Hosted by our very own Andrew Wang, this is the first ever Bridgeway podcast. In this episode, join Andrew as he speaks with our praise director Albert Lee who shares his personal stories of God’s work in his life.
God Answers Prayers
I would like to share a thanksgiving for earlier this month regarding a project for work I was working on and how God answers my desperate prayer…
Hi everyone, my name is Stephen.
I would like to share a thanksgiving for earlier this month, on the 1st which was a Tuesday. I was working on a project for work which I was still in progress for three weeks at that time. Mostly on my own but I had online documentation and Google to help me get through. The deadline was supposedly the week before but I was still having issues with completing the project now set to finish as soon as possible because we have to start working with our client that week. I couldn’t figure it out, everything was supposedly set accordingly to what was working online but it wasn’t working for me. I was at my wits end and extremely frustrated that I sent an angry prayer to God but admitting my complete and utter insufficiency to complete this technical mission. I made sure to pray in secret cause shyness by bowing my head on my desk hidden behind my lunch box on my left which was large enough to block the view from my manager who sits two desks away to my left.
It was around 4:30PM that my manager decided it was time for him to pick up his kid from daycare signaling the end of the day and I made no progress whatsoever. As he was leaving I decided I might as well post on the online community forums and official help request for the equipment I was working with. But I was very doubtful that I would get a response at all assuming that most community forums would probably respond within a few days or at least a day later, which is time I do not have. As I continued to try to figure out on my own a little less than an hour later I got a reply back from a community member reminding me to check some routine stuff. I was surprised to get a response and I immediately replied. After a few posts here and there the helper, even though they were not knowledgeable about one of the equipment I was working with, suggested changing one small thing that I had set. Within 15 minutes of the initial response and that one suggestion my system was finally working! I was sooooo happy to finally get my project working and moving on to the next step that I went home right after!
Reflecting now after the fact I realize this is a very timely thing because just the week before I was trying to get back into my own prayer life and learning how to pray again. That week there was actually a devotional on prayer on August 28 Friday that mentioned Matthew 18:3 where Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I experienced the very thing that was discussed in that devotional that we tend to not pray for anything at all until we are at our wits end! I am thankful that God even answered that last minute prayer. God is still speaking to me because last Sunday’s service Peter prayed about praying like a child and during our married couples Ohana group’s first meeting of the year this past Friday, Pastor Daniel w was shared an eerily similar testimony about how God answers prayers in the smallest things that we can’t even accomplish on our own. I think I am getting God’s message to me.
I hope to be able to pray more earnestly all the time, as I did when I was simply desperate, recognizing that I am helpless without God and know God on a deeper level as I am humbled more. I hope this encourages you to pray at any time cause God really does shine!
Thanks for your time to listen to my story.
It’s been almost three months since being sheltered in place. During this time, I felt that time went by both slowly and quickly. On one hand, it has gone slowly because life has become monotonous, which has made it feel more exhausting.
Hi, my name is Sam and I’ve been part of Bridgeway for the past four years now. I am a member of our LIFE group and am also one of the staff for Stanford A2. This is my reflection.
As I was thinking about verses that have been speaking to me during this time, I noticed that they all had a similar theme: patience. It was especially relevant for me as I continued to wrestle with this pandemic and quarantine myself from others. It’s been more than 5 months since we’ve sheltered in place, and through that time, God has been teaching me to be patient through His word and through our past church sermons.
In Romans 5, Paul talks about how suffering leads to endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
For me, I wanted to share how I was able to experience something similar, but in particular, how solitude has produced patience, and patience has produced hope.
If you know me, you know I enjoy spending time and socializing with others a lot, especially late at night. When this pandemic first hit, I thought I could keep it up and handle it well. Just the novelty of being sheltered in place seemed exciting and new. I could work from home. I had an excuse to catch up with old friends more easily through zoom. And I could save time from not having to commute. But that feeling quickly died down and dissolved into a lack of motivation. I began experiencing no separation between my work and personal life and also no separation between my work clothes and sleep clothes. The news was depressing to read and every moment of hope I had that the pandemic would end soon quickly faded as more things continued to get postponed, and around a month in, I began to recognize my own spiritual poverty.
