Chester Chua in his “mobile church”, the taxi he drives, decorated with figurines and prayer cards that remind him of his Catholic faith. Photo by Joyce Gan
CHESTER CHUA, A CITICAB driver, does not consider his taxi only a vehicle, but a “mobile church”. Catholic passengers who enter his cab would recognise immediately why this is so. On his dashboard is displayed miniature Catholic figurines – a crucifix, Mother Mary, St. Christopher; a small calendar depicting Catholic images, a bookmark of Mother Teresa hanging from the overhead light, and around his rearview mirror, a rosary.
Rather than looking garish and overwhelming, his passengers have described the ambience created within his cab as “very peaceful”. Catholics, especially, would be pleased to identify themselves when they see the rosary, says Mr Chua.
The 52-year-old parishioner of Holy Cross only started driving taxis from 2002, two years after his baptism. Since then, these figurines have been in his cab, “a reminder of what God has done for me”, he says, “and for me to do His will”.
Mr Chua was baptised in 2000 after going through RCIA at Novena Church, a church where he had gone to for 40 years before his baptism. He continues to attend the Saturday novena devotions there.
Mr Chua said he used to follow his grandmother to Novena Church from the time he was aged five to seven. Back then, though he thought of getting baptised, he feared he would not be able to cope with learning about the faith.
“Also, I wanted to think carefully. This is something very serious,” he explained. “Later, I thought to myself, after 40 over years and I’m still with the faith, I might as well sign up [for RCIA] and go through ‘the proper way’.”
He described what he used to think of himself, as a non-Catholic going to the Novena Church faithfully, “It’s like driving without a license, I was not a full-fledged Catholic.”
Mr Chua added that he has received many blessings from God – good health and peace that he prays for.
“[My] baptism is to acknowledge my belief in God,” he said. “Whether you put your belief into action is another thing.”
Which is why he likes having his Catholic figurines in his taxi, he explained.
“They help especially when I get angry at other drivers,” he laughed. “But it doesn’t work all the time of course. When I still get angry, then I remind myself to calm down.”
“Also, driving on the road everyday (9.00am to 9.00pm) can be very dangerous, sometimes we meet difficult passengers and we never know if we will encounter robbers [but with these], I feel very safe, like God is with me all the time.”
He shares that he is fond of his Mother Teresa bookmark, one given by a friend.
“I admire her a lot. She is a very kind soul. If we can just follow up to a certain percentage of what she’s like, we will be very good people,” he said.
“Mother Teresa lived in our era, a living example [of a witness to our] Catholic faith,” he said. “So I hang this bookmark and hope to let as many people know about it as possible.”
“Some passengers see these figurines and [reveal that] they haven’t gone for Mass in many years. I tell them, ‘Don’t give up. Whatever it is, you must cling onto your faith’. I hope I say the right things to them,” he laughed and added, “I just tell them, go back to church, you are in the right faith.”
Does he feel more compelled to treat his passengers better as a witness to his faith?
“Of course,” he answered. I am also [constantly] reminded to do an honest job, (which means) don’t cheat my passengers, be nice to them, be fair.”
Mr Chua added, “But even without these devotions, God is watching. These are only for our own reflection, a reminder.”
By Joyce Gan