In our Christian journey through life, we are called to take up our cross for the Lord not just in ministry but also in the personal details of life. What would it be like though if you were the only Christian among your immediate circle for much of your life?
For many, it might mean being alone in loneliness, but for two young friends who eventually came to know each other on a deeper level, this has been a journey of friendship and intimacy, not just between the two, but also with the Lord and with fellow Christians that God has brought into their lives.
A few weeks ago, Brother Max Ch’ng and Sis Yen Chi Loo from the UCSI Christian Fellowship shared about their Christian faith with Christianity Malaysia.
The Beginnings of the Journey of Faith
Max is an exuberant young man of 22 years, a final year student at UCSI. Yen Chi is a gentle girl of 20 years, a first year student who is studying at the same university. Before they met at the university’s Christian Fellowship, they had not known each other. They would find however that they shared remarkably parallel backgrounds.
‘My parents are not Christian,’ Max shared. ‘When I was a pre-schooler, I remembered the time I went to church singing songs, praying before a meal, and all that but it did not leave an impact on my life. As I grew up, I lost such exposure as well as my parents were afraid that I would be influenced.’ Max would come to know the Lord on a personal level only much later.
Yen Chi meanwhile was also born into a non-Christian family. She related that when she was young, she had been dedicated to Guan Yin. ‘I was known as a ‘naughty child’ when I was young as my behavior was hard to control. My parents finally decided to let Guan Yin “adopt” me so that I will change my behaviour and become a good child. As I grew up, I just followed whatever my parents said and did not know much about Jesus.’
All this changed when Yen Chi was nine years old, when one of her teachers shared to her about Jesus and took her to church. Since then, she went to church every week. ‘I was surprised that my parents did not stop me, but at that time while I received exposure to the teachings of the Bible, they did not leave a big impact on me. Perhaps I was too young to understand then.’
Yen Chi would however make a brave decision to accept Christ into her life in 2011, when she was in Form 3, with the guidance of her pastor from church.
Taking a Step of Faith into Relationship with the Lord
Yen Chi shared that her decision to allow Christ into her life was a meaningful one but it was not easy. ‘My faith was not strong enough and the thought of most of my family and friends who were not of the same faith shook me.’ While her parents were not mean to her, allowing her to attend Sunday School, they would often remind her of her “godmother” especially during the Guan Yin birthday festival celebrations.
‘One time a religious leader put his hand on my head and asked me to choose between two identities and between the two faiths. I was terrified and there were so many people staring at me. I caved in but I struggled in my heart for a long time, having no idea on which is the truth.
‘But the same year, God showed His mercy and grace by touching me once again in a church camp. I made the sinner’s prayer, and this time I recognized that Jesus was the savior of my life. After that, I no longer doubted Him.’
Max shared when he was younger, Christianity and Christians did not mean anything to him beyond a certain level of curiosity. But while he was only fascinated by the enthusiasm and friendliness of the Christians he met, he found himself starting going to church consistently over the following weeks.
‘I believe that it was also because this time I was already a teenager and able to reflect on the message that was preached, so that it brought knowledge to me. As time went on, I started to get interested to learn more and more about Jesus. I participated in cell group and finally got my own Bible. I was eager to learn more about God.’ It had come to a point where he knew that he had to decide between God and the traditions of his parents.
‘It was a hard decision to make,’ he shared. ‘I felt a real tug-of-war, but fortunately my aunty was a Christian and I shared my thoughts and heart with her. Not long after I accepted Christ, I called my mom and told her the truth. I was very afraid, I was trembling over the phone. Thank God my aunty who is my pillar of support was there, but my immediate family did not welcome the news.
‘My mum warned me not to get baptized because she thought that it would ‘turn’ me into a Christian. Of course I knew that baptism is not a magic ritual but it is a public proclamation of faith and a new life of participation with Christ.’ After a year of being a Christian, in June 2013, Max made a decision to undergo baptism.
The Transformative Life in Christ
‘Since the day I fully accepted Christ into my life, I was fully committed in cell group, church service, Christian fellowship, reading the Bible and much more,’ Max related. ‘I grew a lot in the knowledge of God and I came to identify the nature and character of God. I felt the love of God touching my heart deeply, I do not know why. Maybe it’s partly because of my personality.
‘The recognition that God is loving, full of mercy, gracious, full of compassion, and slow to anger brought me a sense of belonging. I felt really blessed to know God and I was awed that He would choose me among my family members into this hope of eternal life. Many times I felt unfit and undeserving but eventually I came to understand that it was God’s plan for me.
‘He installed the Good News in me so that I would be able to depend on God’s grace and power. It changed my perspective towards people and things in life. I cannot explain it but today I recognize that the way we treat people, and the perspective and mindset we have when we look at things, matter greatly.
