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“So what if I die? I’m not really dead”: Chew Chor Meng on his muscular atrophy diagnosis

By Rafael Chew Chor Meng , 15 July 2020

During 2006-2008, I felt like I had no strength. I couldn’t even carry things. Even if I was sitting on a chair, I would have difficulty getting up. 

Until 2008, when my colleague shared the Good News with me. I was very touched and decided to go to church. 

Before I stepped into the church, I told myself to be gung-ho and not cry. But once they sang the worship song, “then sings my soul…”, my soul started crying as well. I felt very joyful and renewed.

On that night, August 30, 2008, I accepted Christ.

Then I asked God: “Jesus, if You are real, tell me what happened to me?”

The next day, I followed my wife to church. Coincidentally, I met a pain care specialist who checked my body and told me that I might have muscular atrophy. He said that my muscles would progressively deteriorate and I would die in 18-24 months. 

He recommended that I get another opinion. The second doctor checked, and checked, and checked. Then he shook his head. 

He said: “I feel sad, Mr Chew. God gave me the anointing to be a doctor, but I cannot heal your sickness. You have a terminal illness.”

Within 18-24 months, I would be gone.

I thought to myself: “God, it took me 40 years to know you. But the day I know you, I have to see you.”

I refused to accept the diagnosis and decided to look for Singapore’s most famous doctor.

But before I went to see the doctor, I went to a toilet cubicle, and I prayed and cried. 

God is so good.

From the time when I first accepted Christ to my third doctor’s appointment, I had only been reading Psalm 23 and Isaiah 53, and I was claiming God’s promises to be healed in the name of Jesus. 

Somehow, God led me to read about the book of Job. Despite all the tragedy that Job went through, he still trusted in God. I saw how Job completely submitted to God, and I told myself that I had to submit to Him completely too.

So what if I die? I’m not really dead. I’ll just go up to heaven and join Star Search or Star Awards. Whatever it is, I said: “God, I’ll trust in You. If I really go to heaven, take care of my wife, my daughters and my mum. That’s it. I’ll join you lah.”

Doctors gave Chew Chor Meng 18 months to live. It has now been 12 years

But when I finally went to see the third doctor, he suddenly told me: “Chor Meng, even though you have muscular atrophy, you won’t die because of this sickness. You’ll still live maybe another five, 10, 15, 20, 25 years – I don’t know. But you won’t die because of this sickness.

“Of course, you’ll have to make some adjustments in your lifestyle. Maybe in three years’ time, you’ll need a walking stick. Five years later, crutches. Seven, eight years, you’ll need to sit on a wheelchair.”

It has been 12 years. I thank God that I can still drive and walk, although I’m very very slow. 

God is really good to me.

He really prepared me. Before I knew about my sickness, I knew God. Once I knew Him, I had peace.

Even when I encounter storms in my life, I know that God is with me. Jesus is in the same boat with me. So if Jesus is with me, what should I be scared of?

Every day when I walk, I’ll sometimes feel some weakness in my legs. But I’ll just lay my hand on my legs and pray and talk to God: “God, give me the strength. I need to walk. I need to do filming. Not for myself, but because I want to glorify Your name. Most importantly, I want to share the gospel.”

The Good News gives hope. Only Jesus can give hope. Because of Jesus, everything will turn out good.

Why do I call myself Rafael? Because Rafael means “God has healed”. In medical terms, I was diagnosed with muscular atrophy. But in Christ I’m healed.


This article is adapted from an interview with Chew Chor Meng. It was first published on Thir.st

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