Growing up, religion never really crossed my mind. I was born into a single parent, non-religious family, with a freethinking mother and Buddhist grandparents. In my childhood, I often followed my grandparents to temples, burning incense and taking comforting in whichever god answered my prayers and gave me peace at the time. Religious epics like “Journey to the West” and “Nezha” seemed to pique my interest, with fond memories of visits to Har Par Villa, where the “10 gates of hell” were my favourite attraction.
My first brush with Christianity came with my uncle, whom I particularly adored. While my mother was busy at work, he regularly made it a point to bring my twin sister and I for outings so that we would not miss out on our childhood. One of those days, he brought us to a children’s bible class session at a church, where we were gifted our first bibles - a red one for my sister, and a blue one for me. In addition, my uncle also gave us a kid’s compilation of bible stories, which quickly became one of my favourite books.
Despite these experiences, I never thought to continue going to church, nor to explore my spirituality in these early years of my life.
Things changed on the advent of my secondary school days however. My sister and I started being plagued with the uncertainty of eternity. This terror seemed to be jumping out at us from every avenue possible - from my grandfather’s death, to horror movies, and nightmares that haunted our sleep. The two of us would not dare to fall asleep at night in the fear that we would die in our sleep, or be attacked by ghosts, as we “barricaded” our beds with pillows and bolsters each night. Every day we were plagued with a sense of unease. Eternity felt like this never ending consciousness floating alone in a white vacuum, where no one even remembers me nor will I ever exist anywhere again, except floating in this white vacuum forever and ever and ever…
Then I got close with a classmate in secondary school, Joann. She constantly told me stories about her church friends and camps, introducing me to songs of worship. And one day, she invited me to her church. Through meeting the people in church and the lessons, I gradually gained a sense of peace. I learnt the way to God, through Jesus, and became certain of how eternity looked like. The nightmares ceased, and I stopped worrying about my eternal life. Looking back, I can see the God calling me to go back to church and gave me peace, reaching out all the time to have this relationship with me.
I realize now that this was all in God’s plan. Through my crisis, I found a wonderful and committed relationship with the Father, who leads and guides our lives in both big and small ways. And I know now that when we die, we are not going to disappear into nothingness or float in an empty whiteness forever. We will be joyfully reunited with God in heaven, our home.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
John 14:1-4 NIV