‘Though I still struggle with problems and sin many times, I know that my God is faithful and it is about the quality of my faith. No matter how big the struggle, I know that God will help me through it. Basically the Christian life is about progressing to be more and more like Jesus.’
Yen Chi reached the turning point of her life when she was 18 years old. ‘I did not follow my parents to the religious ceremony anymore. I started to do devotion and prayer every morning. My relationship with God grew stronger and stronger the more I spent time with Him.’
She shared that God also changed her mindset and her heart, even bringing her through checkpoints in her life. She made a decision to study in UCSI as the application for her scholarship was approved. There were a lot of problems regarding course selection due to the late enquiry, and she had to exchange her course. But in the midst of such problems, God brought a friend from the UCSI Christian Fellowship who happened to be in the very course that she found herself in!
God also brought her through a troubled patch in relationship. ‘This is why I say my 18 years old is my turning point. Not only have there been changes in my lifestyle as a Christian, I have also grown mature after a troubled relationship. The most significant change in life I would say is the knowledge of how to make God as the center of my life.’
Two Coming Together in Relationship
Yen Chi met Max for the first time when she started joining the UCSI Christian Fellowship. However, they did not get to really talk to each other after the first meeting, until the CF camp in 2014 gave them a chance to share about their family background, how they became Christians, and Max even shared with her about how he overcame the troubles in a previous relationship.
Not long before Max had really come to know Yen Chi, he had gone through some pains in a relationship. After the broke-up, he prayed to God that if that there was to be an opportunity for a second relationship, that relationship must glorify God.
‘As the commitment from life had been piling up, again I prayed to God for a relationship that would come through His blessing, and I asked God for it to be before I left university. And God answered my prayers! This 2nd relationship has been full of joy, peace, and most importantly, it pleases God.’
Relating about their time together in the CF camp, Yen Chi shared, ‘Max’s testimony about his life encouraged me a lot to keep my faith in God. After the camp due to timetable and transport issues, I didn’t join CF for one semester and did not really keep in touch with him.’
‘My first impression of Yen Chi was that she’s someone who is really passionate for the Lord and a very positive and strong woman. Because of that, I had a positive feelings towards her,’ Max expressed.
‘But at that time, I dare not trust my heart as I afraid that it was just a feeling and may not be accurate. Yen Chi came from a non-Christian family and I knew that she is strong to go through all the challenges and still keep her faith in the Lord.’
In 2015, with the start of a new year, UCSI CF had established a Mandarin CG specially for those who wanted to grow in the Lord but whose primary language was Mandarin. Max and Yen Chi joined together. ‘From there onwards I could see that Max is passionate about serving God, but I also had gone through a broken relationship and dare not trust my feelings,’ Yen Chi said. ‘I prayed for God to bring a sign that this relationship is according to His will for us.
‘There is always a test before God wants to bless us with something. It was same in my relationship with Max. The moment when I was very sure that this was a mutual feeling, one of my friends told me that he had heard from another friend who knew Max that this relationship might be one-sided.
‘I was so confused but I prayed to God, surrendered everything to Him, and waited for His guidance. Later I found that Max had also been fasting and praying for a week over this matter, and yes! After Max had fasted and prayed, he confessed to me! The most amazing thing was, the moment when we said yes to each other, we prayed together, not only giving thanks to Him but surrendering our relationship into His hands.’
Before this, Max had also not known that Yen Chi liked him. He related that when one of his friends told him that Yen Chi also liked him, he thought at first it was a joke. And the amazing thing was that this friend was the same one who had warned Yen Chi that the relationship might be one-sided! The friend had been convinced of the genuineness and pureness of the feelings Max and Yen Chi had for each other.
Max and Yen Chi expressed their hopes and wishes. ‘We have been together for 6 months now and still counting on. We never give up to spend time with God every week, to learn His words and to pray together,’ Yen Chi shared.
‘We believe that we are the special assignment to each other, by learning how to lean on each other’s strengths, forgiving each other’s weaknesses, learning to be patient, humble, and gentle in love. Most importantly, we always remind ourselves God is the center of our relationship and that a relationship work best when God is in the heart of it. We still have a lot to learn but we believe when we put God in the center of our relationship, He will provide His light and the relationship will be richly blessed.’
‘God taught us so much. He taught us about love, honour, patience, and a lot more,’ Max expressed. ‘We keep learning how to work with the difference that we have, but not against it. For we believe though we may not be perfect, but we can learn to understand each other well throughout this relationship.
‘God has chosen us to be together. I seriously feel that and I am confident about it. We make it our commitment to build each other up by putting our best in coming together for prayer and to learn and share with each other His word.’
It is the couple’s common hope and goal to work this relationship towards marriage and towards the establishment of a God-centered family, teaching the children how to fear God and have a personal relationship and encounter with Him.
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