But through His word, I knew it was ok to feel the way I felt, although ultimately, it wasn’t the way God intended for me to live. It started when I reflected back on the various disciplines pastor Chris talked about during lent last spring, of which silence and solitude stood out to me the most, simply because it was the hardest for me to practice. In Matthew, Jesus says to go to your room and shut the door and pray in secret. And that’s what I started doing.
Practicing more silence and solitude has helped me realize how much time I get distracted thinking about work and how much I get distracted by my phone. It has also helped point out how easily I can idolize busyness by seeing how much importance I placed in how busy I was.
Practicing solitude has also made me more sensitive to my own sins and weaknesses.
In the book Celebration of Discipline, which also talks about spiritual disciplines, the author writes about how once we cultivate an inner solitude and silence, it can set us free from loneliness and fear. Psalm 46:10 tells us that “be still and know that I am God.” It reassures us that we are never alone.
A month later, I started to make a few changes. I first got a haircut, one that was long overdue. I started resuming my daily habits like putting on my contacts and brushing my teeth in the morning. I started quitting slack promptly at the same time each day and removed the app from my phone to less distract myself of work. Although small, these changes helped establish routine in my life, but more importantly, it has helped me stay disciplined and turn my lack of motivation into a persistent patience.
A few months back, I was struck by the story pastor Soon Tee shared Admiral Stockdale’s story. When asked who were the ones who died first, he explains “oh that’s easy, it was the optimists.” As counterintuitive as it sounds, Stockdale explains, which is known as the stockdale paradox, that “You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.
AND at the same time…
You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
And as I recalled that story, although we were not in the middle of a war, I realized how relevant it was to our current times. And really the takeaway for me was not to turn into a pessimist but to be even more patient.
I began to become more aware that this was what God wanted me to practice. It became a repeated theme. Pastor Soon Tee previously preached about how Esther was patient when she fasted for three days. Later, Pastor Chris preached on waiting on the LORD, and in Isaiah 40:31 it says “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”. In order for God to renew our strength, we need to know God’s strength and at the same time, know our own despair.
Lastly, continuing to maintain a long distance relationship has also forced me to be patient and trust in God during this time.
Going back to the stockdale paradox, it says “we must retain faith that you will prevail in the end”, and for me, it is the hope I place in God that has allowed me to endure with patience.
Slowly, as I continued to practice patience, the less I became preoccupied by my own anxieties and worries and the more I became sensitive to the things going on around me. Despite the endless noise and overwhelming news about what’s happening to the world, God has given me more discernment in identifying where to focus my attention. As a result, it has led me to make an effort to donate supplies and food for others in need, to support a compassion child along with the rest of my LIFE small group, and to educate myself on matters of justice that I’ve been blind to.
It isn’t much and these have been the least I could do, but it has helped me to not just be concerned about my own life and learn what it means to count others more significant than myself.
Even though at times, I still struggle with how to spend my time or what to do with myself and lose hope because of the events happening in this world, I continue to press on with the strength God gives me. Not only do I need to be patient with myself, but I also need to be patient with God because he has been patient with me.
“Be still and know that I am God” says the psalmist. I remind myself of the truth of who God is and that He is not slow to fulfill his promise but is patient. It is God who will ultimately prevail and nothing, not even a pandemic, can prevent us from experiencing the hope that he has already given.
God is At Work
Feeling frustrated in your career? Don’t know what to do and need some perspective? No matter where you are in life, God is always at work!
On Monday, January 27, 2020, I turned in my two week notice for BMW. According to LinkedIn, I had been with BMW for the past 4 years and 4 months. Looking back, I thank God for placing me at this workplace. It has been both a blessing and a challenge.
