Mario Singh: Why I Love Stories (and So Do My Kids)
A father passes on his love of stories about God to the third generation.
Mrs. Susan Singh (left) read the Bible with her three children when they were younger, using Our Daily Bread.
When Mario Singh was young, he would always look forward to his mum returning from church with the latest copy of Our Daily Bread. The stories in the devotional were captivating, and he found himself learning much about God through the engaging narratives that illustrated the biblical truths each day.
“We liked those stories,” he says. “They had a punchline, like a moral. The beauty and elegance of having stories weaved into biblical truths left an imprint, an anchor in me over the years.”
When Mario grew up, got married, and had kids, those stories did not stop. In fact, his story of stories, as it were, has gone “one full circle”.
From One Generation to the Next
While some parents may find it difficult to motivate their kids to read the Bible, Mario and his wife Shalyn have found that getting them to read stories about God makes all the difference.
Like Mario, their daughter Chantelle, 11, and son Elliot, 9, look forward to digging into God’s Word each day after they read Give Us This Day, a children’s devotional. The tales of children’s adventures and interactions with their friends and parents encourage them to read the Bible and inspire them to pray.
Not only that, the stories also give Mario and Shalyn an opening to discuss what they can learn about God. “Because the Bible verses are imprinted into the stories, after we read the devotional, they’ll start asking questions about the Bible verses,” he says.
Chantelle couldn’t agree more. Stories, she says, make reading the Bible more fun. “The stories are interesting!” she adds. “It makes it more fun to read because we’re not only reading a story but also reading about God, and learning new Bible verses.”
The 11-year-old can easily recount some of the lessons, such as the loving nature of God and His readiness to forgive. “Even if we do bad things, He will forgive us because He’s slow to be angry,” she says. “Every night I will pray and thank the Lord for what happened, and ask Him to guide me in my troubles.”
Reading God’s Word as a Family
Mario, Elliot, Chantelle and Shalyn praying the Lord’s prayer after their family devotion.
For the Singhs, reading Give Us This Day has become an integral part of their regular family devotion. They sit together in one corner of their home, read a devotion and the Bible verses together, and talk about what they learn. Sometimes, they also have Holy Communion, before closing in prayer.
“They are naturally distracted,” says Mario. “But as we do more of it, they get more and more into it, and I know they’re interested. How do I know this? Through the questions they’re asking. Sometimes the questions they ask can be quite deep. And through that questioning we unlock certain truths for them, and God becomes more real for them in their lives.”
Once, he recalls, they talked about how Jesus could be a lion and a lamb at the same time. “Elliot shared: ‘As a lamb, Jesus was sacrificed for our sins. As a lion, He came to lead and protect us.’ I remember just reaching out and hugging him, because it was such a simple yet profound answer.”
Watching her son and grandchildren read the stories of God is a great delight to Mario’s mother, Susan.
“It’s great,” she says. “This is what I want for my children and their children—that they will read God’s Word, do His work, be faithful, and be close to Him.”
How It All Began
Susan had started taking copies of Our Daily Bread home for her kids when they were old enough to read, and encouraged them by reading the devotional together with them. “They were a good introduction for my kids to go to church and to have faith in God, especially after their father passed away,” she says.
Susan can attest to the goodness and provision of God through the years. When her husband passed away from a heart attack, God gave her strength to keep going and bring up her three children single-handedly, she says. “He strengthens me,” she adds simply. “I know He answers my prayers, even in the smallest things.”
Her legacy of faith is something that remains with Mario today, and is also something that he wants to pass on to his own children.
“I remember that after reading Our Daily Bread, we prayed, which is something we still do today,” he says. “I got that from my mum. We prayed the Lord’s prayer every devotion—in fact, it was probably the first Bible passage I memorised.”
The Singhs united by a love for food and God’s word.
Living by the Word of God
Mario can attest to the presence of God in his own life. When a crisis hit his business several years ago, for example, he was reminded to keep trusting in God to provide for his family. For one year, he and Shalyn struggled in their “wilderness”, but they drew strength and comfort from Job 23:10: “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”
Recounts Mario: “Exactly one year after it happened, the Lord restored our finances. In fact, He restored it back and more. It is undeniably the hand of God.”
The experience taught Mario about the importance of giving, prompting him to start Soulrich Foundation, a charity and grantmaking philanthropic organisation. The mission of Soulrich focuses on three pillars: well-being, family, and Christian education.
“It’s one legacy I hope to give my children,” he says, “the importance of taking care of other people, so that people can see the presence of God in them. We may be the only Bible that some people will read.”
Mario and his family bless the underprivileged through projects under the Soulrich Foundation, such as the Christmas Giving Drive.
Shalyn has also seen the impact of God’s Word on her children. Once, when Chantelle was very young, she had a panic attack, likely from stress at school.
“We were having dinner, and suddenly, she told me, ‘Mummy, Mummy, I’m fainting, I have to go to the hospital, I have to see a doctor.’ I felt her heart, and it was palpitating. So I went upstairs to change,” recounts Shalyn.
“As I was walking down, I saw her praying at the door, ‘God, please heal me in Jesus’ name.’ She was praying and singing. I thought to myself: ‘Wow, this is the kind of faith she had as a preschooler.’ I was blown away by her faith and action, and it really encouraged me.”