Dear beloved readers, I would like to share with you my journey as a Christian basketball player and how God graciously and silently leads and guides me through the many hurdles and distractions I encountered during my sometimes difficult experiences as a teen and a national player.
I am Alvin Lau Bik Jie, age 19. I started playing basketball at the age of 12. Being TALL, I had initially considered it a hobby. However, coaches from other primary schools soon started “pulling” me to go to their secondary (no mistake) schools. I knew then I was “important” to them and I began to take the game seriously, wanting to make a difference with it.
At 13 years of age I was first drafted into the Kuching basketball team for training and selection. Only 12 of the 24 players would be selected for further “grooming” and the pressure was intense as everybody wanted to outdo the others. As a younger and less experienced player in the group, at first, whenever I walked into the basketball court, everyone looked at me and started talking and whispering. I had no idea if it was about me or something else and I felt uneasy.
The coach was strict and he reminded us his job was to kick out 12 unselected players after completion of the training. I was alone like a lamb waiting to be slaughtered. Then I prayed to God, asking for protection, prayed that I could stay calm and that I wouldn’t say anything bad that could get me into trouble. God answered. Slowly not only did I improve my skills, I also became good friends and teammates with the others. The days passed and the final selection list was out; my name was called and I was one of the 12 players selected. I was very happy and we played in many competitions here and there. My parents were proud of me. All glory to God.
My First Storm
Like what they have always said, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbow. Storms and heavy rain could hit you and they would hit you HARD sometimes if you are not careful. I was 15 years old when my first injury came. Unfortunately, it was before the under 16 Lee Mun Chak Cup, my first chance to represent the state. The doctor who checked me pronounced that a bone on my left ankle was dislocated and I needed rest for half a year. Yes, HALF A YEAR! I was down, I cried and had emotional problems every day after that. People told me, “It’s alright, Alvin, you will have the chance to represent Sarawak again”. But they had no idea how hard it was to take all this in. Maybe they were not athletes so could not understand every opportunity was a golden one. The first opportunity could well be my last! I lost faith in God then, stopped praying and started complaining why God had placed me in a situation like this.
Days passed by, I stopped playing basketball and I entertained thoughts of quitting. How could I play as a cripple?
Nick Inspired Me
Then one day, when I was scrolling down my Face book page, I saw an inspiring video about a guy named Nick Vujicic. I am very sure he is familiar to you all. He is a guy with no arms and legs yet, he is doing God’s work by going all around the world inspiring people. At the end of the video, he said “If God can use a man with no hands and feet as his arms and legs, He will use you. He will be with you till the end.”
Nick has no hands and legs and a million times worse off than me physically but he did not complain like me. I broke down in tears; I had lost faith in God and stopped praying just because of missing an opportunity? “Wow, that was too much,” I said to myself.
As the bible says in Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.” I realized I was wrong to leave and walk my own path without God. I prayed to God for forgiveness and strength to carry on with HIM to lead me.
At the end of 2012, I was given my second chance to represent Sarawak. I was scared and nervous because it was my first opportunity to represent the State. That meant I would be playing against other states. I prayed to God, “God, give me courage, bless me with strength and change my attitude so no matter what I do or say on the court I will glorify your name.”
After the competition, I was even selected to be one of the 12 members out of 14 states to represent Malaysia! Then I knew, God didn’t do this without any reason, he did it for a purpose. He wanted me to do something greater. I learned God sometimes just has to break you down to bless you all the way up.
Making the decision was hard. In order to represent Malaysia, I had to leave Kuching and proceed to KL for training, to live and study there. And the hardest part was leaving my family. I was determined to go but at the same time fearful and uncertain of my future and how my family felt when I left them for KL. We sat down and prayed together asking for God’s direction and guidance. Finally I decided, with my parents’ blessing and God’s grace, to move to KL. To this day, I have no regrets in my decision because I believe God gave me the answer that day and told me to go to KL to improve myself, gain experience, and make my family proud and most important of all: GLORIFY HIS NAME THROUGH BASKETBALL.
Being in the national team was tough. Waking up as early as 4 or 5 in the morning, we trained daily before school, resting only on Saturdays and Sundays. I worked to train as hard as I could to improve myself. But unfortunately, one day I began to go sideways again.
I met a girl and I was so distracted by her and spending so much time with her that I sometimes even neglected my studies and, worst of all, I forgot to go to church. And yes… If you really want to know, I got into a relationship with her thinking she was the one. We were so in love (according to me), until my life’s most important competition of all arrived — the FIBA under 16 Championship tournament. It was the night before I faced the team from India that she unexpectedly broke up with me. With a broken heart, I played badly and got scolded by the coach. That night I started complaining to God asking why he had done this to me. Then I realised God had allowed this not because he wanted me to have a broken heart or suffer. It was because in the first place I had forgotten God and I didn’t walk his path as a Christian athlete should. It was I who didn’t go to church, it was I who made myself vulnerable to Satan’s attack because my relationship with God got “cold”. Well, not anymore. I said to myself.
Before I knew it, I was facing my second competition, SEABA (South East Asia Basketball Championship). I would be up against Malaysia’s old rival, the Philippines. In fact they were the defending champions. The night before I faced the Philippines, I was afraid, nervous and anxious. All the bad emotions you could think of went through my mind. But all those emotions came to an end when I prayed to God. “God, I know I have done things in the past that have let you down, so now I come to you as a weak and tired solider, asking once again for forgiveness for what I have done. Grant me power and courage, stamina and strength, so that I can once again glorify your name on the court. I believe in you God, I believe that you’ll provide me with the best among the best. No matter what happens tonight, win or lose, I will do everything to bring the best to you and my family. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen. ”
That night, we lost…. But we had definitely left a mark on them; never underestimate your old rival when they have God by their side.
Focus on SPM
After a year, I left the National Team and came back to Kuching because I thought it was time to continue my studies and focus on my SPM. Standing proud as a warrior of God, I have never stopped doing God’s work on the basketball court. Whenever I play on the court or off the court, I always seek the chance to bring God’s words to the players in my team or even the opponent team. Slowly, I gained fame. Many people from all around East Malaysia started to hear about Alvin Lau. There are times when I walk along the streets and people who pass by me gasp, “OMG are you that tall dude Alvin Lau??!!” In my opinion, God has blessed me with this fame because he wants me to learn how to use it in a right way and grow in a mature way so I can always bring glory to His name.
So far, I have been to Indonesia, Taiwan, Iran, Hong Kong, Singapore and even the United States of America. I am one of the first two in Malaysia to be chosen to go to USA to be trained by the expert. I don’t think I can ever repay God because He blesses me with so many things in life, supportive parents, friends and much more. That is why, to all the young readers out there who want to make a difference and wish to spread God’s wisdom through sports, go ahead; just do it and always have faith in God as He will help you no matter what situation you are in. From the smallest things like by saying, “Jesus Loves You” to the “large” job of becoming a pastor to spread His words, GO. Do it, not for yourself but for God!
To sum up, I think the most important lesson that I’ve learned throughout this incredible journey is to Never Leave God. With God, we can do anything. I am writing this article not because I want to show you guys how good I am in basketball or show off how many places I have been to in my life. I want to show you how amazing God is in my life and how He leads me with rainbows and through storms and how He has blessed me beyond things that I could ever dream of. So go out there, bring glory to His name and you shall be blessed.
This is the story of my amazing journey, what’s yours? 🙂
By Alvin Lau Bik Jie
Ching Kwong Methodist Church,