Four years ago, I was so lost in my career after college. My major was Health Science and because it was a broad major, I considered doing something more specific that would require more training. I explored courses in three allied health fields: as a nurse, medical assistant, and phlebotomist, but none of them worked out. One of my relatives suggested I pursue my Certificate in Accounting because they thought a job in accounting would be more stable. These classes gave me the foundation to work in the field, however, I was not sure if this was my interest. Although I wanted to be obedient to where God was leading me, I was not sure this was the path, but I knew that God can work through anything. I did not like the uncertainty of not knowing the pathway. I felt discouraged because a lot of people around me seemed like they knew what they wanted to do, but I could not find my “passion.” I felt so left out and abandoned by the world. I realized that the world may define us by the work we do, but God defines us as His child. During this time, God did not abandon me, but He was faithful. He provided a wide range of experiences from being a Project SHINE coordinator that connects SJSU students to senior citizens, to being a Baker in Paris Baguette, to Summer Food Program monitor, and then to Travel Tally Data Collector. At the time, I did not know how these experiences were related, but God had a plan for me. One day, I was talking with a recruiter and he asked me if I wanted to interview with BMW. My first thought was, what is BMW? (Sorry, I only knew of Toyota and Honda back then, lol). My second thought was, I do not know anything about the car industry so I felt underqualified. However, something changed my mind. It was as if God was telling me to just say yes. In the end, I said “Yes” to the interview and got the job.
During my time there, I felt God’s protection. I made a lot of mistakes over and over and I thought I was gonna get let go. However, my manager was super nice and showed me a lot of grace and mercy. She gave me multiple chances to improve and was gentle in giving corrections. Two of my other co-workers were also watching out for me by giving feedback. No matter how big the storms were at work, my manager was grounded and led by example. This reminded me that no matter how many mistakes we make and how sinful we are, God loves us and gives us opportunities to repent and turn back to Him (1 John 1:9).
Even though we are not perfect because we are sinners, God was also healing me during my time there. I was having a tough time outside of work. Besides work trials, I was tested in some personal relationships. Relationships can be frustrating and God revealed to me that frustration was a form of anger, which was also sin. We are sinful people. God used my work relationships to teach me to trust again. Even though my managers and co-workers were Catholic, they were women of faith and I connected well with them. They are very strong women. They reminded me of two women of the Bible: Esther and Deborah. Esther was a strong woman who risked her own life to save her people. She put others first before herself. Deborah was a fearless leader who was also a judge and prophet. Similarly my managers and coworkers were brave, courageous, and women of faith. They loved people by having warm hearts, being generous, and treating us like family which reflected Christ. Even though I do not know their standing with God, He can use anyone or any situation to help sanctify me.
Also, I did not make a lot of money at work. If I had focused my job prospects only on income, I would have declined the job from the very beginning and not experienced God in these ways. Instead of focusing on money, I focused on experience and what God was teaching me. He revealed how selfish I was. He reminded me it is not about me and not always about accomplishing what I want, but glorifying Him at work. Money can disappear quickly, but the experience will be with me forever. There is not anything wrong with money, but it can become dangerous when we make it our main focus, our idol (Colossians 3:5). When we chase the things of this world, it can quickly disappear when we least expect.
For instance, now, we are in this Covid-19 season. It has disrupted our lives and with shelter in place, it has made many things inconvenient. Additionally, people have lost jobs or have been furloughed. I am thankful that I am still able to work because I am at my current job. If I was still at BMW, I might have been furloughed. The Covid-19 situation affects everyone differently, and I am not making light of anybody who lost a job. Even though I have a job, God can also take it away like how God took everything away from Job. Everything on this earth is temporary, but finding security in God alone is sufficient (Psalms 62:1-2). In these uncertain times, I challenge you to think about: What lessons is God trying to teach us? Is He helping us see things we were blinded from before? The idols in our life? The sins hidden in our hearts that people do not know, but God knows? (1 Samuel 16:7). What will last is not things of this world, but God’s Word who endures forever (Isaiah 40:8).
