I first met Joe in 1995 when I was the Media Officer with the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM). Two individuals who had guided and encouraged me in my infancy days in FAM were Joe, who was the Sports Editor of Utusan Malaysia,and Vijesh Rai, a senior sports journalist at that time with the New Straits Tines Press. They taught me the intricacies in dealing with the local and foreign media and also corrected me when ever I had derailed along the line in my course of work. The rest of it is plain history.
|Joe looking sharp in his FAM suit with Dato M Chandran, |
Dato Rajagobal and Windsor Paul
Joe and I had a common topic of interest for discussion or experiences to share and that was 'JESUS'. But Joe went one step further. He enrolled into Bible College and became a Pastor to lead the people in various walks of life towards knowing GOD. I have never seen Joe getting upset over trivial matters. He always kept his cool and had a broad smile on his bubbly face. He was truly a very understanding gentleman and believed that people will change for the better as time passes by. We had a small group of friends who had always supported his work for GOD and the church.
This group never said 'NO' to God and to Joe in his quest to ensure people came to know JESUS. An excellent writer in the Bahasa Malaysia language, Joe clocked many years in sports journalism and continued his church work by reaching out to Indonesian construction workers at the “Kongsi” every Saturday without fail,. He would bring them bibles so that they are able read, understand and get closer to GOD.
He loved his youth days very much and often spoke of his burning desire of forming a musical band, buying musical equipments and producing albums for the church which all happened in HIS time. He had that zest for Christ and people around him.
The sports fraternity knew Joe extremely well as he was the Sports Editor in Utusan Malaysia before moving on to join the Olympic Council of Malaysia and later on FAM as Media Officer respectively. Each time I bumped into Joe at Wisma FAM he would call out to me and say: "Sit down la ... where are you running off to?" I would tease him by inviting him to a cup of coffee instead but Joe's instant reply was:: “Ask the General”, referring to FAM General Secretary Lt Gen (Ret) Dato' Azzuddin Ahmad.
If Joe was not busy we would meet up for coffee or tosai in Bangsar with several other common pastors as friends, or have a banana leaf meal and continue our conversation about life and GOD. Joe worked 365 days a year. He could be seen on Monday to Friday in FAM while Saturdays and Sundays were reserved for the Church. Whenever he took leave he would travel to various places in Jakarta to preach the word of GOD.
When Joe broke the news that he was diagnosed with a brain tumour I was totally in a state of shock and sad. But Joe was quick to assure me that he will be back on his feet as he trusted God always. When I visited him after the operation, Joe felt a sense of renewal and I thought he was out of the danger zone. But just how wrong was I indeed. GOD had a better plan for Joe.
He would always update me on his his work, his mission and what he intends to do through emails. Ironically, he totally surrendered himself to GOD. Many came to say their farewell to Joe on Saturday. Pastors travelled from far and near to say kind words of the man who had divided his time between work, family and his mission for GOD.
As much I was saddened that I have lost a dear friend,counsel and Pastor, I was proud to see his youth praising, worshipping and talent in music, I met some young church leaders who attributed their growth much to Joe's tutelage. Many media friends also attended his funeral to say 'Thank You' to a man who was simple in his ways of life but yet always generous to share his knowledge with those who sought his advice. ALL those who went on stage spoke well of Joe which only described that he had touched the hearts of thousands and changed peoples lives.
Today we are at a loss for words and feel his absence. To his wife Josephine and daughter Janell, please be strong in times like this as Pastor Joe enjoyed a good life and did everything he could for the church and humanity. He has left us ONLY to be with the Creator,
Thank you for the support, love and friendship Joe. You will ALWAYS be remembered.