I was born in Malaysia a year after we got our independence from the British. Born in a “Christian” environment, I was exposed to the Bible at our Sunday School at the Gospel Hall in Ipoh (pronounce Ee-poh), from a very early age. However, I was naughty. I can’t remember any lessons that I was taught at Sunday School, nor any Scripture verses. As I grew up, there was a resentment in going to the Sunday School. Even while there physically, my mind was elsewhere and was constantly up to mischief. It wasn’t unusual for me to be reprimanded for my inept behaviour. I suppose if I were to put my finger on my problems when I was young and rebellious – it is that I was told that I was naughty. I was told to change, to grow up, to ‘behave’, and yet I was powerless. Clearly the truth was that I was a sinner and I needed a message of saving grace, not remedial measures. I wasn’t a sinner because I did evil. I did wrong because I was a sinner. It showed the my evil nature within was traceable to a problem before I was born. All the way back to the garden of Eden.
I was fortunate that I had a grandmother that prayed for me. When she visited our home, she’d share my room. It was then that I felt uncomfortable. Going into my room at night I would find her on her knees. If ever I stirred in the early hours of the morning, it was because she was up at 5 am and on her knees to her Father. As she grew older, her eye-sight deteriorated and I was made to read the Bible with her and for her. I didn’t like all of this as I was a careless young boy being pricked in my conscience. It left a lasting impression on me. In later years after I got saved, I read a tract entitled “A Mother’s Prayer” which rekindled my memory of those early years of exposure to a praying grandmother.
I remember one notable incident in my schooling years at 16 years of age. At the commencement of every year, the teacher would call out each student, ask them to state their date of birth, race, religion, etc. This teacher seemed to know me more than I knew myself. And when it came to my turn, I answered as I’d always answered – that I was a Chinese and a Christian. I was rather taken aback when she asked how I knew I was a Christian. I shrugged my shoulders. I’d never thought about it before. I later asked someone about it and was given this reply. “Your parents go to church. They are Christians. You go to church, it follows – you must be a Christian.” I went away satisfied with that answer but I was so wrong. I learnt later that one cannot inherit Christianity; not from the nation, nor from one’s family. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit … Ye must be born again” John 3:6.
I was active in sports during those years. It was then that I discovered that a fellow sportsman got “saved”. He was steering towards the teachings of the Seventh Day Adventist and the JW’s but his enthusiasm and his keen study of the Bible showed me up for the fake that I was. Without actually knowing it, this incident sparked a challenge in me to discover my professed Christianity.
Shortly after, I was invited to a camp for young Christians. Still living this fake Christian life, I attended this camp. While there I was taught how to lead others to Christ. What a fallacy it was – but I didn’t really know then that I wasn’t saved – I look back amazed that I was so foolish. How true that “the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2Cor 4:4). On one of those nights, we were taken to the YMCA to help out as counsellors in a Gospel Campaign. It was there that I heard the Gospel for the first time. My first known exposure to the Gospel made clear all the issues of my heart. I realised then that I was a guilty sinner but Jesus died for me. In later years, I was to learn how critical an immediate response is. Procrastination is the thief of souls. So many who neglect God’s prompting rising in their heart, grow callous to the Gospel call. Like Felix in the Bible, they say “when I have a convenient season” (Acts 24:25). “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2Cor 6:2).
I HEARD the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast,
I came to Jesus as I was-Weary, and worn, and sad;
I found in Him a resting place, And He has made me glad.
I can remember the speaker asking for those interested in being saved to show their hands and then to go forward to the front of the hall. I was petrified, I’ve never been comfortable with emotional surroundings. I didn’t move, but where I was seated I closed my eyes and prayed (For I felt sure the Invisible God would see the contrite heart before Him). This was not unusual, as all in the hall had their heads bowed. I am very glad that my salvation didn’t depend on my physical posture or actions. For He saved me just where I was seated.
Now, long after the emotion has passed, I can look back to that point when I first heard the Gospel and there I accepted Christ as my own Saviour. In the ensuing days, there were numerous times when I asked Christ into my heart, as if I wanted to be sure that I was truly saved. But I was saved once, I just had to learn the certainty of it. “… whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), “He that hath the Son hath life” (1John 5:12). It wasn’t anything that I had done, but rather the finished work of Christ saved me.
From then on, I was a new creature. Old things passed. I was keen to read the Scriptures. I found I had power over some sinful practices. It testified of the power of the Holy Spirit that every born again Christian possesses. We have a resource linked to heaven.
Two years later, at 18 years of age, I left home to study in England. God kept His eye on me and guided me to discover my weaknesses, and helped me focus my attention to the things which are above where Christ sitteth (Col 3:1). I learned the preciousness of gathering to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and I learned to appreciate that the assembly is “the pillar and the ground of the truth” (1Tim 3:15).
In later years I met up with that sportsman colleague that first aroused my awareness to my hypocrisy. What a reunion it was. To think that after 9 years of no contact; we had both gone our separate ways geographically (he to Australia and me to the UK), learned the Scriptures individually, but learned of the importance of meeting with the same group of Christians. He had concluded himself that the earlier impulses that he had were wrong and was now convicted in the simple principles of the Christians that gather to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It proves the point that the seeking Sinner and the seeking Saviour will always meet.
But God hasn’t finished with me yet…. Daily I battle against powers of wickedness in the skies – all traceable to the Devil. Often I fail and grieve the Lord whom I serve. But soon the day will break; this groaning sinful body will give place to a body of glory. Not for me only but for all those who have trusted in Christ. The sky, not the grave is our goal – We “wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, [our Deliverer from the coming wrath]” (1Th 1:10).
God could not pass the sinner by,
His sins demand that he must die,
But in the Cross of Christ I see
How God can save yet righteous be.