I was a habitual gambler. I took stakes in stock market, indulged in mah-jong and gambled in casinos.

I relapsed three times and the consequences were:

• lost a 5-room HDB apartment in Potong Pasir. For playing in shares, I gambled heavily. My debts were in excess of S$100,000.

• lost the executive condominium in Yishun where I had been living for 6-7 years. With the hard cash of S$100,000 I again bought more shares.

• Then, I downgraded to a 5-room HDB after losing yet heavily in shares.

Through a span of over thirty years, I borrowed from my family, siblings, friends, banks and eventually loan sharks. I sold off properties bought in the resale market to pay the debts. My gambling habit caused so much misery to my family. They feared debt collectors hounding us, knocking on our door especially in the middle of night. For years there were sleepless nights. They suffered greatly because of me.

My husband and I were believers of Taoism for many years. He prayed for me to kick the habit and to change for good for years, yet to no avail.

I started getting involved in casino gambling. I joined a group of new friends who patronized the Resort World casino in Sentosa. I lost heavily, borrowing from licensed moneylenders to roll over. My debts increased very fast. My only thoughts had been to win. And with my winnings, I would repay. But instead, the more I gamble, the more I lost.

One day an illegal moneylender called me promising lower interest than the licensed moneylenders. I took the bait. That was the worst time in my life. I kept on rolling over my debts, even borrowing from banks, my family, siblings and friends

Finally, I had no choice but to confess about the loan shark problems to my family. My entire family was devastated and disappointed with me. My only daughter was so upset that she left for Melbourne to study without informing me and distanced from me. She wanted nothing to do with me. My husband and sons forgave me. My elder son checked online for help. He found a Christian help agency, One Hope Centre (OHC). In May 2013, we met a counsellor in OHC. I related everything to him.

Every Thursday and Saturday thereafter, I attended the support group sessions. I was taught how to engage and negotiate with the moneylenders.

My fears were very much reduced. The care, love and help of many brothers and sisters in OHC helped me tremendously. At the end of each session, the facilitator would pray for us.

It was in OHC that I first learned about Jesus Christ. I learned to pray to the Lord about my situation. I noticed that whatever I pray for, God answered and very fast too. My faith increased. My boss and colleagues were very helpful. The OHC counsellor was very caring and kind. He was walking alongside me on my journey with Christ and to recovery. Slowly, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour. I noted that I felt peace and joy, never before had.

I joined a senior brother to attend Bedok Methodist Church. The journey was long, taking as long as 2 hours one way. One day, I invited my eldest brother, whom we lost touch for some time because of my gambling habits, to hear my testimony in OHC. After that, he and his wife brought me to their church, Lighthouse Evangelism in Woodlands. He always fetched me to Lighthouse. I attended the Miracle Service and Sunday service.

I am very grateful to God for setting me free from my miseries, restoring my relationship with my family, my eldest brother and other siblings. There was tremendous joy and rejoicing when I was reconciled with my daughter who returned from her study. Unknown to me, she had been praying for my salvation and bondage to gambling addiction for some time. I was baptized on August 29, 2015. I received more joy when my husband also accepted Jesus as his Saviour on August 29, 2015 and my eldest son received salvation on March 25, 2016.

I am grateful to OHC, and to the brothers and sisters there, for guiding and helping me in my moments of deep distress. There were times when I felt that I was drowning under the weight of my burdens. I was encouraged to speak up, to release all pent up emotions. The counsellor was watching over me. Whenever I felt troubled, he would invite me to his office.
I thank God for sending helpful people to me. He is so merciful.

• I thank God that He kept my job safe for many others in the same situation were sacked or lost their jobs because the harassment impacted their performance in their workplace. My boss and colleagues were very understanding. I received a $100 increment.

• I received a legal letter from a bank threatening me with law suit if I did not settle a debt of $7,600. I approached my cousin for $3,000. He was very kind. He lent me the full sum of $7,600 to clear my debt after reading the letter. I was very touched by his kindness and generosity. I was wrong in not telling him that it was for gambling debt. His wife said something which kept going around in my mind. She said since I had tried all things, wouldn’t I try Jesus.

• I was declared a bankrupt on August 27, 2015, because my debt was too large.

• God answered my prayers for my eldest son’s business. It has picked up, and my youngest son found a job and is also taking up study after work.

All glory to our true and loving Lord Jesus and the highest God for all His blessings. Without God I would still be in the pit wallowing in the mud! I had quit gambling. No more going to casino. I cut off contacts with gambler friends. I must live righteously, be obedient to God and careful not to go back to my old habits. I hunger for God’s word and so started bible study. It has been in my heart to serve the Lord for what He has done for me and still doing. I am now serving in two ministries in Lighthouse, the usher ministry and praying for the needy and to pay forward what OHC had done for me, so I have participated in the support group of OHC. Through God’s grace, He sent me sponsor like my sister-in-law who generously bought me new outfits for my various duties.

I am grateful and thankful to the Founder of One Hope Centre which indeed saves a lot of souls including mine.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Before knowing Christ, I follow my desires wherever they led me and my lifestyles reflected this. When I repent and began to walk with Christ, my old habits and desires which once dominated me were gone.

I thank the Lord for the power of His death and resurrection. His victory over sin meant that I am forgiven and given a new life in Jesus. Amen!

God Bless OHC
Esther Lam