Today, I would like to share about the different stages of my life of faith: 1) before my encounter with the True Jesus Church, 2) when I first stepped into a True Jesus Church and 3) after I believed in the True Jesus Church. At different stages, I have been cared for and loved in different ways. Therefore, I would like to reflect and share with you what I have learned.
Before my encounter with the True Jesus Church, I was lucky to have many friends telling me about God. This helped sow the seed of Christianity in my heart.
My earliest memory of Christianity was in my primary school days. Year after year, a friend would invite me to her church for special events during Christmas time but I had never once attended. Then, when I was 16 years old, I went to Singapore to study for 2 years. I stayed at a Presbyterian school’s hostel and many of my friends at the hostel were Christians who invited me to their churches. I have been to many different denominations of churches like Methodist, Catholic, Protestant, etc. After that, I went to the U.K. to further my studies. When I was in university, one of my course mates invited me to the True Jesus Church and that was the first time I stepped into a True Jesus Church.
Looking back now, I am very thankful as there were so many friends that tried to introduce God to me. My friends were all sowing seeds in my heart. To my primary school friend whose invitation I never accepted, she may have thought that she was a total failure as her invitation was not accepted. But until today, I can still remember her sincere invitation. I was interested to attend but I just could not, as my family members were not Christians, and they did not allow me to attend. To me, her invitation was not in vain as I can remember it until today and I feel that the seed of Christ was sown in me from then. It helped me to be more receptive to Christianity later on as she was a nice person and I had a good impression on Christians from her.
If none of my friends had tried telling me about Christ, I would not have been a Christian today. I am thankful that they took the effort to tell me about Christ. And now that I know Christ, I feel that I have to tell people about God regardless of whether there is any immediate result.
When I first stepped into a True Jesus Church, I was surprised that the church was so accepting of a total stranger like me. They loved and treated me as family. That kept me going to church and I eventually got baptized.
When I first started going to True Jesus Church, I did not go because I was seeking for God. I merely went because I got invited. I was studying in Southampton and went to True Jesus Church in Portsmouth. My deepest impression then was the love of the members there. They accepted me and loved me. They invited me often to their homes to stay overnight. They treated me as family. Without failure every week, a church member would hold a special one on one Bible study to explain the Bible to me. They invited me to sing with them in their youth choir. A church sister would always sit beside me and turn the Bible for me during services. If I did not turn up to church, they would call to check on me to see how I was doing. They even arranged transportation for me to go to church.
The church encouraged and invited me to join a 3 week students theological course that was held during summer holidays in Edinburgh church in Scotland. During the theological course, I started to understand more about the salvation of God and I became resolved to get baptized.
I now feel compelled to love and care for the friends that come to our church regardless of their motives. We have many new friends consistently coming for services. So I often ask myself, “Have I touched them with my love to make them want to continue coming to church?”
After I believed in Jesus, a group of youths cared for me, gave me the opportunity to serve God, made me feel needed and guided me to find my place in the church.
After I graduated from my studies in the UK, I returned to Malaysia. I started going to Petaling Jaya church. There was a group of very zealous youths staying in church then. They would drive the church van and go around picking up students and people without transportation to attend night services. When I went to church early, I would notice a church brother cleaning up the church hall and then kneeling down to pray for 30 minutes before service. Actions speak louder than words. Seeing someone actually pray and serve God in secret is a lot more powerful than hearing a sermon speaker telling you that you should pray. I started to learn from the youths how to serve God. They were constantly discussing about the lost sheep in the church or how to lead more friends to church. They invited me to follow them to visit members, to care for students who just came to study and to care for the sick in the hospital. They asked me to help out in Religious Education. I was too nervous then and often I got stressed when assigned some tasks and even chickened out from the task given. Even when I did not do well, they continued to guide me. When assigned a task, the youths gave me articles to read and went through the topic with me first before the actual service.
This group of youths knew the importance of training members up to be workers of God. They first cared for me and then slowly guided me to develop my own relationship with God. They taught me how to care for others and serve others. They taught me how to lead a prayerful life and to take care of the church. They gave me the opportunity to participate in divine work and had the patience to train me to do the work. They made me feel needed and I eventually found my place in church.
After I believed in God, if I had not found my place in church, I would have probably slowly drifted away from the church. I was thankful that this group of youths gave me the opportunity, encouraged me and taught me how to lead a life of faith and to serve God.
Now, it is my turn to share whatever little I know about serving God to members who have a strong desire to serve God. I believe that if members feel needed, it would make them even more zealous. It certainly did for me.
To bring someone to church, we must first extend the invitation. Extending an invitation is like sowing seeds. If the person giving out the invitation is someone that the friend trusts and knows, the likelihood of accepting the invitation is higher. However, the focus should not be on the result, as in whether anyone comes to church. If it is so, you will get disappointed and stop. The focus should just be whether you are inviting and telling people about God. We will not know when the seed will sprout but I believe that the work will never be in vain.
If we have actually tried inviting our friends to church before, the chance of people accepting the invitation and coming is actually not very high. If someone actually comes because of an invitation or just walks into our church, this is very precious and the seed sowed is sprouting. We should then show love and acceptance to these friends.
If these friends eventually come to get baptized, they may not have the habit of praying daily. They may be full of zeal and want to help out with things in the church but do not know what to do. We should then guide them, help them and let them slowly find their own relationship with God.