I grew up in a traditional Taiwanese family who worshiped our ancestors, gods and goddesses. My mother would prepare food for them, said prayers while burning incense sticks, and burn ritual paper money to appease gods and ancestors for health and prosperity. We occasionally visited temples of different gods to pray and burn more incense and ritual paper money. My impression of the religion at that time was that we’d better do all the necessary rituals or they would come after us. I once asked my mother why we were doing all this; she said that was what her mom and everybody else did. It’s better to do it than not do it. Fear was the reason why we did it.
My first exposure to Christianity happened on my way to elementary school. Someone handed me a gospel track which contained a picture of this verse: Matthew 7:13-14 – 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” I didn’t understand at that time being a 10 year old girl, but the message impressed my young heart.
In high school, a friend invited me to church on Christmas Eve. She shared the things of Jesus with me after the program. I told her that my family worshiped ancestors and it wouldn’t work for me. It was great that Christianity worked for her. She didn’t pursue more but made me promise to ask God’s Holy Spirit to come to my heart. I did what I promised her asking the Holy Spirit to come to my heart that very night. OK, no harm done.
A year after my high school graduation, I boarded a plane to Toronto following a friend of mine. She took me to church where the Taiwanese pastor became my guardian before meeting me. I started going to the church regularly as a favor to the pastor. There I met a family who really loved me as their own. They gave me Bible and praise tapes; they showed me love without preaching. That was when I started looking into the book and listening to the tapes. I started to try this God thing. I would pray and see if this God would answer. Amazingly, He did!
When I moved to Los Angeles, I continued to go to church and was baptized in 1993. Life was good; I was even a deaconess of missions at one time. I went to church regularly and I was involved in a lot of church activities. I thought I was a good Christian doing all the necessary “rituals” like when I was a child.
I wasn’t prepared for 1995, the worst and best year of my life. I had a depression so server that I couldn’t eat nor sleep. Suicide was constantly in my mind because I thought that was the only way to get out the pain. What held me back was the idea that God wouldn’t be pleased with me if I murdered myself. I hid my conditions well enough that no one knew about my depression. When I was alone, crying out to God was my only way to cope. Reading the Bible and praying to Him started to heal my broken soul. During this time, I was awed by this God of the universe who wants to pursue a love relationship with me. I didn’t have to do all the rituals to get His love and blessings. He already loved me by sending Jesus to die in my place before I knew Him. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; no as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” His love started to become a reality and He healed my brokenness. When I got out of my depression, I realized that I used to know Him by head knowledge, my way. The experience of depression helped me to know Him in my heart. Christianity is no longer a religion; it’s a personal relationship with God who loves and saves. I was forever changed; I was born again. 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
My life since then has its ups and downs. I am still a work in-progress. I often wondered what my life would be like if I didn’t know this God. One thing I know for sure, I wouldn’t be here today to share this with you. Perhaps my life would have ended 20 years ago. John 3:16 says that God loves us so much that He gave us Jesus, so instead of perishing, we’ll have eternal life with Him in heaven. Would you like to know more about His great love for you? I would love to share more with you if you are interested.