One Sunday afternoon after church, I received an urgent phone call from a 60-year-old lady from my church.
“Please come over my home,” she pleaded. “My husband, Thomas (not real name), has been lying motionless on the floor since I left for church this morning, and I don’t know what to do.”
Thomas had been a long-term alcoholic, but because of the length of time he had been lying on the floor, she did not know whether he was drunk, or whether he had had a stroke.
I rushed over to her home, and indeed saw Thomas lying by his side across the living room floor.
Prior to this, I had never met Thomas, as he was not attending church.
He did not seem conscious when I stood in front of him, but to my surprise, he suddenly sat up, and asked, “Who are you?”
At this point, I became slightly concerned about my personal safety. Although Thomas was in his 60s, his body was well-toned and not flabby, suggesting to me that he would not be easy to deal with, if aggravated. Besides, his breath reeked of alcohol.
Nonetheless, I calmly explained that I was from the same church as his wife, and on his wife’s request, had come to check whether he needed medical attention.
He seemed pleased to learn that I was from church, and got up, and set on the sofa, and gestured that I should sit next to him.
Thomas was open about his life, about his chequered past (he had been a former gangster), about his present job, and about his beliefs in God. On the latter, he shared that he once attended a church in the east of Singapore a number of years ago, but had dropped out.
I had another appointment to attend latter that day, so, I told Thomas that I needed to cut short our chat, but promised to return another day.
Before leaving, I told Thomas that I would like to pray for him, and he consented. To my surprise, however, he stretched out both hands to reach mine. I am not accustomed to holding other peoples hand while praying, nonetheless, I did not want to offend Thomas, so I continued to lead a prayer, while we held hands. I prayed that Thomas would be set free from his addiction to alcohol — a bondage that had started since his teenage years.
And with that, I left his house.
However, as I was walking home, I noticed myself thinking rather unusual thoughts. Specifically, I felt tempted to drink alcohol, which was strange to me, because I have never been given to drink (for the record, I do accept wine or beer occasionally when offered during office or family celebrations, but it has never been a temptation for me).
Had demonic spirits been transferred from Thomas to me unwittingly while we held hands when I prayed for him? I was not sure, but did not want to take any chances, so, as I was walking, I prayed aloud silently and pleaded the blood of Jesus, as well as commanded all spirits of alcohol addiction to leave me.
When I told Thomas that I would visit him again, I meant that I would return a few months later. I reasoned that I needed to pray for Thomas daily for a couple of months before seeing him again, in order to help him overcome his alcohol addiction. After all, Thomas had been a long-term alcoholic, and I did not think that his bondage to alcohol could be overcome easily, but would require a lengthy time of prayer and intercession.
So, I prayed for Thomas daily, even while I was on an overseas holiday, about two-weeks after I first met Thomas.
While on holiday, I had the impression that I should buy a packet of local delicacies, so that I could present it to Thomas and his wife when I next visited them.
The following Sunday after returning to Singapore from holiday, I had a strong “prompting” that I was to pay Thomas and his wife a visit at their home.
For a few hours that Sunday, I resisted the idea, since in my human reasoning, Thomas needed to be prayed for a lot longer before he could be set free from alcoholism, However, I could not get the “prompting” out of my heart. Sensing it was the will of God, I finally obeyed and called Thomas’ wife to tell her that I would like to drop by to bless the couple with some local delicacies that I had purchased while on holiday.
When I entered her home, I was stunned to see Thomas neatly groomed, and nothing like the dishevelled man I had met three weeks ago.
Thomas surprised me further by telling me that he had attended the services at my church, and had enjoyed my senior pastor’s preaching.
And in an “by-the-way” manner, Thomas told me that he had been set free from his alcohol addiction, and no longer desired alcohol.
I worship at a mega-church, and unless I specially arrange to meet up with a church friend, I don’t usually run into them.
Anyway, I ran into Thomas recently, and when I saw him, he told me that he was very happy to see me, as he had hoped that God would make our paths cross.
I was also very happy to see Thomas, and above all, the change that I could see in his life.
It was evident to me that Thomas had truly been born again.