Yesterday marked by far the most important day of my life! 12/03/2013. The date that I would remember for the rest of my life, the date that is so significant I couldn't bear to forget, the date that I got dunked into the water, signifying the death of the old self and the reborn of the new self, with a brand new flashy identity in Christ. Yes I have been baptised, with a grateful heart to my Lord Jesus Christ, and Equippers Church London City, the church that I have rooted in. Together being baptised with me were another 4 faithful children of God (Cherrie, Alicia, Joann and Dominique). Congratulations people! Well done for taking this significant step of faith! Thanks Pastor Mark and everyone involved! x)
I was being told to share a testimony prior to being baptised, but I wasn't quite ready. I first started with my past stories. I was a child growing up in a typical Chinese family with Taoism belief or rather free thinker, being cultivated in an environment full of self taught values. However, amidst of good values being taught, all sorts of bad values were picked up as well. I was being raised as a self-centered person, a proudful boy thanks to my little intelligent brain who always topped the class in primary school, yet a rebellious and naughty boy who often sneaked out to KLCC/Jusco (shopping malls) just to buy toys with stollen money/steal toys. I was lucky enough to escape each stealing attempt. I used to think only of my own advantages, and deploy any practical strategy just to satisfy my desires.
I then went on to tell how I came to know Christ, when I was 13. It was when my best friend/classmate back then (Noah) invited me to my school's Christian Fellowship weekly meeting. Ever since I decided to stay, to be very honest, credit to the refreshment and friends that I got to know. I didn't have many friends back then and I was an introvert, so I really appreciate the company of CF friends. Unfortunately I did not appreciate the Words back then as I thought it was boring. I am Chinese educated, and listening/reading to English words as my second language did not seem quite appealing to me, at such a young age. I also enjoy listening to worship/praise songs, and it has since became one of my favourite past time activities. I also like to think excessively (often unnecessarily), and used to be skeptical on the existence of God. There are just too many miracles performed in the Bible, many of which seem ridiculously illogical, that oppose the law of physics.
Little did I realise, God has planted a seed in my heart. I started to attend Sunday Service in a local church, also primarily for the same reasons (friends, hang out, etc), until the day I transferred to a boarding school when I was 16. When I was in the boarding school, I seldom read the Bible nor I pray often. I only pray occasionally when I was facing an exam, or when I was in deep trouble (rare). I was viewing God as a 'tool' for me, to alleviate my worries and restore my heart whenever I face disappointments/rejections. I was accustomed to rely on my own strengths to solve problems. Since Christian God is the most easily accessible and also the one that I'm most familiar with due to years of exposure, I decided to pray to Him, instead of other Gods (if they even existed).
I was separated from the House of God for almost 3 years, when I was finally invited back to a local church called Acts. I was in college by then, with a prestigious oversea scholarship award secured under my belt. I was being really thankful to Bank Negara (Central Bank of Malaysia) for awarding me such golden opportunity, but I also realised I had been missing out an important part of my life -- God. I started to attend Acts Church, but due to my priority placed in study greater than God, I did not sign up for any dream team to serve Him. Although I kept declaring myself as a Christian, occasionally I would still feel detached from God due to many tough circumstances. I still occasionally lived a sinful hell-like life, with God's presence only on Sunday. God was not my first priority.
"Have you been baptised?" That was the question occasionally popped up to me and I will gladly answered "No". Gladly? I was glad not to be baptised, as I thought there is no turning back once I have been baptised. Later in life I learnt that there is not much difference whether you have been baptised or not, but whether you have received the Word of God and acted upon it, that matters. But God continued to pour out His grace in abundance upon me, despite me not being obedient. God continued to answer my prayers, continued to work wonders in my life especially in academic. I managed to secure a place in my dream university to pursue my dream course, and here I am, in London.
Here is the bit that I believe I have missed out yesterday when I was sharing testimony. I started attending Equippers Church London City, and I believe I have grown so much more rooting here. No it's not a big church like Hillsong, All Souls etc, but this small church is precisely the reason that I found myself growing tremendously. In a big church there are just too many people, and it may seem that your presence can be redundant, in the sense that it wouldn't make much significant impacts with or without you in church (unless you were a leader). I found myself serving God in Equippers much more than when I was in Acts, and from within I found joy. Yes serving God is indeed one of the most joyous things you can do.
You will tend to feel more significant when you are given a responsibility to bear or a role to play (even a small one), and I really like that feeling. Maybe God has put in me the ability to lead others with wisdom. Even in my course, I played a few roles:
1) Team Manager of 2 teams for Actuarial Method presentations
Result: Both presentations went really well, and we were applauded by the invited guest
2) Team Captain of Phoenix team for Probability & Statistics League
Current Progress: Topping the League with 4 wins and 1 draw (2 matches more to go).
Praise God for all these achievements!
I believe many people around my age (20s) are still searching for their identities, by getting involved in certain groups or events mostly to find a sense of belonging, me is not excluded. But I'm really happy to declare that I have found it. I realised that my identity can only truly be found in Christ, as His lovely child and faithful servant. I learnt that I need not to worry of any challenges, as He has assured me that He will always be there for me. One thing that I can testify is, God never failed to provide whenever I pray for something. Whenever I face problem, God will just reveal His ways, so often in ways that I could not have thought of on my own.
I used to be arrogant, impatient, self-centered and everything bad that you can name it, I have had it in me. I used to hate shopping with friends as I was a very impatient person. I used to break many rules when I thought rules are meant to be broken (of course only to a certain extent that will not put me in deep trouble). I used to think the universe centered around me (what a narcissist!). But God just came into my life, and everything changed ever since. I learnt that God detests pride as it is the root of all evil. God gave me patience and as patience being developed, I see more fruitful results. Breaking rules? I admit I still occasionally break rules (traffic rules in particular) but there are many times that Holy Spirit just keep reminding me to obey the rules, to be more considerate and uphold safety first. God has transformed my life so much as time goes by. Praise God for these transformations!
Just a few weeks ago, I was presented this opportunity to be baptised by Equippers, and after praying to God, I decided to make this personal leap of faith. My inner voice just subconsciously agreed to the idea of being baptised, without much strength of refusing.
Post Baptism Thoughts:
A few of my friends asked me if there is any difference before and after the baptism. Physically there is no difference. However, spiritually there is. I finally feel the sense of belonging. I am belong to God. Often times I felt detached simply because I did not have the sense of belonging to God. I felt that God had abandoned me when He was in fact secretly watching me from above, making sure that I will pull it through every challenge and make wise decisions. I failed to realise the only missing element in my life was baptism until a few weeks ago, but thank God now it has been restored.
Indeed the walk of Christian faith is not meant to be taken alone, but with a group of God's people who are always there to support one another. The strength of a group of people with God's favour would definitely sustain anything coming their way, lead them towards achieving victories.
Now, I'm officially a man of God, with a heart of child like faith! Praise the Lord!
Here I will end this post with one of my favourite Scriptures.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."-Jeremiah 29:11
This is just the beginning.