9:16 AM Being a Christian in a Non-Christian World
Its been terribly long since I've last posted anything in my blog. Now, i'm going to just pour out my feelings in this post to express how I had been feeling these past few months.
As many should know, I'm currently serving national service and will only complete my term this december 2007. Having being in the army for over a year, its been a really trying environment for me. 5 days a week in camp, and 2 days free from camp. 5 days in an environment without Christians (in which i mean - spritual Christians) ... People around me behave differently. Basically, almost everyone around me is a non-christian. A mixture of muslims, buddhists, free-thinkers, taoists, hindus here and there. Everyday in camp, I'm exposed to people of different backgrounds. Some rich, others poor, some from broken families, one parent families, parents who are away from home... People of different education levels, from PSLE, to O,N,A-level, ITE etc... Its a wide range of people whom i never knew existed in society.
I was from the obese batch of recruits in Tekong... then my platoon being 50 strong. Being in Tekong was a fun and relaxing experience for me. It was like a chalet, a holiday resort... No stress, no pressure. Just enjoyment with the company of my friends. Having just entered army, I had to try and adjust to having to do physical exercise almost everyday (which i adjusted very quickly)... Then I had to adjust to the lifestyle in the army, the regimentation, the kind of language, commands and stuff like that. Well, being a christian in a new environment, where so many non-christians were was extremely tough. I had heard before entering the army, that people in the army were very crude in their speech. The frequent use of vulgarity was ever so common in everyday life. I didn't really believe it till the day I enlisted. Thanks to God, I had made a promise to God, that I would keep my tongue from speaking vulgarities during my army term. And since then, I've managed to keep to my promise. I had also set in my heart the desire to witness to people, and be a good testimony for Christ. However this was really a very difficult thing to achieve.
In tekong, well, I had many chances to witness. Often i would have people sitting on my bed, asking me to tell them bible stories, tell them about dinosaurs, fossils, the creation of the earth and stuff like that. I was always very happy to tell them what I knew... However, all these interest only lasted for a few days to weeks, and soon after, everyone was like back to normal, no longer interested in Christianity. I shared the Gospel to many. Taking any chance available to share the gospel with an unbeliever. But, I guess, I had never been able to convince anyone that they needed God. Everyone was just so content with their lives. Content with what they had, content with the way they lived their lives. The smoking, the drinking, the clubbing, the sexual lifestyle they had outside... Everyone seemed too "busy" enjoying the desires of the flesh than to be interested in "religion".
I always knew that I was never in control of any "converstion' but God alone was the determining factor. If God did not will a person to be saved, no matter how much talking or actions i did, I could in no way convince him. This cold hard truth took very long to sink into my head. In fact, even up to now, I find it really difficult to accept this fact that I cannot play any role in the salvation of my friends except by praying. Praying had become such a common thing when I entered the army. Whenever I felt stressed, unhappy, or even discouraged, I would whisper a silent prayer to God, asking for guidance, for comfort and encouragement.
I believe that my experience in army has strengthened my faith very significantly, and has help me grow more spiritually mature. I Thank God for showing me so many "signs" of him working in my daily life, in answering prayers, and planning things to happen in such a perfect manner, that all pieces together to form a beautiful outcome. Even through my evangelism, and the devils evil devices, have I been able to strengthen my faith. Taking for example, I also see the devil working very hard to try and stop any form of evangelism from taking place. Example, everytime I were to start talking about the topic of God, or christianity to someone, Something will miraculously crop up,. The person's Handphone would ring or he would be called to do something for a sergeant or something like that. Or he'll just get distracted and do something else rather than listen. I feel that the harder I prayed, and the harder I tried to be a good christian and follow Christ's example, the more hardship, the more obstacles i meet along the way. As though the devil had set many obstacles to make me fall, to make me give up.
