Before I was born, God was already working in the lives of my parents. My parents grew up in Taiwan with a belief system rooted in Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and ancestral worship. When my parents moved to Illinois for graduate studies, my mother was the first in our family to visit Christian churches and fellowship groups. My father was a skeptical scientist who trusted science, rather than faith, to answer the great questions of life. He thought he did not have time for religion. When he hit a dry spell of inadequate funding and frustration with his research, though, he ventured into a church with my mom. The message that day seemed to be directly addressed to him. As a result, he started delving into the Bible and meeting with Christians.
My parents met Christians who reached out in love to them – both their circle of graduate students and others at the University of Illinois. One particular Caucasian-American custodian befriended them and invited them to his home. He graciously crossed socioeconomic and cultural barriers to offer them hospitality, along with the love of Christ.
By the time I was four years old, our family had moved to New York, where my parents were baptized. From the side of the baptistery, I witnessed their professions of faith, followed by their immersion in and emergence from the water.
My father’s post-doctorate career then brought us to Lexington, Kentucky. By attending church, I learned that God loved the world and allowed His Son Jesus Christ to be born in a humble manger, grow up to be a carpenter and teacher, and die on the cross as a substitute for sinful humans.
The big picture became clearer to me when I was about seven years old. I remember sitting in a children’s worship service on a bright Sunday morning. The speaker shared from Revelations 3:20. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” The speaker concluded by asking us to open the door of our hearts to Jesus. When we invited Jesus in our hearts and lives, He would purify us from our sins. Jesus would then always be with us as our best friend, our Lord, and Savior. When we died, we would be with Him in heaven. With our heads bowed and eyes closed, I heard the rustling of clothes as hands rose.
I sensed that being a Christian was in the context of a community, yet the decision was individual. Sure, my parents followed Christ, were baptized, and took the family regularly to church. Here at church, I was surrounded by Christians and churchgoers who wanted to learn about Christ. But, I needed to respond to the knock on the door – to open the door, invite Christ to enter, and commune with Him. After a brief moment of contemplation, I too made my decision.
As I left the worship service, the day seemed brighter – not only from the rays of sunlight, but also because I had raised my hand and let the Son of God, the Light of the World, into my life. The smile on my face and the lightness in my step were reflections of a heart overwhelmed by joy. I was overjoyed to be unconditionally loved, to have the eternal companionship of Jesus.
After our stint in Kentucky, our family moved several more times. My understanding of the Christian faith deepened as I read the Bible, prayed, obeyed God’s Word, listened to pastors and teachers, and shared Christ with others.
Throughout different transitions, God has proved Himself faithful. He is my bedrock of stability that withstands seas of change. When I am wrong, He patiently corrects me and shows me through His Word and other Christians that I need to change my attitude and behavior. When I face different crossroads, I pray and consult Him. Then, I trust Him for the outcome – whether it concerns pursuing a medical education, getting married, raising children, working part-time, or making any other decision. God is like a lighthouse in the darkness. He guides me and provides direction in my life. As Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
There were times I did not feel completely confident in a decision, or where I second-guessed myself, or where God challenged me to defy conventional wisdom. But, I have realized that the God is all-knowing and all-powerful. Nothing is an accident or surprise for him. He has a purpose for everything. I just need to follow Him – guided by His Word, His light.