HOW THE LORD CALLED ME
Irene Lane — Irvine, California, USA
STARTING OVER IN SINGAPORE
My Buddhist grandparents left China in their youth and settled in Indonesia,
where I was born many years later. My mother was a Buddhist by birth, but my
dad was an avid self-believer and he was always confident in whatever he did.
I had a happy childhood growing up
in my parents’ home, and their only requirement was for me to study hard. They
sent me to a Christian school and, occasionally, I prayed to my grandparents’ portraits.
Sometimes, during Chinese New Year, I would visit the temple and ask for higher
Meanwhile, the teachers at school taught
us the Lord’s Prayer and how God is omnipresent, so we could talk to Him
anytime and anyplace.
At that time, I was nine years old
and living in my little comfort zone when my uncle called my father about my
My parents’ generation had gone to
Chinese school but, because of racial discrimination, all Chinese schools in Indonesia were
closed down by the time I was in school. That is why some Chinese Indonesians
can’t speak fluent Chinese nowadays.
After their conversation, my dad
sat me down and asked, “Do you want to be able to speak Chinese and English
fluently?” I replied, “Yes,” and before I knew it, my mom and I were off to Singapore.
Arrangements were made for me to
stay with a homestead mother to act as my guardian. She was about sixty years
old and spoke only Mandarin and Hakka—another dialect in Chinese. Because many
Chinese Indonesian parents send their children to Indonesia to study, this lady
operated a homestead business to accept overseas students.
I felt as if my life had been
turned upside down. In Indonesia,
a family has three servants and a nanny at home to take care of the kids.
Suddenly, I was brought to Singapore,
with no mommy’s kisses or daddy’s smile, and with no one to wait on me. I had
to be independent. I was left with a difficult course load at school and an old
lady at home who could care less for the children staying at her house.
I regretted that I had agreed to
my father. If only I had refused, I would have been able to enjoy my life like
any other ordinary kid in Indonesia.
But I didn’t know that God had a different plan for me.
“JUST COME AND SEE”
The LORD has called Me from the womb;
From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name. (Isa 49:1)
I didn’t know God had chosen me to
be one of His own, but the time came when I was fifteen years old and
approaching my junior year of secondary school.
A friend asked me what my religion
was, and I said both Buddhism and Christianity. She said, “How can you have two
husbands? You have to pick one.” I was shocked. I was still young, why did I
have to think about religion? I really didn’t know how to pick. I just knew
that Jesus is everywhere and that He is invisible. But according to my family,
I was supposed to be a Buddhist.
That night, I prayed on my bed. I crossed
my legs and held up my hand in the Buddhist prayer position. But with my mouth,
I said, “Lord Jesus, I want to pray to you now. Please tell me what my religion
I prayed the way a Buddhist prayed
because I thought I was a Buddhist, but there were no statues related to
Buddhism or pictures of my grandparents in front of me. At the same time, I was
aware that the Lord Jesus is available anytime and anywhere, and I didn’t want
to offend any of the gods. I didn’t know that there was only one God.
Exactly one month after that
prayer God still graciously gave me the answer, though I was ignorant of the
fact that I shouldn’t pray in this way. Two older boys in that house suddenly
invited me to the True Jesus Church. They hadn’t been going to church for two
years, and they suddenly felt like going. So they said to me, “Hey, just come
Immediately, I grabbed three other
girls to come with me. It was a Wednesday night service, and half of the
service was devoted to praying for the Holy Spirit. It was the first time I had
ever stepped into a church, and there was no introduction about speaking in
An amazing thing happened that
night, though. The speaker used almost twenty-five passages and I had never
turned to the Bible before. But that night, every time I had to flip to a verse,
the pages seemed to turn for me. I was always on the right page, the right
chapter, and the right verse. It must be God helping me, I thought.
I had learned in school that when
you pray, you should never peek at your friends. But when it came time to pray
I couldn’t stand it, so I apologized to God and bravely opened my eyes. What I
saw shocked me. Everyone was praying in a loud voice, and they were vibrating
in an orderly manner. I couldn’t understand at all what they were speaking. I
turned to my friend who was beside me. When I looked at her, she said,
After the service, a sister from
the church came to answer my questions about the Holy Spirit and speaking in
tongues. She said that speaking in tongues is speaking in the language of
heaven. I already knew a few languages, and I wanted to learn this one.
The second time I came, there was
a hymnal evangelical service. I was moved to tears. It seemed like the words
sung by the choir were so real and were sung straight from their hearts.
Introduced to the Truth
Despite my experiences, I still had
my doubts and started to shop around for other churches. This time, I narrowed down
my options. I knew I was attracted to Christianity, but I didn’t know which
church I should go to.
I tried a charismatic church.