The days in Tekong quickly passed by... I had shared the gospel with several people, however, there were no visible fruits. Then i went to Guards. On the first day there, I cried. I was so shocked that I would end up in such a place. And I was worried if I could cope. I was placed in a Good company, with a Good OC, good PC, good PS, good sergeants (well, most of them). But these people changed along the way. The OC, PC and sergeants left and new ones came in and took their place. Anyway, initially, when i first got to know the people in my company, I was totally shocked. These people here were of an even lower education level than the friends I had in Tekong. There were so many A level and Diploma holders in Tekong, but when I came to guards, there were so few. I saw the way the people there spoke, I observed their conversations, their body language and everything about them. They were just so different. I had never ever known that in society there such people. (not meaning they are bad people). Being in good, reputatable schools all my life, and being in a christian family, I had never heard so much vulgarity, seen so many gangsters, seen so much tattoos, felt so left out. It took me some time before I could adjust to the people there. After AIT when I became a converted guardsman, I was given a choice to stay in my company or to move to a support unit, where life would probably be much easier for an obese soldier. I was thinking hard, between being in a place where almost everyone would be of the same educational level, where everyone would easily understand me, as compared to a place where the people are no as educated, and are more simplistic in nature, where I would have no common topic to talk about... I was praying about it, and somehow the answer that came to me was to stay with company. To reach out to these simple people, these not-so-well-off people. To be a help, an encouragement, a motivation to these people.
Close to the end of the year 2006, I finally joined back my church's youth fellowship. After over 2 years of absence, due to prejudice against certain people, and the dislike of seeing certain things. I finally came back to the youth fellowship. I remember that the 1st time i joined back was at a cottage meeting at cheryl's house. And on that day, I saw how much the youths had grown spritually, and how much more zealous they were for God. That was what made me feel so much like coming back. I regret leaving the YF for so long, because I missed the chance to encourage and strengthen the faith of certain people during my absence. I feel I failed to be there to be sort of an influence to the younger ones, and to set myself as an example for others to follow, but instead, like a coward, stayed away from YF for 2 whole years, hardly talking to any of the youths during that period of time. There was probably some element of Self-righteousness and unforgiveness in me at that time, which was preventing me from enjoying good christian fellowship for 2 years in my life.
Back to army life... After over 10 months of been with those people in guards, I have not regretted my decision to stay. Training was tough I must admit, but it was the lives of these people that kept me going. It was the love for these people that kept me pushing on in everyday's duties. I talked to many people in company, finding out more about their lives, their family, their ambitions, their dreams and aspirations. And I found out that i was more fortunate then them in many ways. I started to be very sympathetic towards the people in my company. I felt very sad for many of the people who were struggling financially, or who were having family problems. I wanted to help, but didn't know how. I didn't start any evangelism in Guards till late november in 2006. This was due to the immense heartache and sorrow I'd experienced from past evangelism. However, as I grew to love my friends more, i just felt the need to reach out to their souls too. To feed their spritual needs rather than just the physical aspect... Hence, around november, I just kept sharing the gospel with my platoon/ company mates ... However, once again, I was faced with a lot of opposition from the devil, and from the hardened hearts of men. This time, these emotions that overwhelmed me were even greater, and I started crying again whenever I prayed for my friends.
I dislike the feeling of getting over emotional and start crying while praying. It makes me feel weak, feel so unmanly, yet, whenever I think of my unsaved loved ones, I cannot help but feel a sense of uselessness. I feel useless that I cannot do anything to help, so I spend long periods of time pleading with God, that He might open the eyes and hearts of my friends.
Up till now, I'm still struggling within myself, finding it hard to accept that people do not seek God, and will just keep rejecting the truth. I feel a heart piercing feeling when i see people behaving in a Godless manner, and speaking of things that are just so ungodly. I foolishly pray to God to ask him to forgive my friends for not knowing that what they do offends God. I know i cannot pray on their behalf, for forgiveness only comes when the individual confesses it to Christ himself. But, in desperation, I just stupidly pray such prayers.
I see the sinfulness of the world. The Sins of mankind, the sinful nature and thoughts of man. I see the utter ignorance of man, how lost man is without God, How man reject what is right, and do wrong on purpose. I see how people do things to hurt themselves. I see how people do things without considering the consequences. I see stubborness, Selfishness, jealousy, Hatred, Malice, Evil. Pride, Slothfulness, and all other negative characters of man...
Man is on a direct path to hell without God. Man will just die and destroy themself if they do not know God. Man will do things to hurt themselves because they don't know how to stay safe... WHY? because they want to do the things that they like and are unwilling to Conform to christ-likeness, but enjoy the pleasures of the world.
No one would give up riches, immoral sexual behavior, smoking, drinking, clubbing and other joys of the world for God. Who will? Hardly anyone believes in God anymore. Or maybe, just no one believes in Jesus anymore. No one cares where they are going after death. Heaven or hell does not matter, as long as they have fun on earth and enjoy life to the max.
