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Zakary Herbert (Confirmation)

Before coming to Christ I was lost. I was living in the world depressed, unsure, searching, sad, lonely, fearing all the time, timid and closed off. I felt insufficient, not enough and I couldn’t escape it.

Relationally, I could never really make friends in primary and middle school because I was heavily bullied, even though I didn’t do anything wrong. People just thought I was an easy target and to add to that, my parents separated at that time so this feeling of being alone and depressed really hit me hard. I had nowhere to go. I felt as if I was always lost, searching, with no real purpose in life even though I believed in God.

My view of God was very twisted.  I saw him as a tough-love kind of father who would only love me if I was a good person. I realized at a young age that no matter what I did, I could never be perfect and good, and that meant I could never really receive God’s love for myself. Regardless, I still wanted to gain God’s love because I believed that He was the one who gave me life and that I owed everything to Him.  So, I felt that the only way to express my love and receive it back, was to be a good person.

The way I felt I could be a good person was to follow the moral principles my mom taught me from birth — always being thankful, humble, kind, forgiving, loving, polite and self-sacrificing. No matter how much I knew these things, it was impossible for me to constantly follow these points to a T every time.  I felt as if I always was always sinning.

For 18 years I lived this way, but in early November, 2016, after joining Agape Impact, I learned more about who Jesus is and what He did by sacrificing Himself on the cross to forgive my sins.   He, literally, is the Son of God and our Lord and Saviour.

In addition, I found out that the church wasn’t as bad as I originally thought. I had thought that the church was full of people who were totally corrupt and didn’t really love God.  I realized that there are people in the church who really do have a passion and fire for God and discovering that totally erased the negative perception I had about the church.

After seeing all these new things, I was finally able to accept the cross and Jesus’s love for me which helped me really find myself in Him and feel like I wasn’t alone in the world anymore. I realized that God had loved me all along and that all I really needed to do was to accept Him. I put my trust and faith in Him who has called me and from then, I have been constantly growing in Christ and realizing how sinful I truly am.

After being born again, I was finally able to find my purpose—to glorify God and enjoy Him.  I could never do that before because I felt as if God could never accept me because of my sin. I learned about the grace and mercy that God has given me throughout my life.  Looking back on all the blessings and hardships that I’ve been through such as having a healthy body, a caring family around me and on the negative side, going through depression, OCD and ostracism, I realized that God wanted me to go through all that so that I could grow from it and become the person I am today.  This realization was one of the greatest gifts of mercy and grace, to know that my life is in God’s hands.

From then on my passion for Christ has flourished and I feel a burning desire inside of me has finally been unchained.  I am now able to truly know God and His Word and I have a community to help support me through it all. I love reading God’s Word, learning more about His character and growing with and in Him. Accepting His forgiveness of my sin, literally, has lifted a weight off my shoulders because I feel as if I don’t need to work for God’s love anymore.  He has given it to me freely and from that, I am finally pursuing Him.

Blessed are you when people hate you and exclude you, revile and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for this is what their ancestors did to the prophets.   – Luke 6:22-23

Sharon Yu (Baptism)

I am 20 years old attending Ryerson University studying Early Childhood Studies. I was born and raised in a Christian family, so I always had somewhat of an understanding about Jesus and Christianity. I always believed that Jesus existed. I don’t recall a time in my life when I didn’t believe that He was there and that He died on the cross and resurrected on the third day to save the whole world from every single sin. To me, Jesus was very real and a huge presence in my life.

Although I had the knowledge of Christianity, I didn’t take it very seriously and I took it for granted.  I had the mindset where I thought, “Oh, I’m Christian. I know the basic Bible stories. I know God saved me. I go to church every Sunday and I help out and participate in events. I’m pretty much set for life.” This prevented me from really knowing and understanding Jesus as I almost undermined His power and His existence. As I said before, I was raised in the church, so I had the feeling that it was a privilege to have Jesus in my life.