Their singing was great, but as soon as the preacher started to preach, I
immediately fell asleep. I told God, if I go and I fall asleep again, I won’t
come back. True enough, I went back a second time and fell asleep. I felt the
sermons at the True Jesus Church were more appealing and had more depth. Still,
I struggled with some confusion, gave up, and didn’t go to any church after
Three months later, the sister who
had sat next to me called me up and said, “Hey, our church is organizing a
badminton competition. Do you want to come?” That was my third contact with the
True Jesus Church.
Some members at the competition
were playing badminton, and some were playing basketball. I thought to myself, “How
come all these people call themselves brothers and sisters? Are they related?
How come they seem to be one big family?” My curiosity made me investigate the
That day, the first person who sat
down with me referred to John 3:5, which states: “Unless one is born of water
and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom
of God.” It was very
direct and hard for me to swallow. I also had many questions: “First of all, do
I even want to enter into the kingdom of heaven? What is the purpose anyway? Is
it to be able to speak in an unknown tongue?”
Despite my uncertainties, I knew
that this church offered something really extraordinary. This church had the
abidance of the Holy Spirit.
From then on, I actively searched
into the church. I asked many questions. I learned how to pray to Jesus. I kept
encouraging those three girls who had come with me that first time to come back
to church. Out of the three, one of them accepted the truth.
I thought, since I was the one who
had brought my friends, I should receive the Holy Spirit before them. I thought
God’s principles are the same as ours: First come, first serve. But it turned
out to be the other way around—the first would be the last, and the last would
be the first.
As we prayed together, I could
only repeat “Hallelujah” loudly. But those three girls began to experience the
movement of the Holy Spirit. One of them immediately spoke in tongues. I was
shocked and disappointed at the same time. What’s wrong with me, I thought. Was
it because I hadn’t mastered the Bible well enough?
So I bought a simple NIV Bible and
was determined to read through it. At six o’clock every morning before I went
to school, I would read one to three chapters. Before long I had finished the
I was going to church four times a
week, reading the Bible everyday, and praying loudly in my room daily. Each
time there was a spiritual convocation, I would pray until I lost my voice. I
did all I could to pray for the Holy Spirit. Yet, I still didn’t receive it.
I still had to learn that God has
His own time for everything. All I needed to do was to wait and to keep on
Apparently, my homestead lady
became unhappy because a few of us were praying loudly for the Holy Spirit.
Secretly, she called my parents and told them that I was going to church
everyday, wasn’t studying, was wasting my time, and believed in something very
weird. But it was not true. I studied till late every night, and I only went to
church four times a week; not every day.
That was the beginning of the
persecution of my faith. I was fifteen years old at the time. My parents called
and said they were very upset even though I tried very hard to explain to them.
My mother said to me, “If you plant a watermelon seed, it will grow into a
watermelon tree. If your mother is a Buddhist, then you are a Buddhist for
life, and shouldn’t believe in some Western religion.”
My parents became very angry and
said that if I went to church one more time, they would buy me a one-way ticket
back to Indonesia,
even if school wasn’t finished. Thank God for giving me the strong will to keep
on searching for the truth. In those days, I went to church secretly and prayed
for God to open a way.
Going to church on Sabbath was not
easy for me. Two times a year, I would go back to Indonesia to be with my parents
during the holidays. But during those happy times, I couldn’t go to church on
Saturdays. We would be traveling in a car and passing by the True Jesus Church
building, and my heart wanted to cry out to go to church. Sabbath service might
become a routine and habit for some people, but I know what it’s like not being
allowed to go to service when I wanted to.
Only God could hear my cries and
see the tears in my eyes. My body was in the car, but my soul was worshipping
God with the others at church. He trained me to stand up for what is true. When
everybody else was worshipping my grandparents in the tomb site, I sat in the
car by myself. During Chinese New Year, when everybody brought flowers to burn
incense in the temple, I stayed at home by myself.
To my family and to everybody
else, I was unfilial and foolish. To some, I was crazy. But in my heart was a
burning flame. I knew what I was doing and, just as the title of a familiar
hymn expresses, I know whom I have believed. I would often smile and say to
God, “Lord Jesus, You said I would be blessed when I’m persecuted for Your
name’s sake. I should rejoice and be exceedingly glad.”
RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
The persecution went on but I
continued to pray for the Holy Spirit. By then, two years had gone by and I
still hadn’t received the Holy Spirit. I knew how important it was, and I was
thirsting for it.
I attended the first day of a
student spiritual convocation in June, 1991. The preacher asked all the
students to pray earnestly and persistently. The ministers laid hands on us and,
because so many students would receive the Holy Spirit during prayer, a circle
would be marked on the floor in front of where we knelt, so they would remember
who had received the Holy Spirit.
After we finished praying, I also
had a circle marked. The minister said, “Thank God, you have received the Holy
Spirit.” I quickly stood up and said, “Oh, I haven’t received the Holy Spirit
because I know I was clearly saying ‘hallelujah’ and not speaking in the
spiritual tongue yet.”
