Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My Conversion in the Restored Gospel

I have thought of writing and sharing my testimony ever since I started blogging but never got to do it. So today, I decided I do it! Here goes...............

What attracted me to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Hymns! Singing!

I was in the primary school and enjoyed singing so when a friend asked me whether I would like to join a Sunday afternoon school, a walking distance from where I stayed in Lutong. She told me there would be singing and story-telling so I accepted.

I liked Mr. King. He was "white-coloured, tall, good-looking, well-built", a very nice man and I enjoyed the lessons that he taught us. Yes, I could still remember his name and I wonder where he is now.

We were asked to memorize and recite the following verse and I could still recite it without looking at the scripture:
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life"

I also remember the song that we were taught. This is the first song that I learnt about Jesus Christ:
Jesus loves me this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong.
They are weak but he is strong.
Yes Jesus loves me. Yes Jesus loves me.
Yes Jesus loves me the Bible tells me so.

Both the verse and the song touched my heart and soul. Isn't it wonderful to know that there is a wonderful, perfect friend, in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is alive and although you cannot see him, he can see you and understand you, watch over you and most of all, love you for what you are.

You know when you are at that tender transition age, of growing out of your puberty stage to a teenager, when you believe something you just believe and you want to follow. Well, this may not applied to everyone, but at least for me.

Mum went to the Chinese temple and prayed often. I followed her, did what she did. I knelt down holding the joss sticks in my hands and bowed my head in front of the 'dieties'. Deep inside me I didn't feel anything and I did not have the desire to commit to this religion. Thanks to Mum, she did not force me or any of her children to follow her steps. I am grateful that she had given me the freedom of choice.

My eldest sister went to to church every Sunday morning and I also followed her. I went because I wanted to sing. It wasn't the people and it was definitely not the sermons because they were not inspiring to me.

I had friends in two different churches in Lutong. There were the only 2 churches in this oil town then. They asked me whether I would like to be baptised in their respective church and I asked them who they worship. One of them said they worship Jesus's Mother, Virgin Mary, while the other said they worship the Son, Jesus. I chose the church that worship Jesus because I have learnt about him at the Sunday afternoon school. I want to be a follower of the man who died for my sins. Other aspects that kept me going to the church was being a member of the choir and the Christmas carolling..

6 years later, another missionary came to Miri and again he was holding his sessions in Lutong and this time it was even nearer to where I stayed. They were holding their weekly evening sessions at a house which was claimed haunted. I could hear the singing and so I just walked over one evening. I would not have even if someone offered me money just to get near a haunted house during broadlight what more to say at night!

I loved the singing as usual. Some of my favourite songs were:

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Stand Up! Stand Up for Jesus!
Ye soldiers of the cross
Lift high his royal banner
it must not suffer loss
From victory unto victory
His army shall He lead
Till every foe is vanquished
And Christ is Lord indeed

Trust and Obey
For there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

The people were nice and since I was older I started to understand and absorb the teachings and the gospel. I was feeling better than what I was feeling in the first church I knew. I attended their meetings regularly and when they asked me whether I would like to be baptised - I told them I have been baptised. They indicated to me from the Bible - Mark 1:9-10 "And i came to pass in those days, that Jesus came to Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptised of John in Jordan. And straigthway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:"

Jesus Christ has shown us that the proper way to be baptised is to be immersed into the water. So I agreed realising that my first baptism was improper.

I think I stop going to the first church after a year. It was not because I did not love Jesus or the people. It was because I felt that the gospel was somewhat incomplete. There were questions that I could not find answers to.

For the next 23 years I was busy with my job as a wife, mother, career woman that I did not attempt to go to any churches at all. I thought about God, about Jesus Christ, what I have learnt. Friends invited me to their churches but somehow I do not have the desire to join them. I prayed only occasionally. I didn't fall away. Spiritually, I was sleeping.

