I first accepted Christ when I was 11 years old.
Before that, I had not felt a deeper meaning in the religion that I had been taught to follow in silence and obedience. So when a close family friend shared the Good News to us within the span of many, many months which included a struggle of faith and conflicting beliefs, and culminated with an invitation to follow Jesus, we all took a step forward and accepted Him — my mother, my sister, and I.
I knew then that my life had changed essentially. As a little girl I didn’t know exactly what that change was, only that I was now living for something greater than myself. And someone up there was looking after me.
Shortly after that, trouble ensued. My aunts and uncles, and even my grandmother confronted my mother and told her how shameful it was that she – that we — decided to “convert to another religion.” They were afraid of what other people might think, and how they would answer if those people asked about us. I stayed behind the scenes as the arguments and confrontations transpired, and I had never witnessed so much anger and sorrow before in my life. My mother said that if we were now the object of shame in the clan, then it would be best if we kept our distance from them. What followed was a long 5-year period of persecution where I never got to see my relatives again.
This all changed eventually, and it was not easy for my aunts and uncles to come to terms with the fact that we didn’t share their kind of faith anymore. But God restored that relationship and touched their hearts to welcome us back, with the understanding that we were no longer the same people. They saw it as a negative change, but we knew that it was the best thing that ever happened to us.
Fast forward 5 years.
I had never belonged to a church, because of complicated reasons. But ever since the day I accepted Christ, I had never stopped thirsting for Him, and apparently, he had never stopped calling out to me. It wasn’t long before God led us to the warmth of the Christian church. It was good to finally feel welcome.
A great tragedy struck my young adult life two years ago, one that was full of pain, disappointment, hatred, frustration, and anger so deep that it beat me down every single day for two straight years. The person who had brought us to Christ, and whom I had looked up to practically my entire life, had been living a life of sin and had become a huge stumbling block. I began to question my faith then. If the man I thought was a man of God is capable of doing all these horrible things, then maybe, just maybe, God was not the God I thought He was.
But the Lord did not allow me to walk any further. There was so much pain in my life, that I realized nobody could fix it but Him. And as a consequence, instead of walking away, I drew closer.
Our senior pastor had been asking me quite persistently to join the Alliance Theological Education by Extension (ALLTEE) for over a year before I decided to go for it. I immersed myself in the ministry and in knowing God, and while I was doing all that, He revealed himself to me in a deep and personal level that has caused me to grow more rapidly and radically in my Christian faith in a span of one year, than all the previous 10 years combined. He bandaged my scars and took away the pain. And now, looking back, I realize that all the while, He had been preparing me for this, to become this person, to reflect His love.
As I look forward to more years in my Christian walk, the ultimate desire of my heart is for God to use me to let others know and realize, that Jesus is the only foundation we can truly rely on. As the hymn goes, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
It is because of the pain and persecution that I experienced in my journey with the Lord that I am able to reach out to others in pain. And in these struggles, we share the cross of Christ and bring others to salvation in Jesus.