Hello everyone, my name is Arnold and I’m currently a first year student studying Mathematics in Waterloo. I would like to share about how I came to learn about Christianity and my decision to get baptized today.
Even as close as half a year ago, I knew relatively nothing about the Christian faith. Throughout my high school years, I felt very lost and didn’t even know myself too well. Growing up, I had a lot of compassion. But over time, this feeling had diminished; I felt like there wasn’t anyone I could actually give it to. I never really became close to anyone at school and became very isolated. Soon, I became very unmotivated at school as well. I was always thinking, “Why am I doing all of this?” I felt no real sense of fulfillment and didn’t really know what I was trying to accomplish. Eventually, I became so stressed that I didn’t even want to continue anymore. In the middle of my Grade 11 year, I had just stopped going to school entirely. Coming back to school the following year, I got a lot of questions about it. Whenever someone would ask about why I had been gone for the entire year, I kind of just avoided the question. I felt like there was no way that I could share about it, especially to the same people who I’ve known for years, yet have been so distant with.
The first time I came here was in August. It’s something that I never would have expected at all. Sometime just before the summer retreat, Paul asked me if I wanted to go. It seemed very foreign to me; I felt like if I had gone, I’d be a complete outsider. I decided to put my trust in him anyways and took a leap of faith. And now, I don’t regret my decision at all. Over the course of just a few days, I got to know a lot of you very well and it was a wonderful experience.
As part of a follow-up to the retreat, I started to coming out to house church whenever I could. It has become something I always look forward to whenever I come back home from Waterloo. Through the strong sense of community and fellowship, I feel like I’ve been able to open up a lot more through our time of sharing. I remember the first time I came to house church, which was just before the summer retreat. The only thing I shared was: I was thankful for being invited and I was stressed about school approaching. Over time, I’ve been able to grow a lot by becoming more willing to share about things I never really talked to anyone about. I’ve also learned a lot through listening to others share. It has given me a better understanding of others and has taught me to not just assume that everyone is doing well right off the bat. I’ve gotten to know my fellow house church members very well and I feel a sense of home there.
Just last month, Caleb invited me to come to the Gospel Presentation Session. For the last few months, I was a bit hesitant to go as I didn’t really know how committed I was to faith. I didn’t know too much about it but I had come to trust Caleb a lot though, and again, I took another chance. It was a unique experience for me since we had the chance to have a one-on-one session. During the presentation, there was one verse that really got my attention. It comes from Revelations 3:20:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
Over the few months that I’ve been exposed to faith, I had been learning a lot through church and fellowships at school. I was always scared to call myself a Christian, as I felt that I wasn’t ready. It had only been a short time for me and I felt like I was not a Christian “yet”. There were still a lot of things that I didn’t know and had a lot of uncertainty about. I thought that I needed to completely understand everything.
Through this verse and through Caleb’s explanation, I was able to understand in clear detail, what it meant to be a Christian: to open the door for Jesus; to receive him. Everything else is only a part of the journey. It was at that point that I felt ready to take the first step.
I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be here. Oftentimes it felt like it wasn’t just a coincidence, but it became confusing to me. If I were to say this was all God’s doing, then wouldn’t that diminish the respect and appreciation I had for Paul for bringing me here? Later, I came to realize what the free will that God granted us really means. From how I see it, it’s not that God forced him to approach me, but rather that God presented an opportunity for Paul to bring me here as part of His plan, and it was up to Paul to actually act upon it. So, I have both God and Paul to thank for being here.
In a very similar manner, I had the common question of, “Why does God let bad things happen in this world?” I’ve come to my own understanding that while bad things do happen, it is in His plan that we are able to do as much as we can to help each other — to be more like the Good Samaritan. We are given the chance to do so, but it’s our choice to take it. Rather than drowning in pity and regret, we have the opportunity to actually try and do something about it. In response to this, I’ve decided to join the Outreach Ministry in my campus, where we plan to serve and give back to the community. It has always been something on my mind, but never really got to actually doing. I’ve gained a lot more courage from fellowship and I believe that this something that I’ve been called to do for a while.
There are still a lot of things that I don’t understand that well, but I’ve become more willing to learn about them. As I go along this path, I hope to continue to grow both in faith and as a Christian. Thank you.