I thank God for His unconditional love and His plans for me. I may not know what I want to do for my career, but God has me where He wants me to be now. I also thank God for giving me this new job opportunity with the City and County of San Francisco. I may not know what the future holds, but the stories He creates for us are far greater than our human plans (Proverbs 16:9). When we let go of control and leave our plans to Him, He can do great things. There is also something else to consider: If there is a job opening that may not be related to your field or maybe it is not what you want, it is possible that God has opened that door for you for a reason. Perhaps, He is using this opportunity to work through you, help sanctify you, and let Him be glorified through this job. There is a season and purpose for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Please pray that God can be glorified at my new workplace and I look forward to seeing what He has in store for me.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 1:6. All my life I feel that God in control. He intervenes and orchestrates events for His purpose.
My name is Bryan and this is my story.
I was born in a small village in central Vietnam. I am Khmer Krom (Vietnam-born but ethnically Cambodian) and I speak Khmer and a bit of Vietnamese. I grew up in a very strict Buddhist family. My Dad was a Buddhist monk when he was young. I’ve lived in Cambodia, Thailand , Philippines and finally America. I was 10 and was introduced to church for the first time in America. I became a follower of Jesus the end of my Junior year in college and I’m the only Christian in my family.
Before I became a follower of Jesus, I was very selfish and uncaring. I didn’t care too much about my family and didn’t appreciate my parent’s sacrifice in bringing us to America. I took a lot of things in my life for granted. Although I never break any laws or did anything bad to anyone, my heart was full of darkness. On the outside I was trying to please everyone and putting a front but on the inside I was confused and directionless.
There were times God personally challenge me of my sins but I was scared that my life wouldn’t change if I make a decision to follow Him. I stopped attending church in high school because I was too busy with sports. I began to think about the direction of my life more seriously in college. I also needed guidance in my career. I received an invitation for a mentorship program called AAMP (Asian American Mentor Program). I was the first one to apply. Little did I know that God orchestrated this and led me to a Baptist Christian group on campus called ABSK (Asian Baptist Student Koinonia). I met up with my mentor and we began to share our lives together. I told him my story and how I used to attend church. I mentioned to him that I’ve asked Jesus to come into my life but I didn’t see any changes. He began to share with me and gave me verses to read over. We met up one last time before he headed out to become a full time missionary in Central Asia. He shared how Jesus died for my sins. I recognized I was a sinner. Knowing this, what is my decision? I didn’t know if I’ll have another opportunity to make this important decision. I know that if I die, I wanted to be with God in heaven and not be separated from Him forever. We were about to leave but I sat there not wanting to leave. I knew I had to make this decision now and not delay any longer. I told him that I want to give my life to Jesus Christ and accept Him as my Lord and savior. They were so overjoyed. We prayed together and tears began to flow uncontrollably from my eyes. I was overjoyed and I can’t help but think of Jesus; how he hung on the cross for a wretched sinner like me. I was so thankful to God. I’ll never forget that night on July 14th, 1999 at Pho Thanh Long restaurant in Santa Clara, CA. It was the day I knew I wanted to live the rest of my life for Jesus. I got baptized on October 3th 1999. It was a spiritual marker for me.
God gave me direction for my life and helped me to love my family and care for them so much more than I can do myself. He also provided me with a wife who also is a follower of Jesus and two rowdy boys 🙂 . And together we had an opportunity to serve him by committing two years of our lives to teach and tell the students in Cambodia about the love of Jesus. Through it he brought us closer in our relationship. My relationship with God draws closer as I spend time talking to Him and reading his Word, the Bible. I thank Him for everything and I look forward to living a worthy life that brings Glory to Him.
God is the Loving Father
When it comes to spiritual matters, I am a slow learner. I identify with the prodigal son that Jesus talked about, except that I would have taken even longer to recognize my mistake and my need for forgiveness….
When it comes to spiritual matters, I am a slow learner. I identify with the prodigal son that Jesus talked about, except that I would have taken even longer to recognize my mistake and my need for forgiveness.
I am the oldest of 2 sons and was born in the U.S. to Korean parents. Being the oldest, I was always given the best and the most time and attention from my parents. I was definitely spoiled growing up. I grew up going to church and, being both a reader and a person of habit, read the Bible consistently every night when I was young. I probably read the Bible straight through twice by the time I finished middle school. I was very shy and a loner and didn’t have many friends. At church, I was quick to listen to the story of Jesus but I didn’t really know anyone. I don’t actually remember when I first made the admission that I was a sinner and belief that Jesus was the son of God and commitment to follow Him but I think I did sometime in middle school or younger.
