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張敦毅 Irvin


Today I decided to get baptized as a public display of my willingness to fully embrace this life and live fully with Jesus.

I was not born in a Christian family nor did I grow up among a Christian community. Throughout my life I never really thought about having any relationship between God and myself, nor the need for it. Although I never considered myself as an atheist, but at one point I view any sort of religion – particularly Christianity – as a crutch for the weak, irrational or a hobby for the privileged. So, never would I have imagined that one day I would declare myself a follower of Christ and even get baptized.

I don’t remember when I was first told there is a God in this world and the story of Jesus. Even though I had this knowledge, it had no impact whatever on my lifestyle or my perspectives on the world. I’m the type of person who won’t believe something until I’m given proof. I also wasn’t the most optimistic nor sentimental person. I was always full of rage and filled with negative thoughts and I always thought that is merely one way to live a life, but I never considered that there was another option.

My childhood was very smooth sailing if I have to be honest, filled with plenty of family vacations, abundance of resources, plenty of attention – of course, there were occasional speed bumps that threw me into tantrum but nothing major enough to be considered to be world view altering. Throughout the years, I never had trouble making friends, getting into the school or company I wanted, landing a job, or getting a promotion. God’s grace then was irrelevant for me as I attributed every success to myself. Soon enough though, there wasn’t one specific problem but somehow, I felt a gaping hole in my life and that nothing or no one could truly fulfil me. On the surface, I had it all together – having lots of friends, being ahead of schedule among my peers, getting praised at work without needing to pour in too much effort – life was good… but deep down, I felt the most inadequate I had ever felt in my life.

Then in 2009, my then girlfriend now my wife, encouraged me to explore Christianity and she started by giving me the book “The Purpose Driven Life”. Mark Twain has widely been credited to have said, “the two most important days of a man’s life are the day on which he was born and the day on which he discovers why he was born.” – and reading that book made me reconsidered for what purpose was I born and how our lives are given to us by God for God’s purposes, and until I realize that, my lives won’t make much sense, or bring me much fulfillment. Of course, the rebellious side of me started questioning if I have become the weak and the irrational needing for a crutch.

Nevertheless, I started to label myself as a Christian and I would define my “responsibility” as simply going to church every Sunday and occasionally praying to God for what I desired. It was a peculiar time in my life where I felt like what I was longing for in my entire life is just an arm lengths away but at the same time I was afraid of the commitment and sacrifice needed. Despite this, I was somewhat aware that being a Christian had more meaning and required more effort, yet I didn't take action. It took me years of ups and downs to become incentivized to start comprehend what being a Christian meant.

As I started to attend church more regularly, partly due to feeling obligated to, on many occasions, I would start questioning and challenging stories in the Bible, what they were actually trying to tell us and whether there was a need to go to church. I also started questioning whether pastors were butchering the messages in the Bible and if the churches I went to were really carrying out the duties they were supposed to. I gradually came to the realization that I wasn’t entirely seeking God but instead I was finding a spiritual clubhouse based on what I find appetizing.

The void in me still existed - It wasn’t until a few years later after I hopped around a few churches and came across a sermon, which might be my eureka moment, where the message miraculously struck a chord as if God wanted to address what I was longing for. I was reminded that God knows whatever we are struggling with and that He loves us regardless. It led me to reflect on my walk of faith and I came to realize that the way I thought about Christianity and religion was flawed on so many levels. I also reconsidered the “leap of faith” – I no longer wanted to just wander around the swimming pool or merely dip my foot into the pool, I wanted to dive right in. I began joining a fellowship group, wanting to be part of a community instead of just sparing 90 minutes on a weekly basis to attend service. I would start listening more intently to the word of God, opening my ears and heart, and really welcoming Jesus into my life. Bit by bit, I started to embrace my identity as a Christian and slowly walked along this path with my church mates.

Being part of a community, God has given me a new perspective on the importance of community and what it means to journey with other believers. Looking back, God was intentional these past years – He was always here even though I didn’t think he was, my faith has matured to a more well-rounded and personal approach, and I am eager to see how He will continue to mold me. I have found the confirmation that Jesus is the answer to our quest for meaning in life. The Christian faith is not a religion, but a relationship with our one true God. It is personal. It is real. And it changes lives. We do not serve a distant God. We serve a living God who wants to be connected with us.

Today I decided to get baptized as a public display of my willingness to fully embrace this life and live fully with Jesus.


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