Author: Esther Dong
A Christian for many years, she studied and worked in the United Kingdom, China, and the United States, and currently resides in Southern California.
My journey of faith began in the seventh grade. On my way to school in the spring, I saw the blue sky adorned with white clouds and the poplar trees sprouting new leaves. The sunlight cast a shimmering, translucent glow on the tender leaves, sparkling like water droplets about to fall. Swaying gently with the breeze, it was lovely, lively, yet gentle. If one's writing reflects their character, who created this masterpiece? The author of the radiant sun and azure sky must be a loving and wonderful being. This feeling planted a tiny seed in my heart.
Gradually, I started contemplating – why the world is the way it is, how it came into existence, the meaning of life, and my life's purpose. Although I didn't have answers then, these questions lingered in my mind.
Later, I came across Cai Zhi-zhong's comics on Buddhism and Taoism, touching on faith and philosophy, but my questions about the Creator persisted. After I watched the movie "Jane Eyre," the cruelty in the Christian orphanage left me with doubts about Christianity.
In eighth grade, my best friend and I were curious and wanted to visit a church. She knew about Gang-Wa-Shi Church in Beijing. On a Saturday, we went together.
The sanctuary door was slightly ajar, and we slipped in, finding a large room with empty seats, a cross in the center, and no statues or idols. We stayed for a few minutes, then left. However, a couple of feelings lingered – first, shouldn't churches be ornate? Why was this one so simple? Second, the church felt old, with dark brown seats. It was a cloudy day, so the lighting was dim. But when we were there, we didn't find the environment oppressive; instead, it was serene, and we felt a sense of peace and indescribable joy.
We met an elderly gatekeeper at the door. He didn't scold us for sneaking in. Instead, he welcomed and informed us about the Sunday services and Christmas programs. He was kind and didn’t pressure us in any way, leaving us a good impression of Christians.
We attended the Christmas worship service, where some people were baptized. During the ceremony, a choir sang beautifully. We envied these young people that they had the privilege to sing there. Later, some of them came forward to get baptized, shedding tears during the ceremony. Afterward, they looked joyful, as if celebrating something. They seemed to be doing something we couldn’t understand, which fueled our curiosity about Christianity. This experience led me further into the discovery of Jesus.
During my high school years, my cousin came to Beijing to apply for an art school and stayed with us. My uncle also came to help with logistics. They are devout Christians. They shared their faith and introduced us to the Bible. My uncle led us in Bible study, and our family came together to study the Bible twice a week. The seeds of faith planted long ago in my heart started to take root and sprout.
When my uncle led us to study the Gospel, each person took turns reading a few passages. When we reached a specific passage, we would ask questions and discuss the answers. One passage that left a deep impression on me was Luke 22:44: before Jesus was crucified, he was in excruciating pain, sweating drops of blood, yet he said, "(Father,) if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." I thought -- how immense his love and obedience must be to set aside his own feelings and fulfill God's will! It was an extraordinary act, not something an ordinary person would do. Such love is difficult to describe.
The study group also assigned homework, asking us to read the Bible passages to be discussed. When I repeatedly read the words of Jesus, asking, "What do you want me to do for you?" I was deeply moved. Jesus, who could turn water into wine, make the lame walk, and restore sight to the blind, must be a great man. However, he was so humble, asking the less fortunate, "What do you want me to do for you?" This love astonished me, making me feel that the Jesus who asked this question and the Creator of the beautiful spring could be the same. Of course, there are aspects of the Bible that I do not understand. My uncle said it's normal to have areas of confusion, and we could reflect on them in the future. The important thing is to know that the Bible is an expression of God's love.
This "family Bible study" continued for about a year, laying a solid foundation for my understanding of the Bible.
Besides leading the Bible study, my uncle also preached at home. He preached passionately one summer evening, and I listened, falling asleep. Suddenly, he asked, "Do you want to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life?" He repeated the question.
I opened my eyes and saw no one was around. I was surprised and asked, “Are you asking me?” He confirmed, "Yes, I'm asking you. Though you're young, you still need to face this question."
After some thought, I said, "Though I’m only seventy percent certain, I'm willing to give it a try and accept Jesus as my personal Savior."
That's how my uncle led me in a prayer of commitment. He joyfully said that though it might not seem like much was happening on Earth, angels were celebrating in heaven for my new spiritual life. Two days later, as my uncle's family prepared to leave Beijing, I couldn't stop crying. Yet I felt a profound love and peace – something I had never experienced before. Later, I realized it was the moving of the Holy Spirit.
Over the next two years, my family members also came to faith. I'm grateful for my uncle bringing us the Gospel and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
This loving Lord has been with me throughout my journey. After graduating from college, I landed a great job in Beijing. Later, I pursued a master's degree in the UK and settled in the US afterward. Amid these changes, I have always felt the love of the Lord, transforming me from an anxious introvert to someone optimistic and cheerful. I believe that as long as God is in my heart, He will have beautiful plans for me wherever I go.
I’m grateful that though I was only seventy percent certain when asked to accept Jesus, I said a prayer of commitment and haven't regretted it ever since.