Sharing from Anne Wong-Png - KG's involvement in Family Inclusion Network.
Good morning family and friends of brother Koh Gay,
I met KG sometime 2nd quarter of 2011 when he responded to FIN’s call for volunteers. Family Inclusion Network - FIN in short, was founded by Gerald & I with a group of passionate believers, comprising families and volunteers who desires to see the inclusion of children and persons with special needs in our church and the larger community.
I enlisted Koh Gay right away to work alongside us on the launch of FIN at COOS as I sensed in this forthcoming and well-spoken intellect, a great passion for our cause! Koh Gay was totally focused on his task from the start and constantly challenged me (sometimes cornering me!) to think beyond my boundaries. Yet, his gentle and caring side was evidenced when he bonded with our young persons with different abilities. He was candid and would share his personal challenges with them. My daughter, Cheryl and her friends called him “Gor Gor” Koh Gay.
We worked well together as we share the same passion for the inclusion and support for families with special needs and, we are both nocturnal (which I learned later that he suffered from insomnia). We spent many nights through the morning hours on the phone and email; sharing and editing transcripts in preparation for the launch of FIN.
It was during such time that he confided in me about his mental illness. I was privileged to get a little glimpse into his private world. It was a breakthrough I thought, when he decided to step out in boldness and share his personal battle with mental illness to encourage the church community.
Here is the transcript of my interview with KG on 10 Sep 2011 that spoke volumes of this brother, 6 years on. These are in his own words …
Chang Koh Gay, volunteer of FIN sharing his personal story @ the Launch of FIN
Time: 3.30pm service at the auditorium, Church of Our Saviour
I am an individual with dyslexia and psychosis.
In terms of dyslexia, a language learning difficulty, I experience difficulty with
pronouncing and spelling words. I experience difficulty with spatial orientation
In terms of the psychosis, a mental illness, I experience audible hallucinations,
an add-on behaviour - a positive symptom. I experience blunted interest to
socialize, this is negative symptom. I also experience anxiety attacks.
I am under medication; however psychotropic drugs have major side-effects.
For instance, I experience bone density loss and insomnia.
I journeyed from acute psychosis to stability, with treatment from a Christian
psychiatrist. He informed me that I have GOD in my life. He informed me a
positive trait for recovery was my cognitive strength. He has since become a
friend. I also received prayer and counselling from Pastor Daren Tay @ COOS.
Alvin, one of my best friends, bore risks and responsibilities by getting me a
position with Eagles Communications. He supported me emotionally and also
pledged towards my salary at Eagles. Truly, Alvin is a brother birthed from
Kok Liang, an elder of my former church and mentor, bore risks and
responsibilities by giving me a position at ComServ; he was the Technical
Director. I started as a programmer. He promoted me to software engineer
within a year to service a call accounting package at the front-end of the
business. Truly, Kok Liang is another brother birthed from adversity.
(Koh Gay’s favourite scripture for the season - Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at
all times. And a brother is born for adversity.)
My mother, a single parent, never abandoned me – my bedrock in the midst
of the raging storms. Truly, parental love is rock solid!
I do place absurd demands upon my family and friends, but they have never
abandoned me. They are willing to journey with me through the various
seasons of my life by bearing risks and responsibilities, and brotherhood.
I am a recipient of love, mercy and grace. I am learning to pay it forward. As Prue, an Aussie friend informs, “What goes around, comes around.”
However, it can be a struggle to gain societal acceptance as an individual with mental illness …
*Koh Gay remained positive, grateful, gracious and passionate despite all his challenges through the years. His family and friends were treasures to him and God was His refuge. He stayed authentic, true to himself and others till the end.
In closing, on behalf of FIN and the many families whom KG had cared for and his passionate advocacy for Inclusion with FIN, we honour our brother, Koh Gay. While we grief our loss, we find comfort in knowing that we have in fact been enriched and gained much in the lifetime of this dear brother!
Psalm 4:8 ~ “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone O Lord, will keep me safe.”
October 4, 2017