Meaning of Life

“Even caning did not change me”: Kim Meng’s journey to overcoming drug addiction

By Gracia Lee , 27 March 2022

When he was just 16, Wong Kim Meng – known by loved ones as Benji – joined a gang and fell into the dangerous snare of drugs.

He spent more than two decades wrestling with his addiction, going in and out of prison.

Kim Meng vowed to change his harmful lifestyle many times. But each time he found himself in the pit of failure, over and over again.

His family gave up on him, and eventually, he also gave up on himself.

However, after years of struggle, Kim Meng finally turned things around. But he didn’t do it on his own.

Now 55, clean, and working as a maintenance supervisor, Kim Meng shares his remarkable journey of finding true hope amid the darkest of days.

Kim Meng’s Story

Before I was 13, I fell into bad company and did a lot of nonsense like housebreaking and robbery. I was only 13 when I was first sent to a boy’s home.

When I was 16, I joined a gang and started to take sleeping pills. I thought it was nothing, so I moved on to taking heroin and ice. When I realised I was addicted, it was already too late to stop.

All my activities surrounded cigarettes, drugs, women and gambling. Every day, my life was in this same cycle. I just enjoyed my life.

When I couldn’t find drugs, I would suffer from withdrawal symptoms. To buy more drugs, I would rob people and steal.

I ended up in prison 10 times for drug-related offences – 24 years and 23 strokes in total. In the beginning I thought this is my bad lot in life. In Chinese, we say 命中注定 (it’s fated). 

Breaking mum’s heart

In 2006, when my mum came to visit me in jail, she looked very sad.

The taxi driver had told her: “Drug addicts forever will never change. They will either die inside the prison, or die outside.”

She told me that when she was on her way to the prison, the taxi driver had told her: “Drug addicts forever will never change. They will either die inside the prison, or die outside.”

In my heart, I knew that it was true. I saw so many of my friends either die inside or die outside of the prison. I didn’t know how to answer my mum.

“Eh sai bo?”

During one chapel service in prison, they were reading John 11:40. It says: “Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’”

When I heard it, my heart for some reason suddenly had peace. The pastor looked and me and asked me: “Do you believe?”

He also told me that God has the power to bring the dead to life. I wanted to try, so I accepted Jesus.

I wrote to my mum: “Mum, there is a hope. It is Jesus.” She was not a Christian then, so she said: “Eh sai bo? (Are you sure?)”

The same cycle again

After I believed in Jesus, I studied the Bible for three years in prison. I thought I was very stable and in a good place.

My teacher told me that after I’m released, I should go to a halfway house. But I didn’t want to. I was quite proud. In prison, I shared in my testimony that I won’t be coming back again.

Unfortunately, my life didn’t change when I was released. I still persisted in going my own way. I fell again and returned to drugs.

I told myself: “Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.” But tomorrow never came.

I was disappointed with myself. I told myself that I didn’t want to be a Christian anymore. I also felt like I couldn’t go back into the prison because people would laugh at me.

A voice at the ledge

I thought it would be better to end my life.

That day, I took almost 100 sleeping pills. My mind was in a fog. I went up to the 10th storey and stood on the ledge, thinking that I wanted to die.

Suddenly, there was a voice that simply called out: “Mother.” I woke up from my mind fog and was shocked to find myself standing on the ledge of a building. I immediately came down.

When I went home, I thanked Jesus for saving me. I said: “Thank You for pulling me back from the darkness.”

I told myself that I wanted to quit drugs for good and surrender my life to God. But two hours later, the withdrawal symptoms came back and I forgot everything.

I told myself: “Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.”

But tomorrow never came.

Finally surrendering to change

I went back to prison again for a drug trafficking offence. According to the law, my sentence would be at least 15 years and 15 strokes because it was my third trafficking offence.

I was so scared. I didn’t know if I could last 15 more years in jail or endure another 15 strokes. I prayed every day. I asked my lawyer to ask for less than 10 years. He said I was crazy.

“I believe God will change my life. I believe when God says even the dead can come to life again.”

But my pastor and those around me encouraged me not to give up. They said that God will always be there to welcome me back into His arms if I want to go back. So I prayed and prayed.

Thank God. I was diagnosed with depression and I was sentenced to nine and a half years. It was a miracle.

When I went back to prison, I told myself again that I want to change my life and follow God. I chose to go to a halfway house upon my release. But inside prison all my friends said: “Le siao liao! (You’re crazy!)”

I told them: “No, I believe God will change my life. I see some of them can change. Why I cannot? I believe when God says even the dead can come to life again. So why I cannot?”

Making things right

When I was released in 2017, I joined The New Charis Mission. They have been my family. They taught me to follow Jesus and helped me to build up my faith and restore my life. 

Benji with his spiritual brothers from The New Charis Mission.

Isaiah 45:22 says:

“Turn to me and be saved,
    all you ends of the earth;
    for I am God, and there is no other.”

I believe no drug rehab programme could change me. Even caning did not change me.

Only Jesus can change me. And he did.

Seeing the change in my life, my family has accepted me again. They are all very happy.

Benji with his wife, Amanda (left), and his parents.

Seeing is believing

My mum and dad also decided to believe in Jesus, even though they used to oppose Christianity in the past. I asked them why they believe and they simply pointed to me.

They said: “Because your life has really turned around completely. You stopped smoking, gambling, drinking alcohol, taking drugs. We never thought there would be such a day.”

In June 2021, I got married to my wife, Amanda.

When I came out of prison, I only had $300 in my bank. I did not know how I would have the money to get married. 

My pastor told me that I cannot borrow money from the ah long (illegal money lender) like I usually do. I can trust God to provide for me. So I prayed and prayed.

And praise God! He really provided everything, from my buffet to our clothing to our honeymoon. Everything was sponsored by our friends and family. 

God provided all that Benji and Amanda needed for their wedding last June.

Are you looking for true hope?

Without God, all this is not possible. Without God, I wouldn’t be here today. God has really transformed my life, and I believe that He can also transform you.

He really loves you. He always says: “I’ll never give up on you.”

No matter how much wrong you have done or how many times you have failed, God is always faithful. He will always wait for you to turn back to Him.

He really loves you. He always says: “I’ll never give up on you.”

If we believe in Jesus, the Bible says that we are a new creation. The old has passed away and everything has been made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

So, like the Nike logo says, just do it. Just trust Him.

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