When I was in the 6th grade, my family and I moved to Korea abruptly to live with my grandparents. My parents were going through a lot of conflict with each other and promised me that we would return to the U.S. soon, which never ended up happening. I soon became unhappy and isolated from most people. When I was in the 7th or 8th grade, I read a news article about a cult that had committed mass suicide, and somehow this triggered an avalanche of sadness and bitterness in me. I was in a dark depression and blamed all of my problems on my life situation, including my dysfunctional family, my preppy school, in fact the entire country of Korea and world, none of which I felt could understand me. One day in 10th grade, I did the unthinkable and ran away from my problems by leaving Korea with some money I had taken from my family and flew to the U.S. on my own. I had no concrete plan, just the urge to escape and leave, and I threw away my passport soon after I landed in the U.S. I spent one night on the street and was picked up by the police and later sent to stay with my aunt nearby while my parents figured out what to do with me. When I spoke to my Mom the next day, I told her that I wanted to return back to Korea and back to my old life. When I returned to Korea a few weeks later after my passport was reissued, I was no longer depressed and had a new lease at my life. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but God had allowed me to throw my life away and hurt those around me, all for a brief moment of happiness and enjoyment, only to give me another chance at living my life free from depression and surrounded by family who would love and forgive me.
Despite all of this, while I was no longer depressed and bitter, I was not ready to come closer to Christ. Throughout high school and college, my faith was the size of a mustard seed. I had Jesus in my heart and prayed occasionally to return to him, but I was preoccupied with other things in life like my friends, music, video games, and most of all, myself and how I was perceived by others. I thought of myself as a good person: someone who probably sinned less than others and so was more deserving of God’s love and blessings. But my life was no different from any non-believer. Everything changed when I moved to San Jose for grad school and began attending a church and asked to join the praise band to play guitar. Because of this responsibility, I had to come to church on Sundays and Saturdays for practice consistently. I slowly became more and more aware of my sin and the ugliness of sin in general, developed friendships with other believers, and started to care more about developing my relationship with Christ and helping others grow closer to Him.
I met and married Chantra and came to Bridgeway Church 9 years ago, where I was further challenged to confront my natural inclinations of selfishness and pride and was called to serve in Oikos, GROW, and now Youth ministries. I was recently challenged by the devotion from My Utmost on September 28 which is about the rich, young ruler. The ruler had gone through great pains to follow God’s laws but he is short of actually knowing Christ. In the same way, I don’t want to focus on just following God’s rules but instead, I hope to become closer and closer to Christ until I can genuinely abandon all other desires and truly follow him.
Recently I made the difficult decision to quit my job, take my kids out of school, and homeschool them. I did this for several good reasons related to my kids, to try to help their academics, to build a stronger bond with them, to be a better minister and witness to them. But I also did it to grow in my own relationship with Christ because I was struggling to find the time and space to nurture my relationship with Him. My last day of work was this past Friday, and I hope that I will be able to become ever closer to Him. Thank you.
I was unhappy as a child. Materially, I had everything a child needed. But I didn’t feel loved. My parents were very busy with their careers and they were not the kind who showed affection with hugs or by saying ‘I love you’.
I was unhappy as a child. Materially, I had everything a child needed. But I didn’t feel loved. My parents were very busy with their careers and they were not the kind who showed affection with hugs or by saying ‘I love you’. When I was 6 to 9 years old, I stayed with a nanny during the day and she had 2 older kids and I was bullied by them. I grew up very angry, unloved, lonely, and felt that I could only rely on myself.
In my late teens, I began to look to possessions for fulfilment – I spent a lot of time and money shopping. I became overwhelmed by what the world had to offer. There was no end to the number of pretty dresses, shoes and bags. After a shopping trip, I would feel so depressed – that I had spent money and time, and that I had not managed to go through enough shops – what if I had not gotten the best deal, what if there was that one dress that I could have gotten but missed out.
