I grew up following my family’s religion (of idols and ancestral worship) without any questioning from birth.
Until I was baptised in Wesley Methodist Church on 18 December 2008, I had considered myself an agnostic, or what is commonly referred to as a free-thinker, because I had not seen the need to commit myself and had no inclination towards any particular religion. I also had a few unpleasant encounters with pushy and overly enthusiastic Christians and was turned off by their aggressive evangelism. As a young adult, I enjoyed my life. I often partied till late, was bad-tempered, did not spend enough quality time with my family, and succumbed to temptations and material wants.
I thought I alone could control my life and my future.
I remained stubborn until I attended an Alpha course 1 at Wesley Methodist Church in February 2007. I had gone then because my sister, who was a member and had wished to revisit her Bible knowledge, offered to accompany me. I had no excuse either, as my schedule was free then. I asked many questions and even though I left the weekend retreat halfway, when the prayer session started, I completed the Alpha course!
I got to know more about God around April or May 2007. My younger sister was suffering from cancer. She asked me to help her in the Children’s Ministry where she had been serving (God had already gone ahead of us and planted me as the helper to “inherit” my sister’s legacy where I continue to serve today). As her condition worsened, my brother-in-law, their church friends from Wesley Methodist Church, and I read her favourite daily devotions from Streams in the Desert and passages from the Bible every day as the readings brought her comfort.
Not knowing where to start my reading, I had to do quick catch-ups by regularly flipping through the Bible for encouraging verses. During those times spent with my sister’s friends and my brother-in-law, I learnt about their strong faith and relationship with God. I was especially touched by my sister, who showed remarkable faith, strength, and courage despite her advanced terminal illness. I also marvelled at her husband who was always patient, kind, loving, selfless, and strong. During my sister’s most difficult time in her life, I saw how her Small Group (SG) friends, church friends, and the pastors of Wesley Methodist Church were always present to visit, sit, and pray with my sister. I saw Christ-like characteristics in all these God-loving people. Through them, I experienced what was said in the Scriptures about Jesus’ compassion, faithfulness, and unconditional love.
During my sister’s wake in June 2007, I had a lengthy discussion about the Christian faith with a good friend of my sister and brother-in-law, a SG leader, who invited me to visit their SG meetings. I told him I would try to go only if time allowed. I was concerned about committing to regular meetings and so I did not want to say “yes” readily. However, amazingly, God’s timing is the best and He opened up time slots to avail me to join them. Up until then, never would I have believed that I would one day sing songs of worship or be able to share and pray with strangers. But the grace of God enabled me to take the big step to visit the SG, Jacob’s Well, which has become my spiritual family and where God has led me to be the Assistant Leader today.
Soon, I started joining my brother-in-law and their friends at the Sunday services at their church. I also began praying regularly. In December 2007, I accepted Christ and committed to learning and building my relationship with God so that my sister and I could meet one day again in heaven.
In my SG, I saw how every member is committed, dedicated, helpful, encouraging, patient, and caring. It helps too that many of them are active members of Wesley and serve in various ministries, like the children’s ministry where I’m serving, so we get to see each other in church every Sunday. As a person who never particularly enjoyed hanging around kids, I was surprised by how much I came to enjoy sharing about God with the children at Sunday School. My understanding of God and the Bible were also refined in the process. The knowledge, faith, and relationship with God have motivated me to open my heart to know God better. The well-planned SG programmes every Friday allowed me to learn systematically and answered my questions about the Christian faith. I often feel that my Fridays are fruitful and well-spent.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Looking back, during our family’s journey with my sister’s fight against cancer, we did not complain, blame God, or turn our back on Him then. Even though my parents were not believers then, we prayed quietly and trusted that He would either deal us a miracle or remove her suffering and pain. To non-believers, it may seem like God denied our pleading when He took her home. But strangely, it now seems to me that He had bigger plans for us: my family’s salvation was brought about through my sister’s illness. I know that my sister had wanted our family to be saved, and perhaps that was God’s way of answering my late sister’s prayers for our family’s salvation. Life is often a mystery and God’s ways are always better than our plans. We can never comprehend His infinite wisdom.
In 2008, one-and-a-half years after my sister passed on, God had softened my heart, and the Holy Spirit guided me to draw closer to God. In His timing, I was naturally moved to want to be baptised and have been learning so much since (especially the important fundamentals) through Baptism & Membership Class. My mother was baptised a few years after my sister’s passing. In February 2017, my father passed away and we believed he was saved too.
I believe that God has answered some of my prayers, though some are not as I expected. I believe He has a purpose for us all and has mapped it all out.
My family and I have seen and been through pain and suffering. My sister’s death brought me pain but it was also through this that I could come to Christ. With God as the beacon of light in my life, I will continue on in my journey of faith, in His redeeming grace.
1.Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha is organised in Wesley once in a year through small groups.