I was born into a middle class family in Shanghai but was later moved to Fuzhou with my grandparents who would have considered even the thought of a God impossible. It was not until I traveled to America and met a man who changed my life that I was introduced to God. Then here, in America, that man slowly began a messenger of the good news of God. At first, when I was still young, I never understood what he truly meant when he preached, I only had the knowledge of the Lord in my brain, but not the grace of God in my heart. Heck, I crossed a tunnel a child was never supposed to cross and came out the other side completely unscathed, physically and mentally.
However, one fateful night in bed, this man warned me of the mystery of the future. He said “You may never know what the future may hold for you. You may die tomorrow, or Jesus Christ may descend from the heavens in the final act of judgment. And if you haven’t yet believed, then what are going to do? It will have been far too late by then. After you are cast into the fiery depths of hell, there will be no return. But there is still time, so take this night to confess your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your savior so that you may dine with me in the realm of God.” (Okay, so maybe I overdramatized this a little bit, but it was pretty much the same premises). From that night on, nothing was the same.
When I was still in Fuzhou, I used to get into countless fistfights with my fellow kindergarteners, but in eighth grade, my friend told me that I was one of the calmest people he had ever met in his entire life. Another time, when I was with my youth group talking and having fun, one of my friends brought up a time when I got angry at her, but another one of my friends backed me up by exclaiming that he had only seen me get truly angry a few times for as long as he’s known me. Even my perspective on death changed. Before I had known God, I used to think of what death was like (to me): a pitch black limbo of nothingness with darkness stretching as far as the eye can see. But now, after knowing God, I could take a bullet for a stranger in the hopes that he/she would later become a Christian and be liberated from their sinful nature. The funny thing is that this all happened naturally. When you grow taller and enter puberty, you change often without noticing a difference in yourself. It doesn’t mean that the difference still isn’t there, it just means that you just never notice it. That was similar to my spiritual growth: like a tree. No matter how many people are watering a tree, it will continue to grow at the same pace. The wind blows wherever it pleases. If you trust in God, you will see this spiritual growth as well and you too will become more like God with each passing day. My life is by no definition perfect, but that is the brilliant thing: is that God can not only help you grow in times of joy and pleasure but also of suffering and doubt.
Here is what he did for me: In fifth grade, I was being bullied and picked on a lot and was showing signs of depression. I was having horrible grades and horrible relationships with not only my classmates but my teachers. Combine that with a feeling of disappointment about myself for not being able to make it to another school and you have a recipe for the worst year of my life. It didn’t look like there was much hope left and I was almost certain I would never be able to succeed again. To make things worse, middle school was approaching and my parents were worried that I was not prepared enough to take it on. So, grade school ended and middle school was beginning. I expected to fail, but to my surprise, God did not let that happen that year. In the first year of middle school, I got straight As. That was a miracle of God that I did not expect. The reason I am in front of this podium right now on the fourth of September is because i have decided that it was about time. It was about time that I stopped truly doubting God and strengthen my faith once and for all. Because I know that I already have the faith, knowledge and experience to be baptized, I decided to do it now. Why wait to have the fruits of baptism when you could do it now?