In college, I joined my campus fellowship group when I was a freshman and then I continued to go for Friday evening bible studies and then over time I went for Sunday services as well. In hindsight, I was probably just going because I enjoyed being around people and feeling like I belonged to a group. Not long after, I started going out with a guy who was not a Christian – and soon after – I hardly went to church.
When I moved back home after college, I didn’t have a church to go back to. My family is not Christian so I did not have a church back home. So I went to different churches on an irregular basis, and that continued that way for a long time. There was no one to ‘check-in’ on me back home – my church leaders were all in another country and we lost touch over time. I continued like this for some time – drifting in and out of being a Christian – if that is even possible. I would say I was Christian but deep down I don’t know.
I continued to be lost in the material world. I met my husband and we got married. For the wedding, there were so many options – what kind of venue, what kind of decor and chairs, what gowns, what shoes, what rings.
Similarly, after getting married and we were remodelling our new home, there was no end to the number of designs I could have – Scandinavian chic, shabby chic, industrial chic, mid-modern century etc. etc. What light fixtures, what arm chair, what wallpaper.
When we were expecting our first child, there were even more things to spend money on – fancy cribs, cute baby clothes, state of the art strollers etc etc etc.
I was so lost in this sinful world where we could never be fulfilled. There would always be something newer and fancier that would require more and more money, time and effort ‘to keep up with the Joneses’.
All this while – I had been going to church on and off. I certainly had heard the message, and I told myself I believed that Christ had died for me, but somehow I wasn’t really listening. I was generally a good person, but still lost in the world. I was still a sinner by not realizing that I was still very much mired in all the worldly attractions of finding a better deal, better clothes, better lighting fixtures.
God continued to work in me after having children. Having kids really forced me to put on a new lens. All the worldly goods I had been chasing became so insignificant. Anyway I was stuck at home with a baby who didn’t care what I was wearing, and she certainly did not have a second thought about vomiting all over our Herman Miller mid-modern century daybed with hairpin wooden legs. Having children showed me my priorities – God had given us this huge responsibility to parent his children. It also made me confront the question on how I wanted to raise them – did I want them to have the same Godless childhood I had while growing up? The answer was no, and I decided then that I had to go to church regularly and made a commitment that my children would grow up in a church.
During that period, an old friend of mine invited me to come to her church. So I decided to go. It was my first time attending church in a couple of years. I just remember stepping into the sanctuary and it was during praise, and the tears just started streaming down my face. It was like I was finally home and God was welcoming me. I finally realized that only Jesus could save me by his blood and I accepted him into my heart.
God didn’t stop there. Over the past 3 years, I’ve grown so much more as a Christian. After moving here to the US, we found our way to Bridgeway where we have continued to grow. The Holy Spirit really spoke to me when I went through the Survival Kit with my then large group leader Chantra. I could feel the spirit in me and that every word I had read in the Bible was true and that all of God’s promises were real and would be fulfilled.
Being a Christian to me is about feeling this magic of the Holy Spirit. It is so strong that you cannot deny it. I can feel it in my fingertips as I was writing my testimony, I can feel it coursing through my body. I cannot wait for the moment when Christ returns, and I know for sure it will be soon.
God is Powerful & Graceful
I was born into a largely non-religious family, in Malaysia. We were very poor. My parents weren’t very educated, and were constantly stressing over money, despite working almost 7 days a week after we moved to Singapore. For many years, we stayed in a tiny one-room rental apartment…
I first started writing my testimony over a year ago, in September 2019.
I found the process incredibly difficult. I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior for many years – since the early 2010s – but I could not recall a precise moment when that happened.
And no matter how I tried, I could not find any outwardly visible transformation, the kind of before-and-after that one often hears from a “standard” Christian testimony. I asked my wife, and she said the only significant change was that I had gotten fatter over time.
I was afraid that my testimony would be really boring — I have never done drugs, never stolen anything, never run away from home. At least externally, it wasn’t obvious how Jesus had saved me and changed my life.
