From a Small church: How I Came to Know Christ

I was around five or six when I first entered a Christian church—too young to even care about the service or the kind faces of the people inside. I don’t remember the Church’s name anymore, but I can still picture how it looks like. The small church faced the vast South China Sea with wide windows welcoming strong westerly winds. The walls were bare, the floor rough and the roof exposed—evidences of an unfinished structure.

Long wooden benches lined the church’s sides, and white monoblocks filled the middle of the room. There was a drum set infront beside a karaoke machine. Embedded on the front wall, facing the people, was a cross made up of several translucent glass cubes. I remember that cross as clearly as the day I first saw it. It glows everytime sunlight passes through it.

It will take more than 13 years before I enter another Christian church. Those silent years in between are years of searching, failing and learning.

My Catholic background taught me that the road to salvation is faith plus good works. “Good works” was easy enough to understand. I just needed to obey my parents, donate to the poor, help the needy and do all the good stuff I read in religion textbooks. “Faith”, on the other hand, was something I didn’t really grasp. How could I, when I was taught that “faith is believing something you can’t explain?”

I used to say that I have faith because I believe in God. I can enter heaven easily because I am an obedient boy, always top of my class, never smoked or drank, and joined outreach programs for the poor. I never really regarded myself a lost sheep because I went to mass every Sunday, I know my prayers, I pray the rosary, and celebrate feast days of saints.

Deep down, however, in the darkest labyrinths of my soul, lay my real view of faith and God. I was consumed by worldly success, lust and pride. I trusted myself so much that I placed God second only to my school requirements, achievements, contests and daily chores. My prayers were empty, memorized essays I uttered only to impress my teachers. I virtually lived a life apart from my Creator, but what was startling was I didn’t seem to care.

I brushed through elementary and high school occupied by my ambitions. I never paused to think about God or my relationship with Him. I thought that as long as everything was okay, God was with me, so there was nothing to worry. Little did I know that my entry to the University of the Philippines would be my passport to finally meeting the God who has always known me but whom I never knew.

My sister invited me to join Kalayaan Christian Fellowship or KalCF the moment I entered UP. I was reluctant at first because her initial invitation made me think of propaganda. “She just wanted to convert me to her religion,” I thought. But my sister was persistent and patient. She asked me to try even just the first fellowship. If I didn’t like it, I could leave anytime I wanted, she said.

I tried the first fellowship. I was there before it started and stayed on until it was over. I liked it. I went back for the next fellowships after that and learned a lot about God and the Bible. It even came to a point when I was attending three Bible studies a week!

These outward activities, however, did not make me a Christian. I was attending fellowships, BS and church, yes, but I knew deep in me that I was still reluctant to submit to God. My self was still my God. I even prayed the sinner's prayer written on a booklet entitled, "Four Spiritual Laws," but I knew that that was a hollow prayer.

But God was faithful. Almost a year after that, I joined a camp at the Dormitories Christian Fellowship. The camp had nothing to do with salvation or anything, but God was truly moving. The most powerful message He impressed on my heart was on hypocrisy. On the first evening, I was lying on my bed, just thinking about many things. I asked myself, "Why are you even here in this camp? Why do you even join these people when you know that you are not God's son?"

I tried to sleep to drown the emotion. But everytime I awoke, it was still there, more intense than before. Finally, I could no longer contain what I was feeling. I went out of the room, sat on one of the tables and talked to God. I listened to the song, "Lead me to the cross," while I committed my life to Jesus as my Lord and Savior by His grace and through faith alone.

That was how I came to know Jesus. A lot of things changed from that day on. It wasn’t easy to totally turn from the world and embrace a life of perfect obedience to God. Until now, I’m struggling, but He gives me endurance and molds me better everyday.
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