While studying in Anglican High Secondary School in 1994, there were compulsory Bible classes and occassional worship sessions in the school chapel. I became a Christian through my classmate Kevin. However, I was not rooted in the word of God and I can only vaguely remember watching a movie on Moses crossing the Red Sea. Eventually, I back-slided after my secondary school days.
It was only early this year when I was invited to visit a service at Hope Church Singapore that I reinvited Jesus back into my life. The truth be told, the reason why I reinvited Jesus into my life was nothing really spiritual. I felt at that point of my life that the teachings of the Bible would be a good moral compass for a “lost sheep” like me (I am born in the year of the sheep). I also knew at that point in time that I needed to build a strong foundation based on God’s word so that I would be rooted and not backslide again. However, I was just happy attending churches on Sundays but I did not feel the calling to settle down and plant my roots in a church. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a spiritual journey for me.
Psalm 139:5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Shortly after I reinvited Jesus into my life, I was nominated by my employer to go for a three weeks course in Virginia USA. It was my first visit to USA and I was representing my country for the course. I was honored and thrilled!
At first, I was hesitant to apply leave after the course as it would affect my colleagues who will be covering my portfolio during my absence. But with the encouragement from my seniors and goodwill from my bosses and colleagues, I made a decision to apply for a week of leave to tour the country, against my initial decision. Then through a twist of events, my bookings via homestay.com (a website offering homestay programme similar to airbnb) was rejected by the hosts as they were not available. As a result, I had to stay over at a homestay in Philadelphia over the weekend.
Having plenty of time on my hands, I asked the hosts for directions to churches in the vicinity. The lovely couple, John and Shelly, gave me directions to a few churches near their place. Based on their home furnishings, there were tell-tale signs that the couple were Christians and I was curious why they did not try to introduce me to their church. Thus I asked, “Which church are you attending?” And it was then that I found out that John is a Pastor at New Life Church Philadephia. I decided at that moment to visit the church on Sunday.
That morning, I arrived early, and there was a morning breakfast reception at the hall. It was a relatively small church but I was warmly welcomed by a few members which included a Caucasian, a Chinese and an Indian. It was a multi-racial mix just like Singapore! After spending the past three weeks in an all Caucasian class, I felt at home that morning. During the service, I could feel God’s presence. I wept silently as I prayed and worshipped as we sang the song “Hungry (falling on my knees)”. A fellow brother-in-Christ came up to welcome me to the church after the service. He knew that I was staying at Pastor John’s house and he made a comment “I like to believe that this is God telling you that He has not forgotten about you.” And “Yes, I believe it too.” Despite my backsliding, after all these years, God reached out to me to call me back into His kingdom!
Psalm 51:8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Life is not a bed of roses. Shortly after my USA trip. A girl whom I was dating, broke up with me. I was heart broken and that was an understatement. At that time, I felt a strong need to seek God for guidance and comfort. After my experience with New Life Church, I knew what kind of church that would fit me at this season of life – a small, humble church that is Word-based.
I searched online for a church that is Bible and Word-based and the online sermons at Living Praise Presbyterian Church caught my attention. That weekend when I visited the church, I felt God speaking to my heart as the pastor was preaching from Psalm 42:11 which asks, “Why are you so downcast?”
Those words kept ringing in my ears even after the sermon. Of course, my broken heart was not cured immediately. Even the wounds of the heart take time to heal. But I was already comforted by God’s word. The pastor concluded with the words from Psalm 42:11, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” The conclusion seemed counter-intuitive to me at that point in time. But it came from the Bible and it was God’s inspired word spoken through King David.
At that period of time, I was also doing an online Bible study on the book of Matthew and the verse from Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” seemed to jump out at me.
Not able to make sense of the logic at that point in time, I decided to heed both messages anyway.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
As I submitted myself to the Kingship of Jesus, I also realised that I have to renounce my past sinful ways. I used to struggle with anguish, self-righteousness, pride, idolatry of self, money and sex. Though on the outside, I appeared morally upright by the world’s standards but deep inside, I struggled with the inner desires of my heart. Unless some miracle happens to me from the inside, eventually my inner desire will consume me.
I was doomed right from the beginning but as I started to seek God, build a relationship with Him and placed Him above all else, I started to see a transformation of my heart.
It had started with an online video of Nick Vujicic. I had seen his videos before and each time I cried. But this time round it was different. There was a different message from the video speaking to me. Nick was asked the question about how he overcame his life challenges and circumstances. Nick credited his strength and courage to Jesus Christ. He prayed that God would heal him, and he wasn’t healed. So in desperation he prayed, “Lord, if you do not change my circumstances, change my heart.”
There were sleepless nights when I woke up troubled over some circumstances which I did not have control over. And I prayed to God “Lord, change my circumstances, if not change my heart. In the name of Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen!”
Soon, my feelings of anguish, self-righteousness, pride, idolatry were replaced by a sense of inner peace and reassurance from God that my past sins were forgiven.
Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I believe that God’s transformation in our lives is never-ending. Do I still sin? Of course. But now when sin crouches at my door, I know that I am ready. Equipped with the Armour of God, and guided by the Holy Spirit, I know that victory is on my side. I am determined to live my life in accordance to God’s will and walk the way of Jesus from now on. I also understand that in God’s grand plan, we are to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Going ahead, I look forward to growing spiritually through building a relationship with God and His people.