Culture

Noah Yap: Drugs and detention almost ended my career

Noah Yap // May 27, 2019, 3:29 pm

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Photo: Danielle Cheong

In 2012, I was invited to be a part of Ah Boys to Men. It was a huge blessing to me because all my life, I’ve wanted to become an actor. I even declared it to my parents when I was young.

So when I finally got the call, I was very happy and thankful. It was a miracle. And I’m still celebrating that fact today.

But in 2016, while I was still serving in the army, I was caught for the consumption of drugs.

I was sentenced to nine months in the detention barracks (DB), which is basically the army version of prison. I didn’t know what to do. I felt that my world was crashing down on me.

The nine months were not easy. Imagine being in a cell for 24 hours a day and only being able to see the sun once a week. That was how tough it was.

But I went through a harder time than most because I was a public figure. People would recognise me, come up to me and tell me straight in my face: “Noah, you deserve it.”

I was lost and put in a place where I absolutely couldn’t see any hope at all. But who could I cry out to? Nobody.

Why are you crying?

So I cried to myself. I cried not because I was stuck inside the DB, but because I was thinking about the saddest thing in life.

And do you know what was the saddest thing in life? To me, the saddest thing in life was not about losing freedom. It was not about losing all my Instagram followers.

The saddest thing was watching my parents through a glass window, talking to them through a phone and knowing that the reason they were crying was because of me.

I told myself I never want to see that happen again. Never.

Noah Yap speaking at the Celebration of Hope. Photo: Daniel Lee Woon Loong

After a month in the DB, I started attending Christian classes because we were allowed to take classes of our faith. I was so excited for the class.

During my first session, I met Pastor Norman and Pastor Jeremy, two pastors from 3:16 Church who were overseeing the class. They were so genuine and as they ministered to me, it was as though they breathed God’s love into me.

When they prayed for me, I broke down. I felt like God had placed these two people in my life during such a hopeless time – and I could now hope again.

After six months of being in the barracks, I was released because of good behaviour.

The thing about the DB is that there are two gates when you exit. When I passed through the first gate, my family was there to receive me. We cried and I hugged them for a long time. It was the first time in six months. I never felt happier in my life.

When the second gate opened, every one of my Ah Boys to Men friends came to see me. Not a single one was missing. I was so thankful. I even heard that some of them had cleared their schedules to pick me up that day. This is God’s love.

Photo: Yin Sze

But after I was released, I faced even more hardship. I may have escaped the people who judged me inside the DB, but what about the people outside? People could still search my name and find what I had done.

I was jobless for about two to three months. I went around asking others to please give me a chance. But nobody wanted to hire me.

Three months later, my manager called and told me he had a job for me.

If God can help a sinner like me and give me hope in the most hopeless of situations, He can do the same for you.

Doubtful, I asked if the other party knew who I was and what had happened. My manager said yes, but they wanted to use me anyway.

Finally! I was so happy that I got a chance. My manager sent me the script and I memorised the lines. On shoot day, I went down, got dressed and waited.

I waited for 45 minutes.

How could it be? Why were they not doing anything yet? Then my manager came into the room. One look at his face and I knew what happened.

The client didn’t want to use me anymore.

I thought that was it. And I wanted to give up. 

Have you lost heart?

But let me tell you the power of prayer. The two pastors whom I met during my time in the DB, Pastor Norman and Pastor Jeremy, came and prayed for me. We prayed for a breakthrough. We prayed for God to come into this hopeless situation.

Weeks later, Director Jack Neo called. He wanted to cast me again for the fourth instalment of Ah Boys to Men.

Did he Google my name? Of course. Did he know what happened to me? Of course. But God used him to give me a chance.

Then, Irene Ang from FLY Entertainment engaged me for hosting duties. I was back on stage talking to people. And right now, I’m shooting for Kin on Channel 5.

Photo: Vicson Huang

God’s love can come in many forms. For me, it came in the form of my family, my friends, my pastors, my bosses and every single one who has supported me until now.

And if you are reading this today, I don’t think it’s by chance. God has meant for you to be here. He wants me to speak to you today. Because just a few weeks after I was released, I received a letter.

On it reads: “Your experience is your testimony.”

This is proof of God’s love. If God can help a sinner like me and give me hope in the most hopeless of situations, He can do the same for you.


This article was adapted from Noah Yap’s testimony, which was shared at the Celebration of Hope (COH) Reality of Hope rally on May 19, 2019. Watch our highlight video to catch more action from COH.

THINK + TALK

  1. When was the last time you found yourself in a hopeless situation? Describe how you felt.
  2. Looking back, could you identify God’s love over your life despite the hopeless situation?
  3. What are some areas you need God’s help in today? Pray and claim God’s promises over it.