A voice in my head told me to turn my steering wheel into the church parking lot on a Saturday in November 2001. As I parked and got out of the car, my heart was pounding so hard and fast that I looked up and said “YOU know why I am here!” Truly what I was saying to God at that time was, “I don’t know why I am here, but you know…” Little did I know about what was happening, I just prayed my first prayer to God! Also, little did I know I took my first step towards God by faith!
Prior to this incident, my 16-year old daughter came home twice every two months and told me that her friends go to church. However, she said she wasn’t interested in going to church when asked. I did not take this lightly and started wondering my life as well as the church that was just down the street. One Saturday as I passed by the church, a voice in my head told me to turn my steering wheel into the church parking lot and that act shaped the course of my family’s future.
As I got out of the car and walked up the steps into the church, I was nervous. I saw no one except the janitor, Luigi. I asked whether there was anyone there at church. He said they were all in the basement. I did not dare to go as I worried that if something was missing there, I would be blamed for it. The janitor was very kind and said, “Come with me.” We went downstairs and those who were down there became quiet and they stared at me. An elderly gentleman with a very soft voice approached me and enquired why I was there. I asked about worship and when I found out we shared the same last name, I felt very connected to him. He encouraged me to come to English worship in the following day. Hindsight looking back, God placed two very kind and loving people in front of me to express warmth and encouragement. Praise God for that!
On the next day, Sunday, since my husband had to work, I took both my children to church. I told them to dress in their Sunday best – no running shoes and wearing their dressy clothes. When we got there, my son said, “Mom, I think we are the only ones who dressed up like this.” All the young people were dressed very casually in jeans and T-shirts! I thought, “Oh no!” Nevertheless, it was too late to retreat. We walked bravely into the church. People were very friendly, and there were two young people, Henry and Kitty, who came up to us and shook our hands. Since then, they had been doing this consistently every week when we were there. After the first Sunday worship, my children enjoyed it so much they told Daddy that he too had to attend in the following Sunday since he did not need to work. So you would think this is the start of the whole family going to church? Not quite!
After a few Sundays, my children enjoyed going to church so much that they voluntarily decided to attend Sunday school every Sunday at 9:30 am. That was totally a sigh of bliss for me. I would drop them off at church and I would return home for peace and quiet without the kids for three hours straight. What a joy! Then one day my daughter broke her silence and said “Mom, you cannot just drop us off at church. You must come to church too.” I felt guilty and a bit uneasy. I started returning to church after a few weeks of staying away.
However, I felt I did not need church. I was perfect. There is nothing wrong with me. I was just going for the sake of going. Others need church because they are struggling with something and I am not. One day, a sermon’s message spoke of love for others and giving generously to others. The message convicted me of a lack of sensitivity to what I actually need. It is difficult for me to love others sometimes, and it is difficult for me to give to those whom I do not know. I am often judgmental and I started to realize I might appear okay on the outside but inside I judge others, am jealous of others, and difficult to love others. I preferred to stay home and let the world go by so that I did not have to deal with people and their mannerisms. I slowly realized I needed God to change me. Henry advised me to start reading the four books of Gospels in the Bible. I did and I realized all these books are about Jesus Christ. I read about His death on the cross to bear our sins and His resurrection and believing in Him by faith will lead to an eternal life with Him from now on and forever. I had no idea about the significance of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection until then. How did I not know especially for the fact that I have attended a Roman Catholic school all my life? How is it that no one ever told me this? I knew at that moment I wanted to change for the better but it was impossible to do it on my own but with God’s help through faith in Jesus Christ, all is possible. I confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that Jesus is my Lord and Saviour and that was in 2003. Since then, by God’s grace, my daughter and I were both baptized in 2003. My husband and son got baptized a few years later.
I have hope with the Holy Spirit in me, I can slowly but surely be changed. Even though I still see people as imperfect. However, I am also imperfect and Jesus died for me, so who gives me a right to judge anyone else? If someone annoys me, I try to see them through the eyes of Jesus.
Miraculously, I see many good traits in that person. As a child of God, I praise and thank Him for never abandoning me and forever teaching me what it means to bear His image in me. God does not look what my appearance looks like but care more my inner beauty but what is in my heart. I pray that as children of God we continue to bring glory to His name! Amen.