May 14, 2017

               Having grown in a province, where people sleep shortly after dusk and rise up before dawn, I undoubtedly defy such culture, for I used to keep myself awake as I cram to finish my school requirements for the purpose of receiving medals and praises I’ve been longing for and had been my goals and dreams for years.

               During one of those early mornings of studying hard, I happened to listen to a radio program that was still on air until 2:00 am. There was a preacher that invites his listener at the end of his program to join him in prayer.  Thinking that this prayer might be the key for me to get a perfect score in my exam the following day, I joined him in prayer.  Then the speaker said that if we, the listeners, had prayed that prayer by heart, then the angels in heaven are rejoicing. That time I didn’t know what he meant.

               But whatever the results those prayers would bring, my main goal is to be prepared and qualified to get into college, away from my old village, and having my life changed by the fast city life. And I was not mistaken. Even before I started college life, a challenge has already there for me. I needed a home away from home – a dormitory. As I was hopping from one dormitory to another, they all had several requirements and rules that I had to meet. But there was this one dormitory that has a unique condition. The landlady said that the payment is not her main prerequisite. All she wanted was for me to join a weekly fellowship and attend a bible study. I was surprised. Who would decline such an offer? It’s a blessing indeed for a country folk like me, to be surrounded with spiritual activities. It’s like having a home for my body and soul.  Why not?

               I joined fellowship and bible study just for compliance’s sake. But as years passed by, I felt that there was something being changed in me. I am praying a prayer which is far different from the way I used to pray before. What amazes me more was when the time I did not reach the grade required for my degree, and had to shift course, I neither cried nor felt down. I wondered and asked myself “What had happened to me? How about those medals, praises, and applause that I have been chasing for?” During that time, I could say I love what was happening to me. I felt the goodness of the Lord and I want it more. I want to grow more in the knowledge of Him.

               My graduation in college was my first graduation ceremony where I seemed to be just a mere audience – no medals, no claps, and no praises. But this is the first graduation that I felt complete, successful, and accomplished. What the landlady who accepted me in the dormitory used to say, “It is not an accident why you are here,” must be true. Later did I realize that when I was looking for a house to stay, it is not really my physical body that is searching for a home, but my soul finding for a pasture where it can be fed.

               However, despite all these revelations, something is holding me back, like how I can proclaim to the world about God’s grace in my life? Or how would my family understand me? How can I say to people who know me that it is not about religion but my relationship with God? How can I explain the changes in my life without them turning away from me? For almost five years, I keep on convincing myself that I am secured because I already accepted Christ as my personal God and Saviour. But there is something within me that keeps on saying that I need to go out of the shell and shout to the world about my faith. I felt like I remained baby for five years – satisfied and filled but not growing.

               As I entered the workplace, I feel the greater challenge of a bigger city. At this point in time, I already have the discernment of the thin line that separates between the bad and the good, about what God wants in contrast with the ways of this world. God’s Word and His righteousness opened my eyes that indeed the world is filled with ungodliness and crookedness. That I am like a “baby” who was kept in a shell, growing in a slow pace and very much vulnerable to the things that were being unveiled before my very eyes. That’s when I finally decided to step out in faith, break my shell, and go out and shout and this world can no longer intimidate me. I’m a grown-up person now – fortified with the grace of God and armoured by the Holy Spirit living in me.

               After several times of rejecting my one-to-one leader’s advice to me to undergo victory weekend, I finally decided that maybe this is indeed the right time for me to receive the power that is in store for me. Despite the hesitations, and opposition from my family over my decision, I decided to join the Victory Weekend last 13-14 May 2017. After that two-day retreat, I realized that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.

               Shortly after I was water baptized, I heard people clapping, my leader and my pastor shaking hands with me, and my siblings in Christ congratulated me. A thought flashed back in my mind, those claps and congratulatory words were the ones I was chasing for when I was still studying. Who would have thought that I’ll be hearing those again?  But this time, in a more meaningful and blessed way! No medals and claps could ever suffice the power I’ve just received from God – the power of the Holy Spirit. As we can read His Words in Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes in you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

               Looking back as to how I was saved and eventually proclaimed to the whole world about my faith, I couldn’t help but reflect back when I was in the countryside, just an avid listener to a radio program and a blind follower to a prayer being spoken. I didn’t think that it was the start of my salvation because I really did not understand what I was praying before. Nevertheless, I cannot deny the fact that that was the very moment God has unlocked the doors of my heart. This Victory Weekend helped me realized that I am indeed part of “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession…” (1 Peter 2:9). Finally, Victory weekend helped me answer my question on why the angels would rejoice over the prayer I made that night the radio preacher encouraged his listeners to follow. It’s because “I was once lost, but now I’m found.” How I got this?  The claps I heard after my water baptism was just like the angels rejoicing in heaven over a lost sinner finding its way to God.

Author’s Note: I started writing this piece at around 12:00 midnight. That same hour I prayed the sinner’s prayer with the prayer on the radio, six years ago.

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