Dr. Foong Thye Foong (1976 – 5S1)


My Journey of Faith


My very first experience of attending bible study class was back in 1971 when I was in Remove Class. Every alternate morning, we would have bible study class and our first task was to memorize the Lord’s Prayer. I soon found out that I had two choices, either attend the morning exercise drill or attend the bible study. I was rather lazy and always went for the bible study so that I could fall asleep in the comfort of the classroom. I did not know at that time that the seed had been sown; my journey of faith began decades later.


Fifty years can be an incredibly long journey or an unbelievably short time, depending on which side of the fifty you are in. As many of my old school mates are approaching fifty, it is glad to hear that Sam Tet is also celebrating its 50th anniversary for the nurturing and education of so many people now residing around the world. Fifty is half a lifetime if we live to a hundred or two thirds of our journey if we believe the statistics of the average human lifespan. I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to think about what the purpose of life is. Is it fame, money or something more than climbing up the corporate ladder? Well, I found my answer when I nearly died of pneumonia in the winter of 1997 in Shanghai.


As I was gasping for air to stay alive, a bright light blinded my eyes and I saw a flashback of my own journey in life, from my life as a student in Sam Tet to my University years and onto the corporate world. God was with me when I got into all sorts of trouble. One scene was when I was a five year old child running around in a temple in Ipoh with my brother. We found a well and we ran and jumped forwards and backwards across the well for quite a while. My brother stopped first and asked me to stop too. I promised my brother it would be my last jump when I tried to frog-leap across the well without running, and then I jumped. I just managed to touch the other side of the well with one foot and I struggled to balance myself. My brother watched in horror and then, miraculously, it seemed that someone gave me a push from behind and I fell forward onto the ground instead of falling backwards into the well. Then, it was me again walking home from Kindergarten as I stayed back in school to catch the “fighting spider”, a popular children’s game back in the 60’s. I missed the school bus and when I emerged from the bush it was late in the afternoon and the school gates were closed. I climbed over the school gate, walked home following the main “Hue Low” street. I do not remember how, but I recall hearing a voice directing me home. I was slightly younger than 5 years old then and I managed to walk home from Yuk Choy Primary School to Green Town in peak hour traffic.


I was a mediocre student throughout my years in Sam Tet but somehow I excelled in my studies at the University. None of my classmates in Sam Tet could believe that I was the top student at University; completed my Doctorate in the shortages possible time and published more than ten research papers. I was being groomed for the top job with one of the fortune 500 companies and travelling around the world either in the front cockpit or flying in the comfort of the corporate jet. I thought I have everything, a beautiful and capable wife, three well behaved talented children and all the luxurious enjoyment that money can buy. I thought all these were results of my years of hard work and yet, the flashback of my life suggested that all these were given to me.


The light and images subsided and I heard a voice calling me repeatedly to cross the river now. I did not understand what the meaning of the instruction was at the time, but the voice reminded me that the events in my life ware not because of my luck, my hard work or my talents, but it was planned. I recall shouting out, “By whom?”, and then I woke to find that it was morning and my wife was rocking me to get up to go to the doctor.


My wife and my driver carried me to the hospital. I drifted in and out of consciousness for about a week and I continued to be prompted by the voice asking me, “What is the purpose of life?” I began to think about the question and slowly I realized that life is not about how much money you have or what type of car you have, but life is about how to live a life pleasing to God and to lift others up. Life is a marathon, and we are not alone. We can get tired and lose heart at times, but we can choose the right techniques: Throw away everything that hinders, throw off the sin that easily enslaves. I hope this will inspire some of the students, because with faith, there is always hope. However, the motto of Sam Tet does not end here; it continues to ask each one of us to be more charitable. Sam Tet has its focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the foundation of the Christian faith. He died for our iniquities so that we can be reconciled with the almighty God. Faith, Hope and Charity come from the three elements – the risen Christ, Christians and heaven.


There are possibilities waiting at our fingertips for us to discover so that we can become the persons God has called us to be. That does not mean that we will become successful people from a worldly perspective. So let us think together how we can discover our potential by looking at one of the most inspiring leaders in the Bible, Moses.

Read the story of Moses in Exodus 2:11-15 and you will realize that God uses imperfect people.


God always uses imperfect people

for His impeccable plan


I received the Lord in 1999 and one year later, I retired from the corporate world and started my own consulting company in China with the aim of preparing other corporate high flyers to be better people, rather than machines.


Last but not least, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sam Tet for educating and guiding me from a child to a man. I hope that Sam Tet will continue to sow the seeds for many more teenagers in the years to come. I would also like to hear from my classmates of 5S1 – 1976, and please contact me if you are visiting Sydney, Australia. I also look forward to sharing my next journey with all of you when Sam Tet celebrates its 75th Anniversary!


About the author:


Dr. Foong lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, Chanel (also a student from Sam Tet – Lower Six and Upper Six) and their three children, Amanda, Allan and Jessica. Thye Foong completed his Bachelor of Engineering Degree with The University of New South Wales, and was the recipient of the “Best Student of the Industrial Engineering Course in the University” award. Thye Foong started his career working in Sydney and was the youngest manager for TRW Ltd. when he became the head of planning in 1985. In 1989, Thye Foong, under the sponsorship of TRW, pursued his Doctorate in Computer Integrated Manufacturing with the University of New South Wales and he was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in 1992. In 1993, Thye Foong was expatriated to help Unilever startup a Greenfield detergent factory in Shanghai, China. Since then, Thye Foong has held a number of positions including Managing Director for Sara Lee Tianjin and Shanghai Carrier Transicold, and Operations Director for Applica Black&Decker. Currently, Dr. Foong is a partner in a consulting firm in Sydney and also runs his own manufacturing companies in China. Thye Foong has many years of experience in helping companies in China be more competitive and productive by applying lean manufacturing. Currently, Thye Foong is an active member of the local church.


My contact: tfoong88@optusnet.com.au , Phone: 61-417211063


To Pak Chee : Heepc@tm.net.my