I’m getting baptized today!

Good Morning Church!

I grew up wanting people to like me – wanting their attention and affirmation. When I first started high school, I was determined to make as many friends as possible because in middle school, I was a victim of bullying, and I never wanted to relive that. In 9th grade, I befriended several Christians. They embraced me almost immediately; I felt so loved around them. There was something in their lives that made them unique, but it wasn’t something that popularity could ever give me.

Eventually, they invited me Impact, a Christian summer camp organized by Houston-area Chinese churches. There, I heard the Gospel for the first time in my life, and I learned that God loves me more than any person ever could. While I chased after the attention of the people around me, God wanted an absolute intimate loving relationship with me. My sin, or shortcomings as a human, was not that I sought bad relationships (honestly, relationships are good things that God had designed for us to have). My sin was choosing to pursue worldly relationships that fell severely short of God’s desire for us to be spiritually connected with Him. If I am a man created by God intended to be spiritually connected with Him, why would I try and replace Him with other people? In God’s kingdom, the penalty for sin is death, and sin separates us from God. I also learned that God sent His son, Jesus to die in place of my sin. Jesus was the only suitable man to take away the penalty of sin, and Jesus took MY PLACE on the cross 2000 years ago. God loved me so much that He sacrificed His own son so that I could know Him again. On August 6, 2005, I accepted Jesus Christ as my sacrificial savior.

Eight years and two months have passed since that fateful night where God extended and His invitation to me. Not a day goes by where I don’t still desire the attention and affirmation of the people around me. However, what I do know is God loves me more intimately than anybody could ever could. As long as I live, I know God of the heavens and the earth loves me, and that I love Him.

Finding a Home Church

I could have said, “another church” in the title instead of a “home church”, but that simply is not the case. To be completely honest, I’ve never truly had a home church. At Second Baptist Church, the place I’ve called home for the past five years, I was never involved in youth group, and I never attended sunday school. Normally, I would just attend church service and head on home.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what church I want to commit myself to in the future. There’s the obvious choice in Houston Chinese Church (HCC). I’ve been a part of their summer fellowship the past two years, and I’ve been going to camp as a camper or counselor for the past seven years. God used the people from this church to reach me when I was unbelieving and still, to this day, uses those same people to grow my faith and my relationship with Him. I know I could find a nice niche and comfortable growing environment at HCC, probably through Basic, their young adult ministry.

The second choice, although one that I’ve always immediately shot down, is Chinese Baptist Church (CBC). This semester, I felt that God was calling me to be a counselor for their winter retreat, and I’m so glad I followed Him there. Some of the most influential people in my life had come from CBC, so many that I could hardly take it as coincidence; Michael, Michelle, Mary, Justin, and Gregory. Ever since high school, I had always wanted to meet the CBCers, and I finally had a chance to interact with the youth and college kids. Michael and I had a chat on the last night of the retreat, and he shared about the community of the church. CBC is just one big family, and trying to process and keep track of all the family relations gave me a huge headache. Coming back Saturday, I felt refreshed and wanting to experience more of CBC’s church environment. And I did just that; I attended my first Sunday chinese church service, ever. There are two sides of community. On one hand, you can feel completely loved and integrated. On the other, you can feel excluded because the community is so united, and you feel like you’re fighting to become a part of it, to be accepted. I felt both feelings at the retreat, and the latter magnified on Sunday.

So, here’s the deal. Community is really important to me for two reasons:

  1. The reason I’ve never been baptized is I want to be committed to a church community that I will love and serve. I want to  be a part of a community and stand proud as I declare my faith to the church. Albeit, it feels intimidating potentially getting baptized in front of a congregation that generally baptizes kids between second and fourth grade.
  2. I also want to choose a church that will be able to help me minister to my parents. The purpose of the retreat was to set our hearts on missions, and right now, my mission field is my family. Paul reminded me of that. The church I choose needs to be a place where I can invite my family into and feel loved and accepted. It needs to have a solid cantonese speaking community. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a factor for me in choosing a church, but it’s still really important to me.

I’ve always disliked when people who choose not to attend an event because a lack of other people attending, but I might have to make an exception in this case because choosing a church is wholly dependent on the community. I’m beginning to love this community, and I love challenges.

God, please give me grace and wisdom in choosing where to be.