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Having received a few feedback regarding certain entries in our competition, we feel we need to clarify a few things:
- This competition is based on each writer’s individual experience and provided they can testify to them being genuine, we consider all testimonies valid and eligible for running. We hold to the guideline that each writer is entitled to their own opinions about their experiences, and in their expression of said opinions.
- Currently, this is still part of an ongoing competition. As such, the articles listed on this page are still under the prerogative of each writer and Asian Beacon will not meddle in any way with any content by any writer. If we ever publish any articles under the name of Asian Beacon, we will clearly state our stand on our statement of beliefs.
- This competition is judged purely on the writer’s testimonies and not on the finer points of theology. While the competition is still ongoing, in all cases, and in line with our respect for each writer’s individual testimonies, we adopt a ‘spirit rather than the letter of the law’ approach to each writer’s testimony.
- The Asian Beacon team will endeavour to its utmost to be fair to all participants, without any discrimination, prejudice, or favoritism to any single participant.
- In all cases, the Asian Beacon team will hold true to the conditions we have outlined in our Terms and Conditions for the competition. You may find these terms on https://asianbeacon.org/writing-competition/
Asian Beacon would like to reiterate here that we are all members of Bible-believing churches and we hold to the evangelical creed. We thank those of you who have raised your concerns and hope this will help answer your questions.
by Kenji Loh
Growing up, I was influenced by what the gospel could mean when attending churches, observing my mom, and being involved in Boy’s Brigade. I believed that Jesus was a Savior for sinners but never accepted Him personally. Still, I presumed myself as a Christian because of how the Christian theme was so commonly associated in my life. I was also naive towards sin because I had believed that saying the words sorry to God would erase my association with it and I could continue on sinning as if nothing happened.
My first experience of life’s bitterness happened when I had to transfer schools at the age of 9. Despite begging my parents and when I got transferred, I couldn’t see them as loving figures anymore and blamed God for how things turned out. I became more self-centered and desired the world to revolve around me. I forged many masks to fit in and sought meaning through self-made purposes like having the best Pokemon cards at the cost of stealing my parents’ money and sneaky shoplifting.
I was unaware back then but later realized that I had experienced depression at 9 because it resurfaced again when I couldn’t woo a girl in high school in spite of many attempts and overly enthusiastic optimism. At this point, I only acknowledged God whenever I wanted something from Him but questioned His credibility when nothing happened.
My depression was at its worst after an incident concerning financial freedom in college. I had lost friends and myself overnight; and felt jaded to continue feeding into social identities and ambitioned for more self-made purposes like obsessing over porn or being a perfectionist in video games. Whenever I contemplated life; I contemplated my identity and purpose too. Strangely, I contemplated God as well in the midst of it all.
As days went by, I started feeling guilty towards God and deemed myself as unworthy. I went with hypocrisy as my identity considering how I had been a hypocritical Christian all this while. Ironically, my understanding of Christianity was only half right to begin with as I only held onto the idea that Jesus was a Savior.
When it came time to decide what universities to apply for since I was enrolled in an American Degree Transfer Program. I prayed to God for an acceptance letter to the University of Minnesota and in exchange for that letter, a promise to sincerely approach Him instead of hiding away and thinking I could never be a Christian someday.
But it was practically impossible because (1) it was a top ten school for Psychology. And (2), my cgpa were way below the academic requirements to enter. Even the last recorded one and only student who was below requirement; had a higher cgpa than mine and was last recorded years back. But to my utmost surprise, I actually received a late acceptance letter and that was my first “coincidence” with God.
After flying over and settling down in a temporary home; on one particular summer’s day, I strangely felt prompted to visit the campus. I had doubts if it was just me or some random thought, but eventually went wandering around anyway.
On my way back home, the second coincidence happened when I bumped into church members who were about done with their prayer walk. And the third coincidence was after a move to my permanent housing, where I found out I was living in the same street as members from the same church. Everything seemed so coincidental but I was not convinced. Eventually, I decided to stick with Gracepoint just because I couldn’t be bothered enough to go look for another church.
2014 for me really hit off when I was attending Gracepoint’s winter retreat. And it was during one of the night’s worship sessions, that I couldn’t hold back on tears and broke down in guilt before God; in hindsight, how He still pursued me despite the many times I forsake Him. I had acknowledged my convictions as a sinner more than just knowing the definition of it. However, I still held back on my decision to be a Christian because I felt I needed more time to reify my sincerity towards God as promised. I told God just that and settled on my own assumption that He’d be able to understand.
When summer break came for 2014, the church was asking who wanted to join their campus prayer walks. And out of curiosity, I asked my pastor about the time I first met them and how often they usually do their prayer walks.
At first he shared with me that they usually have it every week until summer break was over. But for some reason, for 2013’s summer break; the day that I bumped into them, was the one and only day they had decided to do a prayer walk for the entire summer. And I was speechless and kept repeatedly thinking of what if I hadn’t gone out to visit the campus that same day. Eventually, I became convinced and believed that all the coincidences that had happened, was God’s literal guiding all along.
But even after being convinced, I still lived life my own way. I only got better at giving God excuses that I wasn’t sincere yet to follow Him because I needed to get over my depression first or stop engaging in sexual acts. I was good at playing Christian while living out a totally different lifestyle depending on whom I was with at what given time.
Time flew by and it was only during September 2015, when I seriously paused for a moment to reflect upon my posture before God. Especially with the sudden hit of reality, where I was only a few months away from heading back to Malaysia; the thought of going back unchanged and not fulfilling my initial promise to God was unsettling for me.
And so I decided to have my own retreat where I began to challenge my own thoughts and emotions to see if I was true to my words and intentions that I made with God. I questioned where I stood in my relationship with Him and resurfaced countless promises I made to follow Him. I realized I’ve settled on life too comfortably because I was taking God for granted.
I thought back on how life was before God had intervened and started to contemplate my responses of indifference for what He had given me. I was as right as a fool because I was thankful for the things He had done but was still living life how I wanted it to be. It was only after the many realizations, confessions, and repentance I made over three days that I finalized my intentions to follow Christ; to personally accept, believe, and make Him as my Lord and Savior. And right then, I was healed of my depression and a different kind of peace came over me which I know only comes from Him. I had been proven wrong by God Himself that I needed to have it all together before turning towards Him; when all it took was faith as small as a mustard seed and action alongside that faith.
I’m thankful for God’s display of love and mercy on the cross through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His perfect sacrifice on the cross that my sins are justified and I am made righteous in God’s eyes. It was also through that experience that I overcame my flawed mindset of “Once a hypocrite, Always a hypocrite”.
As I reflected on my past, I am sincerely grateful to God that I was able to be broken down because it served as stepping stones for me to come to recognize, seek, and follow Him now. I finally understood that being Christian stemmed from both faith and works; from allowing the Holy Spirit to work in me to choosing to obey Him and best align myself to His will.
As James 2:14-17 says: What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead”.
I am continuing to strive to fix my eyes on God, build an intimate relationship with Him, and allow Him to chisel me into the most Christlike and truest version of myself. I hope to continue to carry on my cross daily and best mirror His love to others. To also testify that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I have found my eternal purpose and identity in Christ.
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by Kenji Loh100% 24 / 24