My story begins with my parents who grew up in very tumultuous times in southern China. My father recalls the horrors of WWII, when as a boy, poverty-stricken, starving,and terrified, he ran from enemy aircraft flying overhead strafing innocent civilians with machine gun fire and dropping destructive ordnances1 on buildings in the city. Likewise, my mother vividly recounts the rise of that oppressive communist regime, when as a young girl growing up in a wealthier family, she witnessed her family wealth stripped away, the persecution, beating and imprisonment of adult family members, and the public executions of criminals forced to kneel on the ground only to receive a bullet in the back of the head. Such brutality, and horror--all designed to instill fear and loyalty to the Communists as they repeated such atrocities in poor peasant villages throughout China.
While it immensely horrifies me to hear of such tragedy befalling my parents in their youth I am thankful that God used these circumstances for His Glory. Given such turmoil, the idolatrous practices such as Buddhism, and ancestral worship, practiced by my ancestors for generations never took a firm grasp on my parents. Years later, my parents ultimately found their way to Canada where they met, married and had three children: my two older sisters, and myself. Presently, my parents are yet unsaved, but I'm happy to say that my two sisters and I are born again, John 3:3.
Growing up in Vancouver, I can remember as early as Grade 1, knowing that God existed, Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1. Three key factors played a significant role in this realization. Number one, my kindergarten teacher made us say Grace before both snack-time and nap-time. Second of all, the Bible was still read in public schools at the start of classes in the morning. Thirdly, Sunday shopping was still unheard of back then. There was still an evident fear of God in Canada at that time--it's sad to think how much things have changed today.
Concerning God, two prevalent thoughts permeated my 6-year old mind: 1) don't take the Lord's Name in vain, and 2) if you want to get to Heaven be as well-behaved as possible, otherwise Satan will drag you down to Hell. (NOTE: People who reject God's Salvation end up in Hell, not because of Satan. This misconception likely arose from cartoons portraying the devil, having pointy ears and a pitch-fork, being the ruler of Hell.) Moreover, I recall moments when my classmates asked me that age-old question: Do you believe in God? My reply, of course, was "Yes!" I am thankful today, that even at such a young age I had a fear of God and a desire to be in Heaven, Proverbs 1:7.
Looking back, I know now that the Spirit of God was dealing with me through circumstances, John 16:8. For instance, I remember two occasions when accompanying my mother I came across a little Gospel paper or tract containing a Bible message about Salvation. The first time was at the annual Summer Fair, where I picked up a tract left behind on a chair having illustrated scenes of Heaven and Hell. Similarly, the second occasion was when I picked up a tract left behind on a bench at a bus-stop. In both cases, despite being too young to read most of the words, I recognized that they were documents of value containing the "words of eternal life" so I kept these papers.
At about the same time, my oldest sister brought me out one morning to Children's Meetings conducted in a tent pitched near our home. It was there at that meeting, sitting in the front with the other young children, that I learned my very first Bible verse: John 14:6.
Still thinking that Heaven could be obtained by "being good", I tried to be well-behaved at all times. I quickly came to the realization that this was impossible--I was always doing something to "mess-up", Psalm 14:3, Romans 3:23. Recognizing that Heaven was out of reach and Hell would be my ultimate destination, I lay awake one night in bed crying. With my parents both working at the family restaurant, my second oldest sister was at home baby-sitting me and she came into my room inquiring about my sorrow. With tears in my eyes, I told her that I wanted to get to Heaven, but I didn't know how. She then invited me to learn about God, the Lord Jesus, and Salvation in the Sunday School where both she and my oldest sister were attending after being invited by a high school friend. So the next Sunday, having obtained permission from my parents, I left with my sisters to the Victoria Drive Gospel Hall Sunday School.
For a time, my fears of being punished in Hell for my sins subsided as I knew that I was on the right track by going to Sunday School. However, my Sunday School attendance by no means mitigated my situation of being a sinner deserving the judgment of God. Like so many today that think they are Christians because of their church attendance, had I died at that time, my soul would be lost in Hell and ultimately in the Lake of Fire for all eternity. I do recall, though, moments when I discussed Salvation with my oldest sister who was saved at the time. She would tell me things like "believing that Jesus is my Saviour" and that "He died for me" were identical truths which would result in a person being in Heaven when he or she dies.
Then one Sunday afternoon, whether it was a special speaker or a regular Sunday School class--I'm not quite sure, it was clearly stated that in order to escape the judgment of God in the Lake of Fire for all eternity, one needed to personally accept Christ as Saviour. The Spirit of God used that lesson to remind me of why I started attending Sunday School: I wanted to get to Heaven. It troubled me greatly that I didn't have a clear moment in my life when I repented of my sins and trusted Christ for Salvation. I returned home that Sunday afternoon determined to get the matter of my soul's Salvation settled--nothing else mattered. I went into my room, shut the door behind me, looked up at the sky, and confessed out-loud to God,
I'm a sinner!
I need to be saved!
I believe that Jesus died for me!
Just like the air we breathe, I understood that Salvation was a necessity. As a result, I can say quite honestly that I didn't feel any real sense of joy at that moment like you hear when others profess faith in Christ. For me, being saved was not an option--it was (and is) mandatory. John 3:7 tells us "Ye MUST be born again."
Keeping things of value a secret was always something I had done, so I never told anyone for quite sometime that I had gotten saved. Moreover, no one told me that it's a good idea to write down the date of my salvation either, so I never did. As a result, I don't know the exact date I was saved. However, one evening after having dinner at his residence with my classmates, I told my Sunday School teacher during the car ride back home that I had gotten saved. Once home, I promptly wrote down that date: May 13, 1984.
To conclude, what should be evident from my testimony is that church attendance cannot save. Neither good works, nor feelings, nor a date in time can save--only Christ can, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23. Repent of your sins, accept that when Christ died upon the Cross He died to pay the penalty for your sins personally, and you too can be a possessor of eternal life.
1 Ord·nance (ôrd'nens), n. 1. artillery. 2. military weapons with their equipment, ammunition, etc.