We married in my hometown of Sungai Petani in 2015 and settled down in my wife’s birthplace in Nibong Tebal. When our dream of starting a family didn’t materialize, we consulted a doctor who ruled out any problems with both of us.
Then a series of curious events happened that led me to witness the miracle of God’s love for us.
In 2018, as I was listening attentively to the homily at my cousin’s wedding in St Anne’s Church, Bukit Mertajam, my eyes were drawn to the glass structure behind the altar. Through that glass, I saw a beautiful tall tree that grew more stunning as the rays of the morning sunlight caught its branches.
At that very moment an inner voice urged me to pray for a child! I was taken aback. Here I was at a wedding mass and I wasn’t even thinking of my yearning for a baby at that time.
Instinctively, I went over to the church gift shop and bought a figurine of the Infant Jesus and a rosary and handed it to my wife. All throughout the day, I felt what I can best describe as ‘holy vibes’ within me.
A week later while at Sunday mass in St Anthony’s Church, Nibong Tebal, my wife Annette Anabel experienced a very strong urge to visit the Chapel of Immaculate Conception in Sungai Batu, a place that she had never been to before.
Our first pilgrimage to the chapel was on the 22nd of August 2018. No one was there except an elderly couple. The lady came over and asked us if we were there to pray for a baby! We were both surprised and shocked that they knew the reason for our visit. They then proceeded to pray over us.
6 months later, on 5th February 2019, we made our second visit during the Chinese New Year holidays. Together with a large group of pilgrims from Malacca, we listened to the many testimonies shared by Francis, the caretaker. Suddenly, I felt an inner voice telling me that there will be three of us on my next visit! I was filled with hope and a profound, deep appreciation of my faith. As we prayed together, my wife and I wept.
A month later, on the 3rd of March, a home-kit pregnancy test showed a positive reading! The next morning, my excited wife and her mother returned to the chapel together. On that same day, the doctor confirmed my wife’s pregnancy!
It is difficult to describe the incredible joy we felt when we heard the news. For the first few months of the pregnancy I had beautiful dreams and experienced a vision of a baby girl that was later confirmed by a scan!
When my wife was wheeled into the Operating Room for a Caesarean Section after a failed induction, I started to pray the Hail Mary fervently. At 10.15am despite the noise in the hospital, I heard a beautiful chorus of angelic voices singing in my ears. It was so pure and soothing that I overcame my nervousness!
Our precious angel, Joanne Ezra Virginia came into the world on October 29th 2019 at 10.29 am.
On 14th March 2020, (just 4 days before the Covid-19 Movement Control Order), we came as a family of three, as I was foretold earlier, to offer thanksgiving to Jesus and His Blessed Mother for our precious gift.
Towards the end of our visit, we were overcome by a very sweet fragrance that filled the entire chapel!
Thank you Jesus and Thank you Mother Mary!
First hand testimony by Joseph Shanger and Annette Anabel
St Anthony’s Church
11th May 2020