Assignment Out of Pain

Jeremy Chan and Janet Lee

A kingdom assignment birthed out of a painful experience for the couple Jeremy Chan and Janet Lee.  At one point in Jeremy’s life, he had even contemplated suicide. As Jeremy’s wife, Janet suffered the same, if not greater intensity of pain. Today, when you speak with the couple, you will sense a deep focus and commitment inside them to fulfil what God has assigned them to do. 

In late 2013, Jeremy’s mother fell ill suddenly with a rare blood cancer in the bone marrow. Jeremy became the caregiver to his mother. It was an intense experience, to say the least. Jeremy would visit his mother twice or three times in one day and besides extending care, he also cleaned up the mess at home, since his elderly father could not manage any housework. Jeremy’s emotional pain worsened when his mother’s condition took a turn for the worse the following year. She was hospitalised and she kept asking Jeremy, “Jerry, when can I go home?’”

“We tried all ways and means to bring her home even for a little while, but there was no good solution,” he said. There was little that could be done for her and palliative care was the only option. On Good Friday of 2014, she passed away. 

After her passing, over and above the guilt Jeremy was wrestling inside him, he battled with challenges in his marriage and his relationships at church. He shared that he and Janet would have arguments. Feeling very hurt and in pain inside, Jeremy went about his work and ministry in church in a “very robotic” way, as observed by Janet. Jeremy’s condition began to spiral down. It started with a slowing down of thoughts, emotions, and movements, then bouts of weeping, sleepless nights, and constant depressive thoughts. There were frequent emotional breakdowns. Jeremy was subsequently diagnosed to have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. He would later learn that people with mental health conditions have many ups and downs in the recovery process.

Confused and hurt, he got angry with God and questioned, “Why is this happening? Why isn’t healing happening?” And God said to him that he was to use his pain and suffering to help those suffering the same mental health issues.

Meanwhile, Janet was wrestling with her own emotions as Jeremy caved into his own pain, unable to interact much with her. Guilt gripped her, being unable to fulfil her role as a helper to Jeremy, during his caregiving time to his mother. Janet decided to start baking her husband’s favourite cookies and cakes and cooking his favourite dishes, to help give him sustenance in his recovery. When he could no longer read the Bible, she prayed. She kept urging him to carry on. Jeremy was thankful that this helped him. He confided that Janet was like a solid rock, a reminder that he needed to keep fighting. Janet made other adjustments such as stepping down from the worship ministry. Through it all, Janet ran to God and found comfort in Him.

The breakthrough came in 2016 when Jeremy received a constant immersion in the Word of God and the care of other Christians at Tung Ling School of Ministry. Two years later, both Jeremy and Janet enrolled in Tung Ling School of Leadership where they received confirmation of their assignments.  During Silence and Solitude, part of the School of Leadership programme, they both sought God as to where He would like them to serve Him.  It was nothing short of amazing that both received an almost identical vision where a boat is in it. While Jeremy’s was a speed boat, Janet’s was a slower boat that looked like a sampan. God assured Jeremy He would provide for them and He showed Janet that He hears the cry of His children who are suffering and need help. They are to help pick them up into their boat and help them journey through the storm.

With the empowerment received from God’s personal word to him, Jeremy has been moving on his kingdom assignment. Since 2019, God has been using his experience to help others recover from their mental health conditions. Janet has also clarified her own assignment: to give people a listening ear. Out of the pain involved in journeying with Jeremy, Janet has been “trained” to be a listener who listens and not prescribes. She has this advice to offer, “No advice. Don’t say, ‘I understand’. You cannot understand what they are going through.” This has also refined her to be a more patient person.

Holding onto Psalm 139:16, Jeremy is filled with gratitude towards God whom he says is in the centre of their lives and their marriage: “We don’t need to be afraid, don’t need to be concerned about what the future holds for usHe holds the future for us.” 

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. Psalm 139:16

Dear Archippus…

A personal word from God is an invitation for us to align with Him and not the other way around. A personal word is not there to serve a personal agenda, but to direct the person into a kingdom agenda. God spoke clearly to Jeremy and Janet and gave them a personal word. Out of their pain, they obeyed God and today they are bringing kingdom influence into their sphere of influence, reaching out to many for His glory! Yet, we know that it is not a bed of roses. We need empowerment that is beyond ourselves.

Henson writes in Alignment Check, “When moving on kingdom assignments, it is the personal word that empowers and strengthens you for what the Lord has assigned you to do.”

About Jeremy and Janet

Jeremy and Janet have been married for 20 years and are both retired. They love traveling and Japan is a favourite destination. Janet enjoys baking and cooking, Jeremy enjoys time go-karting.