Ah Keat came from a pretty well-to-do family. His father had his own business selling vegetables in a market and supported him with capital to run his own stall as well. Working in the marketplace led him to horse betting through the influence of his colleagues. After winning close to 30k from horse betting, he was hooked. After that, he often used money from his business as gambling capital and couldn’t stop until he lost all his winnings slowly.
“I won 200k but in 2-3 years I lost back about 2-300k. I lost slowly, bit by bit, so I really burnt my fingers.” Said Ah Keat.
His family eventually helped him to clear off his debts and he tried quitting. Unfortunately, he couldn’t shake the habit and turned to casino gambling thereafter. At that time, all that occupied his mind was gambling. Losses didn’t matter as long as he could find enough money to gamble again.
“…I left my business to my workers, I didn’t work. My whole mind was there (on gambling)… The consequences of gambling is when you win to a certain stage, you will forget the times when you lost. You will totally forget. When you don’t have money, the money from business will be directed to be gambling capital. You have already lost control.” He recounted.
The journey ahead for Ah Keat was going to be tough one. Relapsing again and again, he couldn’t quit gambling despite falling into crisis again and again. He even once went into hiding at Bedok Reservoir for 3 weeks after losing a huge sum. Ironically, his 10-month stint as a professional gambler in local casinos would eventually catalyze his transformation.
He recounted his losing streak in the casino, “My money was all lost. Whatever I betted on, across 10 rounds, I lost everything. …In a day I lost 300k across 6 rounds. That signalled the start of the nightmare.” His gambling debts snowballed to $75k with 76 licensed and unlicensed moneylenders (“Ah Longs”) breathing down his neck. His addiction worsened his relationship with his wife and family, but things started to look up when his elder brother brought him to Adullum.
Initially, he was skeptical of how the church could help him. “There’s no way out of this anymore. I didn’t believe the church’s Jesus could help me, because when I went to Tua Pek Kong, Guanyin, and all that, I felt that they couldn’t save me.”
His experience will soon prove him wrong. Mr Wong’s guidance as well as support and acceptance from the church community slowly helped him restore the broken shards lefts of his life. However, believing in Christ does not mean an instant resolution of his debts. The difference is in how he approaches his problems. While fear once dominated his heart, God-given peace and joy replaced it.
“Here, not only does Jesus save you, He also gives you a big bunch of people with you every week. Their mindset and actions influenced me and I have reminded not to gamble. From August last year (2012) till now, I have stopped gambling.” He said.
Listening to Ah Keat sharing his testimony in an Adullum support group sessions, it is apparent that the peace and conviction that he demonstrates could only be the work of God. Still in the process of paying off his debts, he works as a taxi driver currently and helps out at Adullum whenever he can.
Prayer is as indispensable to him as gambling was in the past. “Now my life is very simple, whatever things I have, I will tell him (God) in the morning and give thanks at night.”
The once hardcore gambler now lives a victorious life, triumphing over his addiction and debts with God’s continued providence and protection.