I was born into a non-Christian family. My late father was a Taoist and my mother was a Buddhist. I was first exposed to the gospel when I was around 9 years old. My parents had just gone through a divorce then, and I was pretty much a latchkey child given that my mum had to work to support my brother and I. I remember a few instances of my older cousins coming to my house to share the gospel with me through children’s Christian books, but I did not understand the meaning of the gospel then. Around that same time, my mother, presumably not wanting my brother and I to be at home unsupervised on weekends, would send us to Sunday school at a Baptist church. It was during that period that the seeds of the gospel were planted in my heart. However, as the parable of the sower (Matthew 13) goes, those seeds were planted by the wayside, “… then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.” (Matt 13:19).
My late childhood and adolescence were emotionally trying years as I grappled with many personal issues. Externally, I fared well in school, but my inner man was a very unhappy one. All the joy that the world could offer was transient, and I often found myself dwelling on existential questions, pondering over the meaning of life, the meaning of suffering, who God is and what is the purpose of living.
When I entered Junior College, a friend brought me to a charismatic church where I started to spend a lot of my time at. In that church, their doctrine was a very man-centred one - focusing on hyper-grace, the prosperity doctrine and how God wants to bless man if man would “give” to God. Over time, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the preaching, the culture and the peer pressure in the church. At the end of my Junior College days, I left the church feeling angry and disillusioned at the way the church was run like an enterprise.
During my university days, I visited some churches of my friends (most of which were charismatic) but I did not have the peace to settle in them. At that point, I was not truly saved yet, because I had not fully accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour. After I graduated and entered the workforce, I was at one of the lowest points of my life. I knew that God exists, and I knew, cognitively, that Christ died on Calvary to save us from our sins, but I did not know why Christ would want to save us, and what is the purpose of us continuing to live in the midst of all of life’s hardships. I seriously contemplated ending my life and made a plan to do so after completing my scholarship bond because I did not want to leave behind an unpaid bond or debt for my family. I did not speak a word about this to anyone.
Somehow, in the course of my work in 2010, I came across a volunteer who made a generous donation to help one of my needy clients financially. When I asked him what made him help this family, he shared with me about his Christian faith, that we are sinners saved by grace in Christ and hence after we are saved, our purpose is to be a witness for God and to share the gospel. I was reminded of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19–20, and that after salvation we are supposed to share the gospel of Christ which is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom 1:16). It also brought to mind 1 John 3:16–18, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” To be honest, the message was not something new for I had heard it on the pulpit, but they were all cognitive knowledge and not experiential knowledge. Somehow, at that moment, everything just made sense to me and passages like Acts 13:47, “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth”, and Matthew 5:14–16, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”, came alive for me. I would never forget that peace and lightness that I felt that day. It was as if a veil of darkness was taken off me, and a heavy burden was lifted. I accepted Christ not just as my Saviour, but also as Lord over my life. He did not just save me from my sins then left me to figure out my life and to fend for myself in the world; but is truly my Lord, and He has a purpose and a calling for me. I repented of my thoughts about ending my life, and I committed my heart to wanting to live a life that would glorify our Father in heaven, and honour His name.
From that moment on, I felt that my inward self was transformed and my life’s focus completely changed in various ways:
Firstly, I acquired a sense of peace, joy and comfort which I never had previously, and this stemmed primarily from the realisation of God’s love for us in Christ, and my identity as a child of God. Romans 8:37–39 was a very moving passage for me, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As I learn to acknowledge and trust in His being, power, wisdom and goodness over every aspect of my life, I come to anchor my security and confidence in God, knowing that He is in control of everything in our lives. The realisation of His sovereignty and His providence for His children was a very comforting and assuring news for me. As I tend to be a perfectionist towards myself and tend to be anxious when things do not go well, I also learnt to trust in the Lord and cast my cares onto Him (1 Pet 5:7). Whenever I am sad, or anxious or worried, I can always look to the promises of God in passages like Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”, and Philippians 4:6–7, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.
Secondly, I also developed a love for God’s Word. At the point of my salvation, I was not ready to return to any church yet, so I did much of the studying on my own by reading passages of Scripture and going through Bible commentaries. It was then that I came to realise, for the first time, how superficial and corrupted the teachings from my previous charismatic church was. By the mercies of God and the leading of His Spirit which knows and teaches us spiritual things (1 Cor 2:10–13), I began to see the sanctifying effect of His Word in my life as I learnt to examine my own heart, be patient and humble, and reset my priorities in life. Since then, the Bible is the key source of my comfort in my affliction, as I learn to turn to God’s Word for encouragement, for instruction, for direction in times of trouble. Although I subsequently did settle in another local church, which I thought was conservative in nature, I came to see how it too gradually became increasingly ecumenical and charismatic, with the introduction of “contemporary” worship services and even false teachings such as the speaking in tongues through the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. When I came to know the fundamental BP churches and read about the defence of the Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP), I was very heartened and I sincerely felt like I had found gold in my life! As 2 Timothy 3:16–17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”, I thank God that He has preserved a remnant of churches that remain faithful to His Word that we may be sanctified by His truth.
Thirdly, an important change that I went through was a new goal and renewed purpose in life. After my salvation, one of the first things I did was to constantly pray for the salvation of my mother, who was then a Buddhist. I recall my family often mocking at me whenever I tried to share the gospel with them. Nonetheless, by the grace and mercy of God, with perseverance and in hope, my mother eventually renounced her Buddhist faith and accepted Christ in 2016 and was baptised. While salvation is of the Lord (Eph 2:8–9; Ps 3:8; Tit 3:5), we have a human responsibility to share the gospel of Christ with others and also to be a good witness for Christ. As Jesus had said to the man with the unclean spirit after He had delivered him from demons in Mark 5:19, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” As I am truly grateful for the compassion and the gift of salvation when I was walking in darkness, I sincerely hope that unbelievers around me will come to receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour too. At my workplace, in my contact with patients, families and colleagues, I started looking out for opportunities to share my faith in Christ whenever appropriate, “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3:15). I also try to find other fellow believers at the workplace so that we can provoke one another unto love and good works (Heb 10:24) and help each other to grow together “in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18).
As the hymn “Amazing Grace” by John Newton goes, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound; That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see.” The lyrics of this hymn always reminds me of where I had come from and how much my life has changed since my conversion. I believe all of us may have our unique redemptive experiences to tell, but our stories will all point to the same Redeemer, who is Christ Jesus, and how merciful and wonderful He is in saving sinners like us. The point of salvation is where our witnessing and our progressive sanctification begin, may we put off the old man and “put on the new man” (Eph 4:22–32), “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1), and be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58) so that He may be magnified and glorified. Lin Jingyi
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