This is what hurts me. I wish the bible was wrong in saying that many will perish. I wish the bible was wrong in saying that many are called, and few are chosen, because this means that I will not see many / majority of my friends in heaven. And i can do nothing about it except pray for the person. I cannot make a person believe, neither can i make him feel convicted of his sins...
Where is the Joy of being saved and seeing your friends perish? ultimately, when I die, will I be able to leave this world with a smile knowing my best friends will meet me someday? Or will I still be worrying and praying with tears for God to convert them?
Who says a Christian's life is full of happiness and joy and peace? Who said a christian's life does not have any unhappiness, any sorrow, or worry, or burden? Why do people evangelise in this manner , telling all the positive points about believing In christ, yet not tell them the hardship we will face.
I can say that I was indeed "happier" as a non-christian. There were so many pleasures, So much fun things to do, there was no restrictions, no boundaries. I could do anything i wish. I could lie, steal, cheat, talk filthy language, tell dirty jokes, and behave in a unruly manner. I could just have my sundays free and not go to church. I could go clubbing, drinking , smoking and engage in sex any time i like... But these happiness cannot be compared to the happiness i get after being a christian. After I became a christian, I stopped living a worldly life. I became a new person, with new priorities, objectives, and aims in life. I stopped speaking vulgarites, and changed many bad habits. I started to feel compelled to listen to God's word and avoid things that were not right in God's sight. It was difficult at first to control all the urges to be like the world. But after some time, It becomes so easy to do what is right when the situation requires it. The type of joys we get, do not come from sex, beer, bad company, or playing, but come from getting a chance to share the gospel, having a chance to answer questions of friends who ask about christianity, and the greatest joy being watching and hearing a friend come to christ. These type of happiness cannot be measured in any manner. It can hardly be described either. So great is this happiness that all the happiness in a year of a non-christian cannot measure up to one instant when I hear of the conversion of an unbeliever. But obviously, I haven't mentioned the hardship, the sorrow and the pain.
As a christian, we are constantly being attacked by the devil. Who wants us to turn away from God, curse him and carry on with our worldly lifestyle. We are being poked fun off by non-believers, saying we don't know how to enjoy life, saying we're stupid, rigid, strict, hypocrites, saying what we believe in is rubbish. The things we do are considered foolish in the sight of man. We try our best to tell the truth all the time. We try not to lie. We help people unselfishly. We sacrifice our time, and ourselves totally for the service of others. We give our lives for other's convenience. We don't go to places where the world finds its enjoyment (pubs, brothels). We are labelled as not open minded, we are often criticised and laughed at. We constantly find ourselves worrying for the salvation of others. We shed tears for our loved ones, we spend many hours praying for them, and crying over their sinful behaviors. The pain and sorrow that I've experienced over these hours of praying is so bad that if I could just end my life as a sacrifice to save my friends, I would willingly die, for Death would be so much less painful than having to live a life full of heartache, day after day seeing your friend dead in his sins. We're told not to worry. But HOW CAN WE DO SO??? Loving others is so difficult.
To Love, it hurts. try loving your enemy. Someone you dislike, but yet you try to be as nice to the person as you can. You will get irritated at yourself, to why do you treat the person well although you don't like him. Love hurts when you are nice to a person and he doesn't appreciate it and attacks you for it. Love hurts when you constantly see your friends hurt themselves. Love hurts when you think of your loved one who is still unsaved. Love hurts when you see your loved one committing a sin. Love hurts when you try to share the gospel with a person and he directly rejects. Christianity is based on Love and it is so painful to love. and also so hard to love. How can there be non-stop joy, happiness and peace?
Believing is not easy. How can one believe without seeing? Its just by faith alone. but much as we often say we believe, do we harbour doubts in our mind? Do we believe a bit, and don't believe a bit?
What is it like being a christian in a non-christian world? It is like putting a big juicy worm in the midst of hungry crows... If the Worm does not hide in the ground, it will be picked off and get eaten. even if it hides in the ground, but does not have good grip or depth, the crow will still be able to pick it out of the ground. Here in my illustration, the big Juicy worm is a person. The open air above the ground is the world. The Crow is the devil, the ground is the Word of God.
