Life Stories

Disabled but Determined, With a Dream for Translation9 min read

We have a hero in our midst.

Riady was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects muscle coordination and makes common activities such as writing and walking more difficult. His vocal cords were also damaged at birth. But he overcame the odds and recently shared his inspiring story with local Chinese newspaper, Lianhe Zaobao (click here to go to the full English translation).

Riady came to HOGC as a 14-year-old. Today, he is working in an MNC as a translator. He also serves in church where he translates Bible teachings that impact the Chinese-speaking world.

This is what HOGC is about – believing in Youths and celebrating them as they grow up and step into their destinies of significance and success.

His talent spoke for itself

As Pastor How spoke to Riady, he discovered Riady’s interest in the Chinese language. He immediately got Riady to join our HOGC Translation ministry. While everyone else were volunteers, Ps How insisted on paying Riady the market rate for his work. 

When Pastor How found out more about Riady, he discovered his interest in the Chinese language.

Pastor How explained, “I wanted youths like Riady to know that they are valued. God has given him talents and abilities to contribute and make a difference. Furthermore, I wanted to encourage him to see that he has a bright future, with an income-generating career and difference-making destiny.”

Riady recounted this as a significant point in his life. He shared, “Honestly, I didn’t have prior experience in translation. I wasn’t even in university yet! I simply loved languages. So I was shocked that pastors insisted on paying me the market rate – as a volunteer! But you know what, that incident totally changed my self-perception. I realised I could pursue translating as a full-time career in the future.”

Riady with Pastor How and Pastor Lia

Not only is he a professional translator, he is now a trainer in HOGC’s Chinese Language Ministry.

A Voice of Inspiration

“Now, I take every opportunity I have to speak of what God has done in my life to inspire others. Grateful for what my church and pastors have done for me, I want to pay it forward. I dream to train generations of translators who will excel in their craft and be grounded in the Word of God!” 

Recently, he had the chance to share his life story at a conference:

“One night I was just writing down my dreams – to serve during a HoGc Experience or go overseas for a Strong Church Hong Kong Conference. The very next day, I received a text inviting me to join Pastor How’s team when he went to preach in a conference. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to share my testimony and gain exposure from visiting a different church. I was so encouraged seeing the impact my story can make!”

Riady receiving a standing ovation at the conference.

We live among heroes. In HOGC, we will always believe in Youths. This is one of the many stories of young people discovering their gifts and destinies in HOGC!

Disabled but Determined, With a Dream for Translation

Published on Lianhe Zaobao on: 20 January 2021
(For the original full Chinese article, click here)

Riady Tay (郑倍昆) was born with cerebral palsy but his condition did not stop him from pursuing his dreams.

Now, he does translation work for a gaming company and he plans to conduct research on disability studies and comparative literature combined. He hopes that it will inspire the next generation to reflect on society’s attitude towards disabled persons. 

“People may have limits, but dreams have no limits. When your dreams die, dream another dream.” This is what 23-year-old Riady wants to share with young people around him.

With the impact of the pandemic, it is no small feat for graduates to find a job – much less one they love doing. Riady graduated from Nanyang Technological University last year with a major in English and minor in translation. Like one of many graduates, he had to submit his resume many times before landing his current job in a gaming company, where he translates their games from Chinese to English.

But Riady didn’t just face external challenges, he was also born with cerebral palsy, so he had to learn how to cope with that disability in his daily life. 

Friends in church gave him a sense of belonging

Riady (left) in his everyday life getting the support of his family, friends, pastors and professors, which made him feel blessed.

When talking about his condition, Riady shares openly, “Because I was born prematurely, I didn’t even weigh 1kg. I was put in the intensive care unit and I had to undergo intubation. This damaged my vocal cords and made my voice very soft. Besides that, the muscles for my lower limbs are very tense, which makes it difficult for me to move.”

In everyday life, Riady’s daily struggles include having to take detours whenever he encounters stairs and escalators. He says, “In crowded places, I try to walk close to the handrails or the walls. At times, I feel very frustrated and helpless, because things regular people can do are hard for me.” Besides his physical challenges, Riady was often made fun of in secondary school. Students would mock and imitate the way he walked and his soft voice meanly. Those incidents left him feeling isolated and lacking self-confidence.

However, he’s glad to have found a group of church friends in his secondary school days. They invited him to join them for various activities, and soon he found comfort and a sense of belonging. He said, “After my school cancelled my graduation ceremony last year, they organised a graduation ceremony for me online. They even gave me valuable advice before I started work. In fact, we even went on a trip to Johor Bahru about two years ago!”

Riady’s growing-up years might had been tougher than most, but his life motto is a quote by the missionary William Carey, “I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” 

He said, “We all need to recognise that failure is something we will encounter in life, and we mustn’t let failure make us feel defeated. In fact, we need to make a difference, help, inspire and encourage other people. Riches and fame will fade away when our lives end, but the impact you make in the lives of people is something that lasts and does not diminish with time.”

Cultivating his linguistic abilities since young 

Riady always had an interest in languages, with a love for reading. During his childhood, his grandfather would make him recite Tang poetry, read the papers and listen to the radio. So, his Chinese improved bit by bit. With a smile on his face, he shared, “I pretty much grew up listening to my radio at home. Till today, the radio I grew up listening to is still the same one that accompanies me to bed every night.”


Excerpt from Riady’s Interview with Lianhe Zaobao

Riady studied both Chinese and English Literature in junior college. When Pastor Tan Seow How and Pastor Cecilia Chan from Heart of God Church (the church which Riady attends) found out his major and love for the Chinese language, they offered Riady the opportunity to translate the church’s sermons and other resources, and even paid him market rate though he had no experience at all. He was both shocked and touched. He accepted the job offer from his pastors, which boosted his confidence and kick-started his career in translation.

Later on in university, Riady entertained the idea of doing translations for a living. He even did a minor in translation. He shared frankly, “My parents were always worried that I wouldn’t get a stable job after graduation. Even before the pandemic, because of the small size of the Singapore market, the majority of translators do it part-time and they don’t get paid much.” 

Yet, he believes that the translation experience he has accumulated in church has helped him with finding a full-time professional translation job in August last year. Both he and his mum were overjoyed when they found out that the gaming company had decided to hire him.

Plans to do academic research 

Even though there was much inconvenience caused by the pandemic, Riady felt he managed to use this time well. He helped translate the church’s videos when the pandemic first broke out, so he accumulated experience in doing video translations. With encouragement from his university professors, Riady even contributed an essay to a book on Disability Studies in Singapore, hoping it will raise awareness towards disabled people.

Three years after the pandemic is over, what does he plan to do? Riady plans to pursue his masters in Disability Studies and Comparative Literature. His interest was sparked while doing his thesis and submitting his work for academic publishing. Also, these two areas are not commonly studied. Riady hopes that his own knowledge and experience can influence and help the next generation of young people. He believes this research can inspire Singaporeans (especially the younger generation) to think cross-culturally on one hand, and encourage people to reflect on their attitude towards people with disabilities on the other. At the same time, it will also help reevaluate the bias society has towards people with disabilities, and the true value they have in society.

Riady shared, “Don’t see this interview as another sob story, but as a story birthed from dreams, encouragement and the belief of others. This isn’t just my story, but the story of my family, friends, pastors and professors who supported me. Because of them, I don’t see myself as unfortunate, if anything I’ve been blessed.”

Watch Riady share this inspiring story here:

Overcoming the Challenges of Cerebral Palsy | Heart of God Church Academic Excellence Programme

You May Also Like