The desire of wanting to belong to a religious group was awakened when I stayed home full time. I have more time on my hands now and I started to feel empty inside. I wanted very much to go to church again to sing hymns. By then there were many churches in town. I did not have the desire to go back to the first church nor to the second church that I was baptised. During the 'sleeping period' I was exposed to other denominations, attended some of the functions there. There are friends in this denomination and that denomination. I like them. Which one should I go?

I did what 15 yr old Joseph Smith did in Spring 1820. I didn't know about Prophet Joseph Smith yet. In the privacy of my bedroom, I prayed to Heavenly Father. That was the first earnest prayer I had offered to Heavenly Father for a long long time. I told him my feelings leading to my desire to belong to His church and I asked Him to show me.

I never know that there was a Church in Miri called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had seen one 'White' couple but I had never seen any missionaries until one evening. They were walking pass the house. Me and my 2 children were playing with our dogs. They didn't stop at the gate. They were nice looking young men and you cannot help liking them so I greeted them. I invited them into the house.

Elder Redd and Elder Whitcomb introduced themselves as missionaries and asked me whether I have read the Book of Mormon. That was the first time I have seen the book. They left the book and assigned me to read some scriptures and we fixed another time for them to visit.

I accepted the book but I did not read it at all. They came to visit alright. The children and me enjoyed their company. They are so nice, you just cannot help liking them and wanting to serve them with food and transport.

It was the songs that attracted me again. I was touched by the lyrics. It felt so good to be back in the church singing again, even though the lyrics pricked my heart and made me shed tears. I enjoyed singing the hymns because this is one way I could express my love and appreciation to Heavenly Father.

Elder Redd was transferred and replaced by Elder Quinn. I was annoyed when Elder Quinn and Elder Whitcomb asked me whether I would like to be baptised, only after 3 lessons. There were 6 lessons. I cannot helped feeling irritated for being asked to be baptised when I do not know very much about the doctrine. I told the Elders not to push me and that I would tell them if I am ready. I also told them that it might take a long time (I had one year in mind).

Meanwhile the children and me were enjoying the company of the young missionaries and the couple missionaries.

It didn't take me a year to be converted. Less than a month, I decided I wanted to be a member of the church. The Holy Spirit witnessed to me the truthfulness of the gospel while I was watching a video at the chapel one evening. My heart was beating faster than normal as I watched the video. After the show, I blurted to the Elders that I would like to be baptised.

We planned tentatively for the baptism date. From that night onward, I started reading the Book Mormon. Regardless of whether I understood the verses or not, I read during the day and the night and whatever free time I had. This is another Testament of Jesus Christ and it jived with the Bible. I also got to read the Gospel Principles Book, and it reinforced my testimony of the truthfulness of the church.

I am thankful for the Prophet Joseph Smith, who courageously and obediently did accordingly to God's will in restoring God's church more than 176 years ago.

I am thankful to Heavenly Father for leading me to His church to learn about the Book of Mormon. It is here that I learnt that baptism is only recognised in heaven if it is done by an authorised priesthood because without this revelation I would not have consented to be baptised for the 3rd time. I am finally home because I feel at peace with everything you need to know about God, His Plan and What you must do to return to Him. This is where the crossword puzzle is complete - nothing is missing and all you need to do is to read the instructions and play. This the brightest bulb!

I say all this humbly in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Singapore Girl said...

Thank you Irene for sharing!

Milky Bar Kid said...

Thank you for leting us share your testinomy. I find it amazing that even though you are on the other side of the World we had very similar upbringings. I enjoyed the very same gospils and songs when I was a small boy that you enjoy so much.

LDS Patriot said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony! I'm glad you posted it.

LDS Patriot said...

Thank you for posting your testimony. Glad you did it!

Susan said...

Hi Irene, I read your conversion story and it was uplifting and funny at the same time, especially about you being baptized 3 times. I didn't know you love to sing so much. The Lord must be so pleased. Thank you for sharing.