I was born and raised in to a Christian family and was surrounded by the Lord’s presence ever since I was born. But only recently did my real Christian life start. I went to church my entire life but I only went because my parents went. So I’d go to church, be with friends, and play. I never went to church with the intent of “I’m going to talk with God, learn more about Him, and praise Him”. During service, I’d listen to the sermon and sing all the songs and do everything but without really trying to connect with God. I just did all that because that’s what was expected of me. During prayer, I remember always closing my eyes, putting my hands together, and that’s it. I didn’t pray, I just sat there quietly waiting for prayer to end. This went on for a couple of years until I moved to Mokmin. Now, I still didn’t fully believe in God but I was definitely coming closer to Him and thinking about Him more.
Once I came into EM, I still wasn’t very different. Thankfully, Caleb’s sermons were there to save me. Every week his sermons seemed to speak to me. They all connected to me, either it was related to a problem I was having or it was just something that spoke to me on an emotional level. This was the first time I had ever felt like God was really there, watching over me, and helping me. I constantly looked forward to Sunday service.
About a year later, I came across this phase where I started questioning Christianity, God, His existence, etc. The main reason for this was because of a school discussion in grade 9 where we were talking about beliefs and religions. There were many good points in the discussion but the one thing that stuck out for me was “What if we are just wasting our time believing in something that isn’t real?” This really hurt me as well as made me start wondering. My family and I have invested so much time into God and Church. What if all of this really was all for nothing? I tried to tell myself, “No. I shouldn’t be thinking like this. God is real and He will always be here for me.” Unfortunately, it didn’t work. I ended up losing interest in church for a bit. I wasn’t as eager to go anymore. I tried to pretend to be sick or something. But I didn’t completely stop, I still forced myself to go.
What saved me from this phase, was the summer retreat that we went to about a year ago. It was just like every other retreat, games, eating, service but something was definitely different. On the second night, we had the extra long service followed by extra intense prayer. Caleb had finished his sermon and we had started prayer. We were praying for each other. But thing is, while everyone was praying for each other, I just stood there. I wasn’t praying or anything. Just standing there thinking to myself “Why aren’t I praying for everyone and myself?” I don’t remember specifically what happened next but someone came to me and started praying, so I just closed my eyes and listened. I clearly remember that person reminding me that God was always there with me no matter what happened or how hard a situation might have been. That’s when I realized, God is real, he was always by me, protecting me, and comforting me. Then someone came to me and prayed for me as well. They told me to open up my heart and let Him in, otherwise it just wouldn’t work. And so I did. After the retreat ended, I had felt like a brand new person. I was eager to go to church and learn more again. Ever since I opened up to Him, I’ve relied on Him more.
Now I pray to him about everything, whether it’s to thank him for answering a prayer request or just to talk to Him if I ever want to. Before, I thought there was no point in praying for something since I thought, “Why would He bother to help someone like me when there are so many others more important things but now I rely on him for just about anything. Whenever I’m in a tough situation, I look towards him asking for an answer or for comfort. During exam week, I got really stressed so I decided to take a short break from studying and just talk with Him. I found it really comforting and I was no longer stressed. I was able to think straight. It also became easier to talk openly about God and Christianity. I now know that there isn’t anything to be embarrassed about thanks to The Receiving Jesus Meeting The Receiving Jesus Meeting was also an extra measure in confirming my faith. Through the meeting I was able to understand that He will always be there to help me no matter the circumstances as well as that He truly does love me a whole lot.
The biggest change in my life was becoming a flock leader. Becoming a shepherd was a huge thing for me since I wasn’t sure if I was ready or if I even had the abilities to lead a group. So when I was offered this leadership role, I prayed about it for a while. He told me that I was capable of doing this and that I’d be a leader sooner or later. So I told Anthony, that I would like to be leader. Obviously, at first I was nervous and not completely sure what I was doing but after receiving grace, I gained way more confidence and it just got easier from there. Through all of this, I learned that, God will always love me and that I just need to trust him and look towards him through my good days as well as bad days. He will always be there for me.