My Family’s Conversion to Christianity
James Lee—Subang Jaya, Malaysia
Twenty-eight years ago, my family
lived in Sitiawan, a small town in the state of
Perak, Malaysia. Most of the Fuzhou settlers from China immigrated to Sitiawan and adopted Christianity. However, we were Taoists
and worshipped our ancestors. My mother never failed to place the daily portion
of food on the altar.
As a young boy, I did not dare to
go near the altar because I was afraid the gods would punish me if I disturbed
them. I was terrified by the way the idols looked, and I only worshipped them
because I was afraid they would punish me for neglecting them if I didn’t. What
irony! I knew of this other god called Jesus, but I thought that He was only
One day in June 1981, my mother
was on her way to the market, as had been her routine for many years. While she
was riding her bicycle, she felt very dizzy all of a sudden. She had difficulty
continuing because it was so severe. When she finally cycled home, she was very
tired and soon lost her appetite. She immediately went to see a doctor, but he
was unable to diagnose her illness.
My father, a staunch follower of
the teachings of Taoism, went to the temple to consult a medium. He said that
my mother had met the ghost of a man believed to have committed suicide forty
years ago by jumping into a well in front of our house.
According to the medium, it was
possible that she met the ghost while she was drying clothes in front of our
house. He said that my mother became ill because of the ghost, and he gave my
father a talisman to be burned and then mixed with water to drink. He told my
father that this would cast the evil ghost out of my mother’s body.
My father carefully followed the
instructions of the medium and gave my mother the burnt talisman. However, it
did not do her any good. She felt more miserable, could not sleep well, and
felt very cold all the time. Her heart always felt like a piece of ice.
During this period of illness, she
often felt compelled to call up to the heavens to help her. She did not really
know whom she was calling to, but sometimes she would just cry out, “God,
please help me!”
After being ill for three months,
my mother could no longer perform most of the household chores. I had to help
out with washing the dishes and sweeping the floor, chores that a
seven-year-old does not like to do. My father was very busy managing a tapioca
plantation, so we decided to ask my grandmother to come stay with us.
My maternal grandmother was living
in Sungai Siput, a neighboring town, but she did not
have a telephone. My father had to call my aunt in Sungai Siput
and ask her to pass on the message.
It happened that my aunt was a
member of the True Jesus Church. When she learned of my mother’s illness, she
asked whether she could bring a few deacons to pray for her. Desperately in
need of help, we agreed even though we believed that Jesus was a god of the
A few days later, my aunt came
with two deacons. They prayed for my mother for half an hour and also laid
hands on her. At first, we felt uncomfortable because they were praying loudly
in tongues, but we ended up praying along with them anyway.
Right after the prayer, we could
see that my mother’s countenance had changed. She was no longer pale. She even
invited the deacons and our aunt to stay for lunch.
During the meal, she finished
everything that was served. From that day on, after only one prayer, my mother
was completely healed and able to lead a normal life once again.
BAPTIZED INTO THE TRUE CHURCH
Our family continued to pray to
the almighty God and began to attend services at the True Jesus Church in Kampung Koh, the nearest church
to Sitiawan. My younger sister and I started
attending religious education classes, and I enjoyed listening to Bible stories
and singing children’s songs.
After attending services for about
three months, my mother decided that we should all get baptized. My father was
very interested in receiving baptism after the miracle that had happened to my
mother; however, he felt it was his duty to uphold the rituals of ancestor
worship and be a filial son to his parents. He had reservations because his
mother objected to his conversion to Christianity.
My aunt encouraged us to attend
the year-end spiritual convocation in Singapore and be baptized there. We took
a bus to Singapore to attend the three-day spiritual convocation, leaving my
father back in Malaysia.
Our baptism was scheduled for
Sunday morning. On Friday, during the first evening session of the spiritual
convocation, my mother started feeling ill again.
That night she had a dream. She was
in a dimly lit room and suddenly felt like vomiting. She used both of her hands
to cover her mouth when she vomited, and she felt something in her hands. She
walked towards the light to see what it was. To her surprise, she saw the Taoist
talisman she had taken months ago when she had first fallen ill.
After that dream, she was no
longer sick and was again convinced that Jesus Christ was real and alive. She
was confident that the True Jesus Church was indeed the true church.
On Sabbath, the day before we were
all to be baptized, my mother received the precious Holy Spirit. The joy that
she felt when receiving the Holy Spirit was indescribable, and she felt great
peace in her heart.
The next day, my mother, sister,
and I were baptized into the True Jesus Church. Even though I was only seven
years old, I felt that I was a new person after baptism, no longer filled with
sin. It was wonderful to feel such joy.
OVERCOMING TRIALS IN PEACE
Months went by after our baptism,
and my mother’s sickness never recurred. We attended services regularly.
Because my father was still
reluctant to be baptized in fear of severing his relationship with his mother,
my mother continued to preach to him. She would tell him that the True Jesus
Church is indeed the true church where God could be found and that it would be
a waste if he were to leave this world without being baptized since he already
Every day she urged him to
convert. After three years, my father decided to get baptized despite strong
objection from my grandmother. I was very happy when my father was baptized
because our whole family was finally in the Lord.
The joy that we felt after my
father was baptized was dampened whenever our extended family gathered together.
I remember vividly that, during
reunion dinners, my grandmother would deliberately offer all of the best dishes
to the ancestors before serving them at the table. Very little food was left
for the four of us to eat.
During All Souls Day (also known
as Tomb Sweeping Day), my uncles and aunts would insult my parents, accusing
them of being unfilial children because they did not
participate in the pagan rituals. Coming from our relatives, such accusations
and treatment were very hurtful. However, by relying on our Lord Jesus Christ, we
were able to find peace despite the persecution.
As it says in John 14:27,
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid.”
After some years, my grandmother
was diagnosed with senile dementia. She started to lose her memory and could no
longer take care of herself. At first, each of her nine children took turns to
take care of her for three months at a time, but after only one rotation they
felt it was too much of a burden.
Disregarding the many times that
my grandmother had humiliated her out of resentment for bringing our family to
Christianity, my mother patiently took care of her as her own mother. She
looked after her every need for four years, up until my grandmother’s last
My uncles and aunts were touched
by the true filial piety my mother showed my grandmother. From then on, they no
longer persecuted us.
I thank God for guiding my whole family
through such difficult times and giving us the strength and peace to continue
with our faith. As Peter encourages us,
[Have] your conduct [be] honorable among the
Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good
works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Pet 2:12)
It is truly a blessing from God to
be a part of the true church, and I am happy that I grew up with the truth. The
heavenly road is never an easy one, but by relying upon our almighty God we
will be able to tread with patience so that we will finally inherit the crown
of righteousness and glorify His name.
May we all treasure our status as
children of God and preach the good news.