My wife (May) and I (Kevin Lo) have been disciples of Jesus Christ living in Hong Kong for over 28 years. As parents, we had been dreaming of our son, Teddy’s baptism day since he was born. We prepared a bottle of red wine with a private label in the year 1999 so we could open it on his big day…and with God’s grace that day came after almost 20 years. Below is Teddy’s testimony of how he built his personal relationship with God.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
I first asked the youth workers to study the Bible with me when I was 16, but after a few months, I found out that my heart was not ready at all and so I stopped. Time flew and when I promoted to the campus ministry at 18, I asked the campus workers to study the Bible with me again, thinking that I should be ready this time. But just a couple of months later, I found out that I was not ready again. In the meantime, one of my best teenage friends in the church got baptized and he tried so much to walk with me and encouraged me to be eager to seek God. So, that started my third time to ask the disciples to study the Bible with me again.
This time, I made a decision to confess my deepest sins and prayed that God would forgive me. Confessing sins has never been easy for me, as it meant facing the full emotional burden of my sin. However, with the gift from Jesus on the cross, I knew could overcome my sin with hope. When I confessed my biggest sin this time while studying the Bible, I couldn’t see the whole picture. I shed tears and I prayed, but one question remained unanswered: Why confess? The result was a few weeks of self-directed anger and self-pity. Emotional burden transformed into fear, fear of facing my sins again and the disciples whom I confessed my sins to. I ran away by not answering phone calls or replying texts, but I still showed up at church. I am very thankful that the disciples did not abandon me. Realizing that I was avoiding them, they still accompanied me to help me understand the cross. They had prayer walks with me, about five miles each day for an entire week, to help me pray with emotions to God. However, I still did not get it.
A few months later, I was challenged by the disciples who studied the Bible with me to try living a Christian life by loving one another and the lost in this world. Surprisingly, my love and faith grew rapidly when I took up that challenge. After a month of living like a disciple, my faith increased and I thought I was finally ready to count the cost. In the past, the thought of me becoming a disciple had always been distant. Then, when I was just a step away from baptism, the reason for confession became much clear: I knew I must have a clear conscience in the face of God. I had intense struggles between my old cowardly self and the hopeful self. After a few months, I still had some secret sins within me with countless opportunities to open up but I chose not to. I finally got the courage up to call the brothers who had been studying the Bible with me and confess everything still left in my heart to them. I could feel their sadness and disappointment by seconds of silence on the phone. Once again it broke my heart, but this time, I was hopeful.
When I came to count the cost, one of my first mentors in the church did not feel good about the study because of my procrastination in confessing my sin. He proposed to defer counting the cost with me. My heart sank when I heard this. I told them that I totally agreed that I did not deserve them to trust me. To my great surprise, they reconsidered and agreed to move on. I broke into tears and could feel God’s grace with deep gratitude. As I had been forgiven once again, I could see and feel God’s unconditional grace through them. While I was crying, I saw the brothers weep, too. Then they helped me to successfully count the cost. I could be baptized shortly!
We are all sinners. Only when we confess can we see the damage we are causing. Only when we see the damage we are causing can we understand the purpose of the cross. Only when we see the purpose of the cross can we be forgiven through the best gift which God gave us. Only when we receive God’s gift everyday can we become a true Christian and take up his cross daily. Amen! Here is one of my favorite Scriptures: “ Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me…’” (Luke 9:23).
To God be the glory!