“Never forget that you are a Christian first,” a senior doctor advised Dr Jason Chin in his fledgling years as a medical professional. These words continue to resonate with him today and have guided him in his daily decisions, way of life and work ethic.
Jason, a Community Health Officer with the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM), helps to bring awareness about cancer, treatment and prevention as well as provide early diagnosis and screenings for all types of cancer.
It’s clear that health is important to this young doctor, who is also pursuing a Master’s in Public Health at Universiti Malaya. In the future, he hopes to contribute further to the field of public health and non-communicable diseases (NCD).
How did he discover his passion for public health and people? It all began when he was first introduced to Jesus Christ at 17 years old.
“If you don’t go up, you’ll regret it”
As Jason reminisces about his childhood, he recalls feeling melancholic with a sullen composure and a negative outlook on life and his future. However, at the age of 17, he was invited to attend Christian Fellowship (CF) at his school, where he was introduced to Jesus.
Although he initially enjoyed the CF gatherings for their fun and fellowship, a church camp he attended later that year proved to be a pivotal moment for him.
During the camp, the pastor delivered a sermon on Gideon from Judges 6. The sermon resonated with Jason, as God had already called Gideon a “mighty warrior” and commanded him to lead Israel out of Midian’s hand. The pastor then made the statement, “God doesn’t call the qualified but qualifies the called,” which struck a chord with Jason.
That statement filled me with hope and confidence [as I was negative and did not have much hope for the future],” Jason recalls.
That night, the salvation call was made but Jason stayed glued to his seat, hesitant to move forward as he was a non-Christian.
“But then I heard a still, small voice say, “Jason, if you don’t go, you’ll regret it.” So I went up and said the sinner’s prayer. I then felt God’s presence and His Spirit fill me, and suddenly, I was on the ground,” he remembers.
Through the encounter, his body was numb but he sensed a deep peace and joy at the time. The small voice then spoke again, “Think about who I am and think about who Christ is.”
From that day on, Jason says, he has never doubted his Christian faith.
From the cockpit to clinics
As a boy, the thought of being a doctor never crossed his mind.
“I had always dreamed of flying in the skies as a profession, aiming for the prestigious title and lifestyle that came with being a pilot,” Jason shares.
When he came to know Jesus, however, his priorities took a dramatic shift. After completing his A Levels, the young man would take walks around his housing area, praying and asking the Lord for direction in the next season.
He felt the Lord say, “I want you to help people,” and as he prayed through different career options, the idea of becoming a medical doctor brought him the most peace.
After completing his housemanship in Sabah, Jason joined NCSM, Malaysia’s first cancer-focused NGO established in 1966.
He has been with the NGO for eight months, and so far nearly 2,000 cancer patients have been screened throughout Peninsular Malaysia.
Helping Malaysians face cancer
Cancer is on the rise in Malaysia. In 2020, 48,639 new cases were diagnosed and in the same year, 29,530 Malaysians lost their lives to the disease.
For Jason, early screening is key when it comes to fighting cancer.
“We provide free community health and cancer screenings via our Jejak Kanser programme, bringing equipment to communities for screening of various diseases. Common diseases include hypertension, obesity and diabetes while the specific cancers we screen for are breast, lung, liver, prostate, cervical and colorectal cancers,” he explains.
He finds fulfilment in being able to learn more about people, their backgrounds and their beliefs as he helps them understand the dangers of cancer and the importance of early screening (many cancers are treatable if discovered early).
“I want to be a blessing to my patients by educating and providing awareness of their condition. I also take the opportunity to counsel them on their worries, and by God’s grace have had a few opportunities to pray for patients who were stressed or anxious about their results,” he says.
Jason also remembers the advice of a senior doctor to remember his identity in Christ. It provides a framework for him when seeing his patients, reminding him to be a blessing always.
Keeping God in the centre of it all
A significant challenge faced by many medical professionals in Malaysia is the busy schedule that comes with the profession.
Jason opines that a number of Christian medical professionals end up backsliding after a period of time due to stressors including long working hours, difficult environments, career uncertainty and having to face death daily.
Weekends, and therefore the ability to attend church services or actively serve, are also typically affected as doctors follow a different working schedule.
“When God is at the centre of my life, work becomes more manageable knowing that He is encouraging me every step of the way, and a community of believers has been crucial in my walk with God. These have allowed me to fight the good fight and keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7-8),” he said.
Encouraging other medical professionals to stay the course, Jason reminds us that we are all children of God, and prioritising daily devotion and prayer time with Jesus is immensely helpful.
“God is constantly showing us our purpose daily, we only need to pray and ask for His guidance to open up the eyes of our heart to see His hands at work in our working lives,” says the doctor, who worships at Acts Church and serves in the children’s and youth ministries.
Looking ahead to greater things for public health
A doctor’s life is often not glamorous or comfortable, but Jason hopes to continue impacting communities in Malaysia through his work in advancing cancer awareness and treatment for the general population.
One day, he says, he hopes to contribute to public health and the field of non-communicable diseases on an even larger scale by joining the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Jason knows the road ahead will not be easy, and that suffering, trials and tribulations may line his path. But he finds comfort in Romans 5:3-5.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.ROMANS 5:3-5
All those years ago, God turned a sullen boy’s life around by offering him a fulfilled and purposeful future. Today, he holds tightly to the rope of hope found only in Christ.
“My faith now in my adult and working life serves as a compass and encouragement to keep pressing on. God constantly guides my path, helps with my decision-making and rebukes me when necessary,” he says gratefully.
“Wherever I am, I’m sure God has a will, way and purpose for my life.”