From Idols to Salvation
DEVOUT IDOL WORSHIPPER
I am by nature very
introspective and religious. At the tender age of ten, I was already asking such
questions: Is there a God? How many deities are there in heaven? Where will I
go after I die?
My family was Taoist and
worshipped the Goddess of Mercy. I liked going with my parents and especially
my grandmother to Chinese temples for worship rituals.
We would gather with other
worshippers and chant for half an hour or more and listen to sermons from a
monk. Although I didn’t understand most of what the monk said, I never grumbled
about the long hours there.
Back home, I chanted three
times a day and offered incense to the ancestral shrines and idols in the house.
I was a staunch believer in ancestor worship even at that young age.
My first and indirect brush
with Christianity came when I was twelve, and it literally ended in flames. I found
out that one of my brothers had joined a very active Christian group at his
college. Christian tracts were often sent to him at home, and he had to be
cautious as my father was extremely anti-Christian. I also knew where my
brother hid those publications.
My father eventually discovered
that my brother was part of this Christian group and lectured and nagged him
daily. Seeing my father so angry and wanting to please him, I told him where
the tracts were hidden. When my brother was out of the house, we dug them out
and burned them. I was glad that I had pleased my father by helping him get rid
of these Christian tracts.
About two years later, I had
two classmates and an English teacher who were Christians. Once in a while,
these classmates would talk to me about Christ, but it did not leave any
impression on me.
I had been told from a young
age that all religions were the same since they all taught man to do good. Moreover,
I had also been taught that Christianity was a foreign religion and we Chinese
should stick to the traditional religions, namely Taoism or Buddhism, handed
down from our ancestors.
One time, a Christian classmate
shocked me when he said that Christians are smarter than Taoists because
Taoists are silly enough to offer food to blocks of wood. I knew that he was
serious because his family had converted to Christianity. I was so offended by
his remark that I stopped listening from then on whenever Jesus was mentioned.
That same year, when I was
fourteen, my father’s health deteriorated very quickly and he was diagnosed
with liver cancer. By year’s end, the pain was so great that he would toss and
turn with each spasm. The sight of him in such agony broke my heart.
Whenever my father was in pain,
I would beg the deities I worshipped to have mercy and to heal him. Oftentimes,
I would plead for them to give him a moment of peace and be relieved of the
pain so he could sleep well. I even hit my head against the floor as I begged. But
none of my requests were granted.
One night, while my father was
in the throes of pain, my Christian classmate called me. When I told her that
my father was in great pain, she suggested that I pray to Jesus. The moment I
heard “Jesus,” I hung up on her. She called back and I hung up when she brought
up Jesus again. When she called a third time, I gave in.
Since my usual deities had not
listened to me, I decided that there was no harm in trying this foreign God. So
I asked her to teach me how to pray. She said, “It’s very simple. Start with
‘In Jesus’ name I pray,’ and just say whatever you want to say. That’s all.” Indeed,
it seemed simple—no idol was needed, and I could pray anywhere.
After hanging up the phone, I
went into my room. I prayed and begged with a sincere heart that Jesus relieve
my father of his pain. During the prayer, I felt a great sense of peace that I
had never experienced before, certainly not while chanting or praying to idols.
After the prayer, I went to my
father’s room to check on him. He was no longer in pain and was fast asleep!
Exhilarated, I told myself that there must be something special about Jesus. My
request had been granted after only one prayer to Him while my repeated
requests to the idols had been ignored.
I decided not to offer incense
or chant to any deities anymore. I wanted to learn more about Jesus.
SEARCH FOR JESUS
Back in school, I began to
discuss Christianity with my two Christian classmates and asked them questions
about the religion. When I did that, many of my Muslim classmates, who had
never talked to me about Islam before, also came to talk to me about the Quran.
My new faith in Jesus was soon
shaken by my interaction with my Muslim friends. There were times when they were
so persuasive that I was tempted to join their religious classes and have their
teacher explain the teachings of Islam to me. But I never went.
Instead, I turned to my Christian
English teacher to clear my doubts. However, her answers could not completely
reassure me and restore my faith in Christianity. I was left with many
questions and no answers.
About two months later, the
classmate who had taught me to pray was also looking for a church to join. She
told me that she knew of a small and quiet church at Telok
Kurau called True Jesus Church. She added that if one
sat quietly in the pews towards the back of the chapel, people would not come
up to ask questions or chat.
Since I am quite a shy person
who does not like crowds, this church sounded ideal. We decided to attend a
service together and joined a Wednesday evening service. I was quite shocked by
the prayer in tongues. Still, I returned for a Friday evening service when my
classmate asked me to go with her again.
During the closing prayer, I
heard singing. It was an angelic sound that hovered near the ceiling, like a
physical presence that swayed back and forth. It was very soothing and gave me
a wonderfully peaceful sensation. From then on, all fear of prayer in tongues
I stayed in the True Jesus
Church to search for the truth. I often felt that the sermons were directed at
me. Sometimes, they answered my questions about life, and other times they
strengthened my conviction that this was the true church of God.
I asked many questions, including
those that had surfaced after conversations with my Muslim friends. Thank God
that the two brothers who studied the Bible with me were able to provide
Bible-based answers to all my questions.
However, many obstacles popped up
after I started going to church. It was difficult to attend services because my
family still opposed Christianity, and I had to lie about where I was going in
order to get out of the house.
year after I came to True Jesus Church, my father passed away. After the
funeral, I was told to offer incense to his tablet on the altar every morning.
I refused, which angered my family and caused them to see me as an unfilial child.
addition, I had to buy or cook my own meals during festive seasons as I refused
to eat the food that my family had sacrificed to the idols. But through it all,
I never saw these obstacles as a burden because I knew that I had to do what
was right in the eyes of God.
Over the next few years, with
increased understanding of the truth, I was even more convinced that I had
found the true church. My discussions with classmates from other Christian
denominations reinforced this belief because I found that they did not fully
adhere to the Bible.
I was eager to get baptized but had
to wait, since my family opposed my baptism and I was not yet twenty-one years
old. As a minor, I wasn’t free to make this decision on my own. But when I
turned twenty, I signed up for baptism because I didn’t want to delay any
longer. I did not tell my siblings because I knew they would disagree with my
decision. I did tell my mother, who gave me permission to proceed.
than two decades have passed, and I still feel so very blessed that God brought
me to His true church. I have had many doctrinal discussions with other
Christians, even attending their services to see what their worship sessions
were like. I could never feel the presence of God in these other places.
Conversely, attending worship
services at the True Jesus Church is like coming home. Though I am still a shy
person, I enjoy the fellowship with brothers and sisters. The truth from the
sermons continue to enlighten and inspire me, and I derive so much peace and
joy listening to the word of God that I try to attend all services.
Great is the Lord! He led me to
know Him even though I was a sinner who once felt anger at the mention of His
name. I really thank God for such deep love and mercy. All glory to Jesus!