one Almighty God? He explained to me and somehow I could understand it; I could accept it as logical. From then on, God brought many people to me. Everyday I would meet people telling me about God.

It also happened that the father of the chiropractor who treated me was a retired Bishop worshipping at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, which is my church now. I wanted to go there to challenge him. I wrote a long list of questions and told my chiropractor, "I am going to ask your father questions and see whether he can answer me." I went to church not looking for God. I am quite stubborn. When everybody was standing up, and instead, remained seated and disrespectful. I took the Bible from the pew and it opened to Revelation chapter 12 about the woman and the dragon. I suddenly realized I had dreamt about that before, even though I had never read the Bible. How could it be?

In my dream, Revelation chapter 112 was actually in three parts. I dreamt of the first part one night, and two weeks later the second part,, then three weeks later the third part. that is not normal! In my dream I was chased by the dragon. As I read Revelation 12, I realized the scenario was similar to my dream. It was impossible. There must be God. How could I have dreamt of something in the Bible that I had never read before? That was 19th February 2006.

That night the retired Bishop led a prayer, saying, "If you decide to receive the Holy Spirit and accept Jesus Christ, then you should say these words."

In my heart I said, "Okay, I don't want to decide now." But after I went back home, I thought about it and was convinced there must be a God. So I said the sinner's prayer.

What is the biggest change in your life since you became a Christian?

The biggest change is that God is above everything. So, in my life, God is the most important. God is more important than my mother, and even my future husband or anybody else, anything on earth. God is number one. This is my choice. I choose to commit and be faithful to God because He is really faithful to me. He has been really good to me. Good as in, I have gone through rough patches, but it always turns out to be good. Those rough patches are for me to learn. When something bad happens I know it is another test. It is to sharpen my character. So I don't see bad things as bad things any more. Before I knew God, I was actually very lost. You don't know why you are here. You do everything and everything is meaningless. but since I came to know God, I know why I am here and I know everything is meaningful. Even when I just bump into somebody, I know it is not by coincidence. It must be God's arrangement. So, I am always looking forward to each new day.

"God is number one. This is my choice. I choose to commit and be faithful to God because He is really faithful to me."

How did you overcome the objections you have to face over your conversion?

My mum is now a Christian. But I wanted to get baptised in April, which was two months after I receive Christ, she objected. Everyday she would call me, cry and threaten me, saying that I was not filial, that I was deserting her, since I was not going to pray to her after she died. She didn't want me to get baptised, and forced me to speak to a monk, saying, "You must speak to Shifu(Master). If you want to be a Christian, that 's fine, but you cannot be baptised."

I replied, "If you want me to speak to Shifu, I shall. But if he cannot answer some of my questions, then I'll go ahead and get baptised."

The monk called me and said, "Christianity is actually something lower than Buddhism." He believes in the wheel of reincarnation. The six levels of the wheel of reincarnation are: hell, all the lost souls, the animals, human, deity and the Buddha. You have to work hard for millions of years. For instance, if you are a pig, then in the next life you become a human, and then in the next life you become something else.

I replied, "Okay, as Buddhist, I have to work very hard. I have to do good so that I can earn the points in my report card, hoping that my next life i may be able to become a Buddha. And then as a Buddha, I have to work some more because I want to go to the world of nothingness' - Nirvana. If that is the case, who decides what I have done so wrong? Who decides my first life? What did I do to come into this world? Where do I come from?" He answered, "From the world of nothingness." But if I come from nothing, which is the ideal state, what wrong did I do to fall into this wheel of reincarnation? He could not answer me. So, everything is meaningless. I came from nothingness and I have to work so hard to go back to the world og nothingness. Because he couldn't answer me, he told my mum to let me become a Christian.

The night before I got Baptised, my mum was still crying and threatening me. Although the monk had said "Let her go", I think she was controlled by some satanic force. She was like two totally different persons. My mum has never been an aggressive person but during that period she was not being herself. It's a little strange. My sister who has been a Christian for the past 20 years advised, :"Don't listen to the devil, just go ahead. It will be fine." So I went ahead. After I was baptised, she became normal again.

How did undergoing the financial troubles strenghten you as a person? What helps you face the inevitable ups and downs of being an entrepreneur?

I have gone from 'plus' to 'zero' to 'minus'. When I was a 'plus', I experienced the life of a 'plus'; I was 19 and had more than 100 thousand dollars. Suddenly I was popular. And then after that, I became a 'minus'. I owed people money. And I realised I could still survive as a 'minus'. So, what else was there that I couldn't do? What actually strengthen me was that I didn't think was anything that was impossible, as long as you are positive.

But that philosophy was before I became a Christian. That is why I told you I didn't believe in anybody else but myself, my own strength. Now when I think about it, I thank God. By my strength., I actually climbed from 'minus' to 'plus' but I was still lost. Everything was still meaningless without God. I used to say, "If you have money, if you don't have money, it's still the same. You don't know why you are here and where you are going."

How do you face challenges in the marketplace, for example, deciding on what type of products to sell as the competition involved in it?

When I first thought of opening the health club, it was supposed to be just a slimming centre. My father died a sudden death in 2004. But two weeks before his death I had a dream that he was going to die. I told my mum and so she prayed and got him to drink burnt talismans, but he still died. The death certificate stated that he had died of heart disease. That prognosis is so general and I couldn't understand it. I started to study more about heart disease, wanting to know why my father had died so suddenly.

I met a Chinese physician when I was in the process of opening a slimming centre. He was actually treating a lot of stroke patients and those with cholesterol problems. I found out that actually heart disease can be prevented and there are good Chinese herbs that can help. I wanted to help people to have healthier bodies and help those who are very depressed about their figures. They needed some counselling. So I decided to incorporate this into a health club.

When I started the health club I wasn't a Christian yet. After I became a Christian I changed my plans because God gave me new direction. In the marketplace, everybody just wants to make a sale. It is not easy to train the staff to sell something that people need and not sell things that people don't need. It is still a challenge now. Whenever there are new staff members, we have to retrain them.

The way I do business, I am not answerable to people, but I am answerable to God. I always tell my staff that if they don't care for their customers, if after selling them something they just say 'bye', then God will not bless them. That is something that they probably don't understand right now. They don't care if God will not bless them, but they care whether I will fire them!

What advice do you have for people considering becoming entrepreneurs?

From a business point of view, I could give you alot of answers but because I presume I am talking to Christians, I would tell you to do whatever God palns for you to do. Some people do business and succeed, but some people fail because God never intended for them to be entrepreneurs. For some people it is clear that God planned for them to be entrepreneurs. I have no answer to that. Only God knows. He will provide all the resources for whatever He wants us to do. Just to give an example of myself, I am not a doctor. I am not yet a nutritionist. I don't even have a degree but I have opened a clinic with two physicians, two dieticians, two Chinese medicine physicians, a microscopist and several therapists. God provided all these people. How do I get all the herbs? you know our herbs are not all Chinese herbs. We have other herbs from elsewhere. God enabled me to meet the right persons, so that I could find out which herbs cures what. I have faith that it will just happen. If God asks me one day to close the Health Club down, I will close it. I just want to do what God wants me to do.

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