I was born in South Korea and grew up in a Christian family. Every Sunday my parents would take me to church; this continued when we immigrated to Vancouver in 2000. From there, I met great pastors, teachers and friends — friends that I made for the very first time in Canada. I befriended three girls that continue to be my oldest friends to this day.
In our adolescent years, each of us developed different interests and out of the four of us, one began to invest her time and energy into her relationship with God. I remember her telling us that she found a new joy in becoming a Christian, and the rest of us merely witnessed what this new joy looked like through her.
About a year after she publicly declared her love for God in front of everyone at church, she suddenly fell extremely ill. The girl, who had no track record of any serious illness in her family, now had leukemia. I had a tough time coping with my closest friend’s life suddenly changing. I prayed earnestly and out of desperation that God would heal our friend who was so near and dear to our hearts. I prayed without believing and trusting in Him; it just felt like the right thing to do.
After a year of chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, and successful recovery from surgery, we all enthusiastically believed God had answered our prayers. With relief and joy, the three of us went to visit her and it felt just like old times. However, what we did not know then was that it would be the final time the four of us would laugh and smile together. Due to developing complications during her recovery she passed away shortly after at the age of 17. I did not know how to handle the loss of one of my closest friends. I felt betrayed by God. I was angry and disappointed in Him.
However, the problem was that I was naïve in my belief in God and quite simply believed He existed in the stories I had learned from Sunday school. I had no real relationship with Him and I was not a Christian. For this reason, it was easy to close my heart and turn my back to Him, eventually keeping a distance from church and fellowship.
Years of life without God on my mind and heart turned me into a self-centered person. More and more I emphasized my focus on personal accomplishments in career, money and materialistic things. Eventually these things would become the center of my being, neglecting things that mattered most — relationships, family, and most importantly God. My selfish attitude began to negatively impact all my relationships and I now began to close my heart to people just as I did to God. Even through achieving personal accomplishments, I couldn’t help but feel like a solitude prisoner confined to a concrete cell that I had ironically created for myself.
I started searching for meaning and purpose in life. I felt like a substantial piece of a puzzle was missing in my life — a piece that I realized could not be replaced by a new job, new friendship or boyfriend. What was left? The more I tried to answer that question, the more my heart was telling me to go back to church, where I could be in God’s presence. In hopes for an answer, I had the urge to get to know Him better; I believe that God was opening doors for me to come back and rediscover who He is. Around the same time, new friends came into my life and I was encouraged and brought along to church. This time around, my heart was willing to learn and my ears, open to listen.
Every Sunday, God was speaking to my heart through Pastor Chang. God’s Word slowly pushed me to make differences in my daily life as I began to see the importance and sense in what was being said. I started seeing relationships and friendships differently; I saw both the importance and intentions in why He made relationships. I wanted to be a better person according to God’s standard rather than the world’s, and I wanted a real relationship with God as my Father.
While in that transition of my life, God showed His love by continually connecting me with His children — one of them being my partner, who has shown me how happy and contented one could be living a life with God. With God’s Word, along with the new relationships I was building with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, things started clicking. The things I had been determined to accomplish were not as important for the same reasons anymore and when I accepted Christ into my heart, I shifted my priorities to what matters to God: to be more loving, forgiving and happy regardless of where I am in life. His love has given me the courage not to fear the things I experience in life; His grace has saved me from my sins and I am loved no matter what.
I am now able to understand why my friend did not fear, have hatred, disappointment or anger towards God throughout her stay in the hospital. It took many years to realize, but now I see that she too knew that, through God sending His one and only Son to save us from our sins, we are loved by a perfect Being and have nothing to fear in His embrace.
I learned to trust in Jesus and His unconditional love. Even when my life is littered with obstacles and challenges, I will hold onto God’s Word as my anchor, Jesus’ loving sacrifice as an example, and the Holy Spirit’s encouragement to do my utmost to live out my life as a child of God with Him as my Father.