20 April 2013 by James Hoh CM-
Chong Keng Sen was one artist who could not put down his paint-brush. Head of the Communication Department of Maktab Seni Lukis (College of Art, Kuala Lumpur) his passion for painting drove his life. He was also strong in his sentiment about something else – the Bible. He was so against it that if anyone were to gave him a copy, he would tear it up.
As God would have it, his life took a 90 degrees turn when he started to read the Bible to disprove its contents. That started him on a miraculous journey to discover God.
Today Chong Ken Seng is the pastor of the Hope Evangelical Free Church (EEFC), Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur which he started the Chinese Congregation in 1989.
Recalling his past Pastor Chong said, “Those days, when I wasn’t a Christian, I loved painting so much that couldn’t let go of my paint-brush; I painted a new piece every day. I had virtually sketched all the temples and churches in town.”
He lived like a gypsy, painting day and night and sometimes even to the extent of sleeping in his car. But those days are over.
When disproving God’s Word proved ‘Fatal’
Pastor Chong did not come to Christ because of someone’s leading. He came to the Lord by reading the Scripture himself.
“Before I became Christian, I would tear the Bible apart if someone were to bring it to me. One day I had a plan – a plan to disprove what the Bible says, so I started reading, looking for faults. My plan was to attack the Christians,” he said. He was truly anti-Christ during his lecturing days at Maktub Seni Lukis.
“One day I borrowed a Bible from one of my students. He was afraid that I would tear it apart, but I swore I would bring it back to him in a week’s time,” he said.
He started to read but he couldn’t understand. He read so many chapters and books in the Old Testament and New Testament but nothing appealed or made sense to him.
“Finally, when I came to the Book of Romans, I got very excited because in those days there were movies about the Romans Empire. The Book of Romans related to me. But by the 3rd chapter, I was already ‘dead’, as if the words from the Bible pierced my heart.”
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. You who judge others, don’t you judge yourself?
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24, NIV)
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. (Romans 2:1, NIV)
But because he was a ‘lone ranger’ and being very proud and snobbish, he did not ask for help. “I never liked mixing with people so having a discussion like our conversation now was impossible!” he said.
“I knelt down and prayed. That was about 4.00pm a day in May, 1975. I said, ‘I know I am a sinner…but now what must I do?’ Nobody helped me.
“I don’t even know how to accept Christ. So I continued reading the New Testament and within one week I finished reading it seven times.” Pastor Chong said.
As he had confessed, those were the days when he could not live if he had not painted for a day. But then things changed. “I read, read and read and forgot about painting! I began to have understanding when I read even though I hadn’t been to church yet,” he added.
Then he started to look for a church and went to St John’s Cathedral because it was the most impressive church at that time, he said.
“I woke up very early at 7am and took a bus for 0.15 cent. But when I arrived there, they had already finished and were proceeding to pray for the dead in purgatory. The people saw me but nobody spoke to me. I thought to myself ‘Why like this, I have been reading the Bible seven times but it is not like that. The Christians is all about loving one another, I felt so funny as I didn’t understand the difference between Catholics and (other) Christians then. I was very disappointed because it was very different from what I read in the Bible.
“Then I went to St Mary’s. As I went in I felt out of place as everybody there were Indians. It was a Tamil service! I got even more disappointed. I had gone to church twice yet nothing has happened.
“I looked through my sketches again… Methodist church, the Wesley Methodist Church up the hill! This time I got smarter and went there before Sunday and discovered there was an evening service. Dr Tan Chee Koon used to be in that service. I went there for one month and even attended the Bible study. I wasn’t satisfied because I felt it was too systematic and administrative. I felt very dry. I was a young Christian and I only compared what I read in the Bible with what I saw.
“I know there is a place for all this but during that time I was seeking something else. No more church to go to as I didn’t know there were also churches inside shop-lots and homes (house church),” Pastor Chong said.
At that juncture, some of his students who were Christians began to take a liking to him because his character had changed for the better. He no longer cursed people. But there was the other group who said that he had gone ‘kuku’ (mad).
‘Kuku’ or what? Find out about Pastor Chong’s new spiritual experiences in our next segment: AN OPEN HEAVEN AND AN ANGELIC EXPERIENCE
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