And so I started doubting myself. Was I really a “true” Christian if God hadn’t completely changed every aspect of my life? Or was I just pretending? Even though I had accepted Jesus into my life, what if I wasn’t worthy enough for Him?
I didn’t know the answers to those questions. So I prayed.
And God responded.
All along, I had lost the forest for the trees. In trying to write an “interesting” testimony for others, I had ultimately sinned, and lost sight of what actually mattered the most.
My testimony was not primarily about me and how I had changed. Rather, it should be about acknowledging and sharing what Jesus had done in my life. There is no “best” testimony; there is also no “boring” testimony. God touches everyone in different ways.
So here is my testimony about God’s power and God’s grace.
I was born into a largely non-religious family, in Malaysia. We were very poor. My parents weren’t very educated, and were constantly stressing over money, despite working almost 7 days a week after we moved to Singapore. For many years, we stayed in a tiny one-room rental apartment – I remember sleeping right next to the front door on a small mattress, along with my grandmother and sister.
I absolutely hated my parents. My mum always saw the worst in everyone and everything, and she always threatened to run away from home. She also often hit me with a cane. My dad smoked a lot, and often exploded with anger over the smallest things. He was never at home and I would sometimes not see him for an entire week, because he got home after I slept and left for work before I got up for school.
My parents fought a lot – mainly over money. I would hide in my room with my sister while my dad shouted and my mum smashed plates in the kitchen. I’m surprised the neighbors never called the cops.
I was very unhappy as a child. I felt very unloved, and cried to sleep a lot. I also thought a great deal about suicide. I wondered if things would be better if I just killed myself, since I meant nothing to the world. I really envied my friends whose parents seemed nice, made more money, had larger homes, and who spent time as a family. My family barely existed, and I was stuck with them.
But I wasn’t just a “victim”. I also sinned in many ways. I never respected my parents, and did not forgive them. Ironically, I had some anger management issues, just like my dad. I was usually calm, but sometimes I would suddenly get incensed. I might scream at my sister – out of the blue – till I lost my voice. Once in school, I kicked a friend really hard on his shin – one of my toes is still slightly bent to this day.
And this anger persisted even as I got much older. I would sometimes get really upset at random people – when driving, I would sometimes tailgate and high-beam a slightly slower driver on the road, or keep snapping at some poor customer service rep over the phone. I always felt so ashamed after each incident, for being so mean.
And then, over some years in my early twenties, I got to know Jesus.
I cannot remember exactly when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior. I don’t think there was a single moment. All I know is that Jesus kept drawing me nearer and nearer to Him. I met my wife , and started going to church with her. When I was studying in London on my own, I walked an hour every Sunday to attend services at All Souls Church – always alone, to listen to God’s word. And when I started work, God blessed me with many colleagues who also believed, who guided me and prayed with me.
And so at some point, I decided that I would entrust everything to God. I had many worries, but none of them truly mattered as the Lord was my shepherd.
I found a lot of peace with God – from praying, from reading and learning about His word, and from beautiful hymns. This was peace that I had never experienced while growing up.
And over the years, I am finally at peace with my parents and have forgiven them. Despite all that happened and maybe even because of that, I respect them for holding together our family, and for not getting a divorce, and for having the courage to give up everything they knew in Malaysia, and raise my sister and I in Singapore.
And most importantly, I am at peace with myself. I know that I was a sinner, am a sinner and will always be a sinner, but Jesus has already paid for my sins with his death.
I am constantly amazed at God’s grace – He has been watching out for me all along, years before I got to know Christ. The friend whom I kicked in the shin? He became one of my best friends, and he and his wife gave me my first Bible, as a birthday present.
God has made miracles happen, and answered my prayers so many times – like when my daughter had open heart surgery when she was 8 months old, when we planned our risky move here to the US, and even when we ended up attending Bridgeway solely by picking a random church on Google Maps.
I quote 2 Timothy 1 verse 9: He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
I don’t deserve God, I really don’t. None of us do. But I am so grateful and so humbled that I am saved by His grace alone. Nothing else truly matters.