Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why I am a Christian

The following is taken from my website (which is now not available):

I became a Christian on 5 August 2000. After looking through the journal which I kept when I was in Delta Wing, I recount the following story to the best of my ability:

You can't prove that God exists.
I have been an atheist most of my life. I believed strongly that God does not exist, because there was no scientific evidence for it, and because there was no need for God in any of our scientific theories. I was always intrigued by the objectivity and simplicity of math and science: I was convinced that our world was inherently meaningless, and that we could invent systems of meaning using symbolic systems to describe and predict events in our universe.

Arguing with Christians
I used to argue with Christians on their beliefs. It seems that their system of meaning, built on a symbolic system that assumes the existence of a supernatural and all powerful being, was also infallible. Just as science, built on the axioms of relativity and quantum mechanics, was infallible. I didn't like the way Christians put down the Theory of Evolution, and I didn't like the way they put so many restrictions on the things they can and cannot do in life. What I did like was their strong sense of purpose and morality, as well as their love for one another. However, there was no reason for me to change my point of view: I was very comfortable with the way my life was turning out.

Prayer at Harvest Event
Clarence and Ruiwen (from the Student Council) invited me to a Christian event at the National Stadium. A speaker from Argentina was sharing on how God had changed his country and people. There were even some miracle healing at the end of the talk. Just when the helpers were passing round the offering bags amongst the audience, I remarked to Clarence that it seems to me that the speaker was trying to deceive the audience of their money. Brainwashed by the so-called "miracle healings", the audience was tricked into believing in the speaker's supernatural anointing and donated money for fear of God. Clarence and Ruiwen spoke to me calmly, and asked if I thought it possible that God really exists. I replied that it was possible but unlikely. They asked if I would take a moment to imagine that God really exists and pray to Him to reveal Himself to me. Seeing that there was no harm in doing so, I agreed and closed my eyes for a short prayer. When I opened my eyes again, there was no thunder or lightning. There was no sign at all.

A Strange Dream: God says "I exist!"
That prayer was made around June 1999. One year later, when I was in Officer Cadet School, I was sleeping one Sunday night in July 2000 in my bunk. I just returned from a relaxing weekend, and everything was going smoothly in training. That night, I dreamt that I built a wonderful new invention: an escalator that travels to the sky! The invention was ingenious in that the bottom step would break up and reassemble itself on the top of the escalator, hence raising the flight of steps towards the sky. The people on earth were all very proud of me, and they came to the Launch Ceremony to bid me farewell. All of them were extremely happy and excited for me, except for my sister, who appeared as a 5 year old girl in my dream (in real life, she was 18). She seemed sad and was tearing. Now, as the escalator launched off, candy was released from the bottom of the escalator, and everyone scrambled to get their greedy hands on them. Only my sister stood at one side and continued to watch. The escalator climbed towards the sky, and soon, I could not see the earth. I was surrounded by clouds and blue sky. I wanted to reach the heavens to see the moon, the planets and the stars. However, my sense direction then became confused: I did not know where was Up. Like the people on weird staircases in M. C. Esher paintings, I flipped myself onto the other side of the escalator and the escalator changed its direction of movement. After several of such confusing changes, I found myself coming back to Earth. I could not figure out why my invention could not ascend to the heavens. Suddenly, everything blacked out. I knew I was semi-awake. I did not hear any voice, nor see any words, but there was a loud and strong meaning: "I EXIST!" I woke up and found myself in my bunk. I was shivering with cold sweat, and I knew something just spoke to me, and I knew that something was God. The meaning did not tell me that it came from God, but in my heart, I just knew, somehow, that it was from God. I was really scared. Lying in my bed, too afraid to move, I heard voices murmuring around me going, "He's awake! He's awake!" I was so afraid because I knew I was not dreaming anymore, but the voices were still continuing. And I knew that the meaning did not speak to me in my dream, it spoke to me when I was almost awake. Eventually, out of tiredness, I fell asleep again.

Discovering God's Identity
When I woke up the next morning, I did not dare to tell anyone what had happened. Eric Ong was my room-mate then, but I did not tell him about my dream. I sat on my bed, shaken by the events in the night. I closed my eyes and spoke to the God who had given me the meaning: "God, tell me if you are the God of Islam, or of Buddhism, or of Christianity. If you are real, let me know you are real." That Wednesday, Joseph, also from my platoon, came up to me and invited me to go to church with him that Saturday night (5 Aug 2003) It was weird because no one from my platoon has ever invited me to their church. I agreed to go because I wanted to find out more about Christianity. It was as though the Christian God heard my prayer and was beckoning to me.

