Most of you know of my testimony of how I became a Christian. But P. Ray asked me to add a summary of my conversion testimony and the years leading up to Philly.
Here’s a quick summary. I grew up a very troubled child. I was angry with my parents, with my life, with the world. My parents used to take me to see psychologists, pastors, counselors. At one point, my mom was about to take me to the mental hospital.
Kierkegaard wrote a series of questions which encapsulate the thoughts I had growing up:
“Where am I? Who am I?
How did I come to be here?
What is this thing called the world?
How did I come into the world?
Why was I not consulted?
And If I am compelled to take part in it, where is the director?
I want to see him.”
I was on my way to commit suicide back in 2011, and then during Good Friday service, I heard a voice asking me, “Do you know why you wanted to kill yourself this whole time? It’s because you’ve made yourself to be your own god. I AM your Savior.”
And I knew it was Jesus. And I said, Yes Lord, I believe that You are my Savior.
So to cut the story short: I went to England, for a honeymoon with the Lord. I felt called by the Lord to go back to So-Cal for grad school. I believe His words for me back then was, “This church is going to be your family for the next 4 – 6 years.” I did that, and it was my years in the desert. Just like the Israelites where going through the desert after God called them out of Egypt, grad school was like living in the desert.
After grad school, I felt that the Lord Jesus was inviting me to go to Philly. I went there, and I went back to So-Cal after 13 months. I was being honest with the Lord back then when I realized that living in academia for so long was very toxic for my health — physically, mentally, and spiritually — and I needed to stable job just to get the simple things in life.
From August 2018 – now
So I’ll share with you two things that I’ve been learning this past year ever since I got back from Philly. I’ll use two sports anecdotes as entry points to the things I want to talk about.
People like to debate on who is the GoAT: Is it Jordan? Kobe? LeBron? Maybe Curry? All of these are really impressive players. They’re quite flashy I would say. But Peter Ngo and I know that before we talk about Kobe and LeBron in that bracket, we probably should mention Tim Duncan. He’s not as flashy as all the other players that I mentioned, but you can’t argue with the fact that he has 5 NBA Championships. And he’s the master of the fundamentals.
When I got back to California from Philly, I was really shocked to discover that I don’t know how to do the fundamental things in life (after being in academia for so long). In my faith walk, I was also really convicted of not doing the fundamentals.
I needed to go back again and to ask myself: what’s really the fundamental thing when I say that I’m a Christian. I picked up the book Mere Christianity again to remind myself of the good old days when I read it the first time when I first became a Christian. I went back to the gospel of Matthew again. I discovered that at the core of it all: it’s simply following Jesus.
But as Stephen Margheim would say, “Let’s not be lazy.” Let’s actually peel what following Jesus really means, right?
When I read Matthew 5 – 7: the sermon on the mount, to be honest I was really convicted: – I forgot that Jesus said that – And that – And that – I forgot that He taught that, etc. And I got to be really convicted: I told the Lord Jesus (in my prayer), Lord I can’t with all honesty say that I’m a Christian. I don’t remember all these things You taught me, let alone to obey them in my daily life.
So that’s where I’ve been and where I currently am. Re-learning to do the fundamentals: following Jesus by taking Him at His words and to try to obey them.
I support Man Utd. Dong Yoon and Jooeun know. We haven’t been doing so well lately, and we just got a new manager: the legendary Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Two weeks ago, we got thrashed by Everton 4 – 0. After the game, during the press conference, Ole said that some players need to do a reality check.
Reality check. This thing hits me so hard once I got out of academia. There’s this quote by C.S. Lewis: Reality is iconoclastic. And You’re the great Iconoclast.
As I re-read the gospel according to Matthew again: I often find myself to be confounded by Jesus. The picture I have of Jesus in my mind can often be different from what’s presented by the gospel. For example: I say that Jesus is meek and humble. But He’s not at all timid. He’s actually really tough. He’s a man of His words — something that we rarely mention. He’s complex and simple. He claimed to be the Son of God, and yet He called Himself The Son of Man. He’s powerful – demons called Him The Holy One of Israel. And yet, He let Himself to be judged in front of Chiapas and Pilate without opening His mouth, so to speak. He’s an anomaly, He is …. the great Iconoclast.
And that’s where I am. Doing reality check. And re-learning of what reality is.
I’d like to be a member of this church because I see that the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached every week in this church. I also see that the leadership and the members of this church try their best to follow Jesus whole-heartedly no matter where they are in life. So I’d like to be a member of this community.