The longer the worm stays in the open air, the greater the chance for the crow to eat it. Similarly, The longer a person chooses to dwell in the world and enjoy the pleasures of the world, the easier it is for the devil to get hold of him.
If the worm is partially in the ground, the crow cannot get the worm that easily, but it still can get the worm. Similarily, If a person has God's word as his foundation, He will not be so much of the world, he'll have self control over sinning on purpose and will thus not fall prey to the devil so easily. But as long as he lets go of God's word, and relaxes, The devil will be able pick him up and consume him.
If the worm is deeply hidden in the ground, the crow will have to dig very far to try and get the worm. similarly, If a person is firmly grounded in the word of God, the devil will find lots of difficulty to try and get him to fall... The deeper you are grounded in God's word, the safer you are. But not to forget, the crow can dig in the ground, so the worm must continually dig deeper and deeper to prevent the crow from getting to him. So we should all continually reinforce ourselves with scripture and grow in the knowledge of scripture, so we will stay safe from the devil.
The Moral of this illustration is that we should be conformed to the word/will of God and not be conformed to the world. We should aspire to be more Christ-like and avoid worldly influence. But definitely, this is not a very easy thing to do. Remember. The people hated christ, and will likewise hate we who try to be like christ. We must be ready to face opposition, ready to be prosecuted for our beliefs. We will be lonesome, have a lack of (worldly)friends, and many a time have lots of worries and thoughts bothering us, but we must not give up. Then only at the end can we say we have run the race and fought a good fight, perservering to the end. If in any part of our life we were to forsake Christ for the world, we will fall prey to the devil.
Well... I have said a lot tonight. Its 3.30am. Pouring out all my thoughts but not really in order. To those who read this, i'm sorry if some parts seen rather confusing.
Anyway.. ok, back to army. Now, I'm starting again to feel very alone. I feed the urge for christian fellowship, but as you all know, I have none. So my only source of relief would be the weekends when i meet for Youth fellowship on saturdays and sunday when I get to hear a message and go for sunday school. Life is a chore. Having to endure 5 days without Godly fellowship. To survive, I spent lots of time doing quiet time, lots of time praying and trying my best to share the gospel. But, this is as usual a very painful task.
I'm now in the midst of recovery, as I had just had another very painful experience from evangelism... in the meantime, i've been trying to encourage my friends to stop smoking. Cause it hurts me seeing them cause harm to their own bodies. O, please pray for me that i'll not be so emotional, cause sometimes I'd cry over such stuff and feel very upset for long hours. How I wish God will quickly answer my prayers cause I have so many unanswered prayers and so many unsaved loved ones. Praying for each one individually usually takes me around 2 hours in which I have even fallen asleep once or twice while attempting to do so... Now i'm concentrating on the friends that I love most. How I wish that with persistant prayer, God would soften the hearts of my friends to accept the Gospel. Well... Giving up a sinful, worldly lifestyle to live a life that is christlike is going to be another great difficulty, but with God, all things are possible. May God help us all!
Well... to those christians out there that so happen to read this, Please pray for my friends in camp, that one day they will get to know the same God that we know, and that they will be able to develop a personal relationship with Him too, and enjoy grace, mercy and the free gift of salvation from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Please help me specifically to pray for, Ching yueh, Bao Wen, John, Yatim, Tuan... That God will grant them the willpower to quit smoking.
And help me pray for the salvation of these following people whom i've witnessed to: Ching Yueh, Yong Sheng, Jun Guang, Bao Wen, Donovan, Qin Xiong, Zhi Qiang, John, Quee, Yong Quan, Ethan, Lucas, Thiam Yeow, Gary, Gavin, HanQuan, Anusha, and many others i had left out.
And to everyone else who know me... It is my deepest wish you will recieve christ and believe in him wholeheartedly so that I will meet you in heaven someday. Should anything happen to me, at least I can go with the ease of mind knowing you're safe in the hands of the Lord.
May The Lord bless You all richly! Till he Comes.
With Love and all my heart, Your Brother in christ, Luke
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Welcome to my blog, I'm Luke and I started this blog to pen down some of my thoughts regarding what I believe in as a christian.
In no way am I attempting to prove that I am superior in terms of knowledge.
For whatever you may disagree upon, or think is unright, please raise it up at my tag-board. I will answer
what I can to my utmost best.
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I hope through this blog may I be able to strengthen believers and bring non-believers to christ. Do pray for me. God bless you all.