I was a habitual gambler since I was a teenager. At first, it was just mah jong games between friends and classmates during festive seasons and holidays. Then when I started working, I had weekly card game sessions with friends. These games involved sums that could be as large as my monthly salary or at times even a multiple of my month’s salary. But whether it was luck, or my skill, I was usually the winner. I began to be nonchalant about the risks of gambling.
Then I started to dabble in stocks. It was my interest in finance that led me to study Economics and I was keenly interested in stocks and financial futures even when I was a student. I remember during my first year in Varsity, it was the 1986 recession in Singapore and the stock market dived. At that time, few of my peers even knew about stocks but I invested all my savings in a unit trust. I also invested in a gold savings account at a local bank.
I made a bit of money in my unit trust and when I graduated, it was the time of the first Iraq war, in 1990. I used my savings to invest in shares before the war was declared. I more than doubled my money in a few weeks when the war started and the American-led allied army defeated Saddam Hussein’s army in days, leading to a rally in the stock markets everywhere. I was hooked.
From then on, till 2012 I was into contra trading in stocks. I lost a fortune, borrowed from friends and relatives, even lied to my wife that I would help her invest her savings, borrowed from banks till they sent demand letters, until I had to sell my flat to repay my debts, and yet, I did not stop. After my flat was sold, I had to stay in my parents’ flat. I asked my wife to go back to her parents’ place in China to stay for a couple of years while we wait for a new flat. I told her I would not gamble again and would work hard to repair the family finances. I did not succeed.
I went back to gambling in stocks again. Only this time, since my credit standing with banks was destroyed, I borrowed from licensed and unlicensed money-lenders when I inevitably lost. And I owed a lot of money, which had spun out of control with the exorbitant interest rates charged by these people. When my wife found out that I had relapsed into gambling in stocks again, she was devastated. She had lost all hope in me. She wanted to commit suicide.
It was the grace of God which led me to One Hope. A dear, close relative who had helped me many times before suggested that I seek help. I promised my wife that I will change and we decided to come to One Hope. Before our first session we were at a loss as we did not know if One Hope could help us. Through the group sessions and personal counselling, I discovered not only my resolve not to gamble, but also mended my personal relationship with God. I was a back-slided Christian and I had now come back to God. And God had given me an understanding and wonderfully supportive wife, who had stood by me even when we had to sell our flat, even when she knew that we would be spending the next 10 years repaying our debts. I trust that I will never again let God down, my wife and my family.
At present, I am serving as a volunteer in One Hope Center and as I help others, it helps me even more as it reminds me of the mistakes that I have made. The love of God and His grace shown to me, my wife’s love and support, and the encouragement given to me by the counsellors and brothers and sisters of One Hope Center is what keeps me away from gambling .