Though the preacher kept assuring
me that I had received the Holy Spirit, I kept on denying it, so I did not
receive the Holy Spirit until the next year. It took me three years of praying
before I received the Holy Spirit. I was foolish to doubt God.
On June 2, 1992, I attended the
student spiritual convocation with my friends again. By the first prayer, I
already saw a round circle marked in front of me. At that time, I was surprised
but I didn’t dare to deny the Holy Spirit again. Even though I knew that my
tongue could clearly say “hallelujah,” I did not dare to doubt.
The same preacher told me I had
received the Holy Spirit and that I should keep praying. I didn’t say anything
but just smiled. I knew I had been wrong the previous year, and I didn’t want
to make the same mistake.
During the 4:00 pm prayer, I decided
to change my attitude and mindset. When the prayer began, as usual, everyone
started to pursue earnestly for the Holy Spirit. I also put complete
concentration into my prayer; with the same urgency, thirst, sweat, tears, and
everything in me.
But this time I also did something
different. With my mouth I said “hallelujah,” but in my heart I said to God,
“The preacher said You have given me the Holy Spirit. This time I don’t dare to
doubt. Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit already.”
As soon as I said the word “already,”
my tongue rolled away very, very quickly. I was so shocked that I opened my
eyes. In front of me was a fan that was turning very fast. I thought in my
heart that my tongue was rolling faster than the fan. Another difference in
this prayer was that no tears fell down my cheeks. Instead I was filled with
joy and a stream of happiness flowed from my belly.
The Holy Spirit is truly an
indwelling Spirit. Once we pray for it, it will not leave us and will dwell in
us if we abide in His word. Just as Mark 11:24 states: “Therefore I say to you,
whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you
will have them.”
GOD’S WAYS ARE HIGHER THAN OUR WAYS
Ever since I received the Holy
Spirit, God has made even more changes in my life. First of all, He gradually
changed my character. The Holy Spirit also led me to understand the truth one
step at a time. Finally, in 1994, I braced myself for baptism.
The Holy Spirit had also put it in
my heart to come to study in the U.S.,
after I had been living in Singapore
for eight years. At the time, I didn’t know why God led me to the U.S. through my
prayers and through signs. But now I know why.
As God says in Isaiah 55:9: “For
as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Looking back, if I hadn’t come to
the U.S., I wouldn’t have
been baptized at PacificaChurch in San
Francisco. Maybe I would have kept on living in Singapore.
Maybe I wouldn’t have met my husband nine years ago.
Around the time of my baptism, a
sister was preparing to get married and she said to me, “Getting married is a
very serious matter. It’s as serious as getting baptized. Once you go forward,
you cannot turn back. There is no other man, only this one.” She told me that
if I could make the big decision to get baptized, then getting married should
be my second biggest commitment.
Up to that point, I was only
learning how to make the first commitment, and I was already so afraid. I knew
that if I decided to be baptized in the Lord, I could not turn back. I could
not pray to any other God. All my life I would have to keep myself in the
faith. My attitude, speech, and behavior would have to be in tune with the Lord
Now that I have embraced the first
commitment of baptism, God would also show me His way in my marriage.*
He Saved My Family
Four years after my baptism, I left
PacificaChurch. My mom called me to go back to Indonesia
because violent riots aimed at Chinese Indonesians broke out. Houses, cars, and
properties were burned. Many Chinese and Christians were killed, but God led me
to help my parents—to pray for them and to introduce the Lord Jesus to my
family at the time.
Even though there were
persecutions in my faith, I was moved by the lyrics of a hymn: “though others
may obstruct our way, but in Jesus we will be happy all the day.” And I turned
to Acts 16:30-31:
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and be
baptized, and you will be saved, you and your household…And immediately he and
all his family were baptized.”
The Lord Jesus protected my family
and their business throughout the civil unrests in Indonesia, and they also witnessed
God’s miracles in their lives. During that year, my brother was baptized, and my
parents started to seek the truth. One week before my wedding, my parents were also
baptized in Christ.
Who could foretell that ten years
after I braved myself for baptism, my parents would receive the grace of salvation
and be baptized, too?
We probably hear it all the time,
but I will say it again. Our God is a living God, and everything He said in the
Bible is true.
After we get baptized, our lives
will be totally changed. We belong to God now, and He will see us through our
Christian journey. Through every circumstance and when we encounter turbulences,
God will keep us in perfect peace.
Using human eyesight, it was very
painful for me to leave my parents at the age of nine. But God had a more
wonderful plan in my life. He chose me and gave me something that money cannot
buy—His saving grace.
God also wanted to give my family
this salvation grace; I cannot imagine where I would be now if I did not go
through all that He has blessed me. God has also commissioned us what we are to
do for Him. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we are all here together
(Acts 17:26-27). From different parts of the world with different languages we
worship the same God.
Let us open our hearts, let Him
control our lives, and let Him lead us. Thank God for everything.
May all honor, praise, and glory
be given to His name only!