A Prayer for Jackson
A more miraculous thing happened during Exercise Zebra that Saturday. In Exercise Zebra, we had to execute a platoon attack on a knoll that had communication trenches dug everywhere on it. One of my section-mates, Jackson, was rushing up the hill in the final assault, and he accidentally fell into a trench. His chest hit the concrete side of the trench, and he was in a lot of pain. He could not breath, and he thought he was going to die. At this point of time, I was at the side of the hill while I watched all the instructors rush to him. I closed my eyes and did my first serious prayer: "God, if you are real, please help Jackson, protect him from harm and let no bones be hurt in him. If he is hurt, may be recover quickly so that he can resume with his training soon." So Jackson was rushed to the hospital where the doctors inspected his injury. Two hours later, he returned to the platoon safe and sound. "What happened?", we asked him. He told us that the doctor thought that he had broken a few ribs, but when they took an X-ray, they realized the everything was okay. Furthermore, there was no cut or bruises on him. He still felt a bit sore, but other than that everything was fine. I was so excited and happy for him. I told some people about my prayer for him, but no one believed me.

A Prophet Speaks on Dreams and Visions
After Ex Zebra, we booked out, and I followed Joseph to church. That day, a prophet was visiting the church (Faith Community Baptist Church at Marine Parade). He spoke about the book of Revelations and the end times, and how young men and women would have dreams and visions during those days (Acts 2:16-17). I was so shocked that he was talking about dreams and visions; it was as though he knew what I was going through then. My heart pounded wildly, wondering if it was just another coincidence. The events of Ex. Zebra that morning had already shaken my mind and my spirit. When it came to the time for the alter call, the pastor asked those who felt the need to know Jesus Christ to step forward so that they can be prayed for. There was such a strong tugging on my heart that I responded to his call, and asked Jesus to step into my life. I prayed that the Lord would teach me more about Himself.

Discovering God's Character
Two days later, when we booked in again on Monday night (7 Aug 2003), my platoon-mate Adrian came to me and said that his girlfriend Carolyn bought a book for me. At that time, I did not know Carolyn at all, and she did not know who I was. However, Carolyn had heard from Adrian that on some occasions, I had attended the platoon Christian fellowship (back then, they used to get together to talk about the problems they experienced during training, and to sing worship songs). Adrian explained that Carolyn and him were walking down Orchard Road on Saturday when they passed by a Christian bookstore. She suddenly felt a strong urge to buy a book for me. The book was "Questions of Life: a beginner's guide to the Christian Faith" by Nicky Gumbel. I was shaken by Adrian's story, because the book answered my prayer to know more about Jesus. Could it still be a coincidence? Even then, I did not dare to tell Adrian or anyone else about my dream.

My Sister's Prayer for my Conversion
About two weeks later, I decided to tell my sister about my dream. I had been afraid to share because my family was Taoist and I knew my parent would object to my being a Christian. I told my sister how I felt she had a role to pay in my conversion because she was different from everyone else in the dream: she was sad. She gave me a surprised look, was silent for a while before she told me how about one week before my dream, she went to a church with a friend, and there (even though she wasn't a Christian), she prayed that I would be converted. Today, I am still very amazed and thankful to my sister for her prayer.

The Lord's Grace and Love
I thank the Lord for His grace in revealing Himself to me. I was such a wretched and rotten person, yet He was willing to bring me into His Kingdom. He was changed me in so many ways since July 2000. I am so glad I have seen the true light instead of still being kept in the dark, bounded by my reluctance to accept new ideas due to my strong intellectualism. Sometimes, I ask Him what the significance of the escalator in the dream was. He told me that the escalator represent how I try to reach Him or disprove Him using logic. However, just as the escalator failed to reach the heavens, so will my logical attempts. In my philosophical debates, I would be lost and confused, always coming back to square one. What I really needed was a step of Faith. He revealed that all my life, this issue of Faith is something which I would constantly be struggling with on many new and deeper levels. But He assured me that He would be there with me every step of the way. Because He loves me.


Karen said...

haha i read this entry of urs. interesting. by the way it was i who wrote and deleted the past three comments. btw can i have ur hp number? u sms me on mine? thanks

Sterling Wyatt Camden V said...

wow. i'm on the verge of tears reading this. God is so good. and i relate deeply to your struggles with logic and intellectualism.