A few days ago, I went for a walk around my complex and spotted the Frangipani tree had flowers in bloom again! I was so excited and walked over to see if any flowers had fallen on the ground. I picked up a few flowers, just like I had done the first time I saw these beautiful flowers two years ago. Back then, I had no idea what this flower was even called. Now, whenever I see it, I am reminded of God's love, grace, and ever-presence in my life. So how is this flower related to my journey back to God? Keep reading to find out!
Below is my testimony about my faith journey. I must start from the beginning, though. There are many events and experiences in-between which have impacted my faith, and if I were to write a full version of my testimony, it might become another book! Here are the main highlights.
My journey to finding faith in God has been a rather long roller-coaster ride, even though I was born and raised in a Christian family. I used to think so many Christians were hypocrites and I would judge them and think, ‘I can’t believe someone like that would call themselves a Christian…’ It took me many years to admit I am also a hypocrite. It wasn’t until someone said to me, ‘Church is a place with the most sinners,’ that I realised Christians are not perfect. Being a Christian is simply about having our own relationship with God and accepting Jesus as the saviour for our sins. It has nothing to do with how other Christians behave. What matters most is our own personal relationship with Him.
Before I realised all this, I struggled to have faith in this mysterious God who works in mysterious ways. I had strayed far away from Him when I started working. I made up excuses to my myself why I didn't want to go to church anymore. I thought I didn't need God in my life. And I even felt angry with Him, especially when my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer within four years. I felt extremely confused and frustrated. He was a devout Christian. He did everything for God, serving those in need, remained humble, and that was how God repaid him? I asked all the typical questions: Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is God punishing us? What kind of God would let these things happen? But my dad never once asked those questions. His faith never wavered; and it was through those difficult and trying times that I realised God continually gave us countless blessings and miracles – ones we didn’t know we needed.
As our last hope for a cure, our family decided to try an alternative stem cell treatment in Mexico. It was there that we grew closer together as a family as we each went through a process of spiritual healing. After seeing some initial success from the treatment and seeing him regain his strength again, we all returned to Hong Kong, hopeful that the treatment had worked. But after a few weeks, Dad just grew weaker and we realised we were fighting a losing battle. We felt helpless, hopeless and incredibly sad, but surprisingly, Dad actually began to smile! He felt peaceful and calm because he knew everything was in God’s hands and decided to just leave everything to Him. All the stress and worries left him when he decided to stop all the treatments. What he wanted most was to see God in heaven, and he was ready. He had no regrets and continually thanked God for his abundant and meaningful life. He was so peaceful and full of joy in his final days; even the hospice staff said they had never seen someone with a terminal prognosis smile so much! Everyone who came to visit him was touched by his joyfulness, hope, and complete faith in God. I couldn't fathom how he could be so full of joy when he knew he was dying.
Watching my dad pass away in front of me was just like watching him fall into a deep sleep because I could still see his peacefulness until his last breath. Seeing those final moments made me realise that death may be the end of our lives on Earth, but it’s the beginning of an eternal life with God in Heaven! He was smiling because he had gone to Heaven – where he wanted to be, and definitely where he deserves to be! From that day on, I opened my heart to God. I wanted to find that same hope and peace that I saw in my dad.
It wasn't easy though. I had struggled a lot in the first six months. I didn't understand why God could let this happen. I still didn't understand why He didn't answer any of our prayers. I wondered if it was my fault that he died - maybe I didn't pray hard enough. I was so sad, confused and angry. Yet, I wanted to know more and try to understand and know God the way my dad did. I wanted to reconnect with Him and feel His love again.
As I began to dig deeper into my faith through the Alpha course, I experienced more of God’s love, and even felt His presence through the kindness and compassion of the leaders and helpers. The most remarkable experience happened at the retreat where I believe God had spoken to me through one of the helpers. She prayed for me and said three very specific things that she could not have known about me. First, that she could sense I was filled with sorrow; second, that my father was a well-respected healer; and finally, a vision of a girl picking up '雞蛋花' (Frangipani) from the ground.
Everything she had said was true! Losing my dad made me sorrowful with grief, and he was indeed a well-respected healer – a clinical psychologist and a professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Even her vision was true, because the day before the retreat, my mum and I had picked up 雞蛋花 from the ground during our walk, and placed them in front of my dad’s photo. I actually didn't recognise the name of the flower when she said it to me. When I got home, I tried to tell my mum what she had said and I only got half the name of the flower right. My mum then pointed behind me to the flowers and asked, 'Do you mean 雞蛋花?'. It was then that I realised she was right about the flowers, too! I was certain that God had spoken to me through her! He told me that He knows about my grief and sorrow; He knows about all the good things my dad had done; and that He is always watching over me. He can see everything that I have done, too – even something as insignificant as picking up some flowers from the ground! It was in that moment that I felt His presence in my heart. He had always been there, I just didn't pay attention to Him. I know now, without a doubt, that God is real, ever-present, and full of love and grace!
We may have suffered a lot of pain and sorrow, but God blessed us with so much more and He gave us things we didn't know we needed. He surprises me every day with His abundant blessings. I made so many new friends at church who became my brothers and sisters in Christ. I learned to love and be grateful for what I have, to see the good in the midst of the bad. I never would have known God if I hadn't lost my father. But I didn't really lose my father, I just gained another one! His body may have left this earth, but his spirit lives on in all our hearts and he is spending eternity with Jesus in Heaven! There is no fear in death if we believe in God. Jesus died on the cross so that we may live! Our time on this earth is only temporary. Our separation from our loved ones on earth is only temporary. Even our pain and suffering - they are all temporary. We have an eternity when we all reunite together in His kingdom! And "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
Do you believe that God is real? What was your faith journey like? Have you always believed in God or were there moments in your life where you thought God was very far away? What experiences brought you closer to Him?