I never understood how important it was and how much I needed Jesus until I was 16 years old when I attended Youth Kosta. I came from a small church, so it was a huge shock to be in a room full of so many young people like me. There was one night when a pastor was leading the prayer session and he said, “Pray for someone close to you who you want to believe Jesus.” At that moment, I immediately thought of my aunt. While I was praying for her, I realized how much of a blessing I have had to know Jesus Christ. I realized how important and amazing it was and how sad it would be without Him in my life. I think that this was the moment when I truly accepted Christ into my life as Lord and Saviour. During this time, I realized that although this is a great blessing, I also realized how much I didn’t deserve it and what a sinner I am. I am undeserving of His great love and blessing of eternal life. The only reason I am getting into heaven to live eternal life with Jesus is because of Him and His act of pure unconditional love, the greatest sacrifice.

Before truly becoming Christian, although I had the knowledge of Jesus and what He did for us, I lessened its value.  I felt that since I had it, my life was set and I didn’t have to do much else. Now, however, I understand how important Jesus is and how just accepting Him is not enough, but you must strive to become more holy and like Christ. I also discovered how important a local church is to me and how much I value Christian community as I learned that we learn and grow through fellowship with one another. When I first came to Young Nak, I felt very distant with the people there and didn’t feel like I was a part of the community. However, recently, I have gained much more community as I began to talk with more people and go to events. I also feel that God has changed my heart and allowed me to accept Young Nak. I feel much better knowing that I have Christian friends with whom I can talk.

A verse I love is James 1:2 which says,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Often, we blame God for our hardships saying things like, “God, why would you do this to me?” and we almost never think of our troubles as joy or something to be thankful for. However, we should know that God loves us so much and would never give us anything we couldn’t handle.

Nathanael Chung (confirmation)

My life before coming to know Christ was actually a quaint one. I did not have anything close to what some may refer to as a “mid-life crisis”. I seriously believed that I would outgrow the community in which I grew up, leave it to fulfill my own destiny and Christianity would become an afterthought. That meant that I would never go back to church once I was able to live on my own.

I was by no means a “perfect” person. I believed the flaws of all people were to be either accepted or ignored, never changed. I believed in letting others live their lives the way they saw fit as long as their personal liberty did not impact mine — a passive, neutral life, but it was the one I knew, and the one I accepted as my own.

My relationships with most people, even my own family, were all distant. Affection towards others was seldom expressed. I hid most of my true thoughts for fear of being judged for expressing them.  Although anger, sadness, anxiety are normal and expected emotions, I felt they were always looked down upon no matter what. I knew these mental stresses lower quality of life, yet I saw no true remedy in sight since it only exasperated the negative emotions and didn’t address their root cause; being totally deficient in spiritual matters meant I had no outlet to relieve my mental strains. This meant I was always on the verge of an insane outburst, but I discovered the truth about the eternal salvation that I never had to earn and the loving God who saved me even when I was wholly undeserving.

It surprises me how I came to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and truly begin a relationship with God. It was at a high school retreat that my life was thrown into a different direction. It wasn’t anything particularly moving; it was during the height of the evening in the final night where the biggest worship session took place. The pastor called upon the congregation to ask the person beside them if they want to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. At this time, I considered myself a Christian, though only by name, but I wasn’t about to tell anybody that. My friend beside me asked the question. I had to make a choice. Do I, awkwardly, say no and claim that I was already a Christian or say yes, go up to the altar and finally accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior? Bear in mind, I thought I was a Christian, but saying no would have ruined “the moment” for my friend, so I played along and said yes.

I had to go up, I had to tell everyone the lie that I am not a Christian and if I didn’t really believe in God, what did I have to worry about? I could just continue pretending like before, and after the retreat was over, go back to living my life the way I wanted. Perhaps it was the guilt inside that I was lying to all those nice people. Maybe it was the fact that I could have been exposed that night. Or, maybe God’s will finally broke through my life and showed me a new path that my life could take, but something happened.

I won’t try to build this up. I wasn’t too keen on paying attention, as the pastor explained the significance and welcomed us into a new life in Christ. I just wanted that night to be over, but as the pastor asked around if there was any more he could do to explain the meaning behind the commitment to being in a relationship with God as well as an opportunity to talk about anything, I found myself compelled to take him up on that offer. So, I did. I revealed my life to him and explained how my life was. We prayed, he spoke some words of encouragement and I thanked him.

That moment marked my time as a person saved by Christ. It’s not something I take lightly either because it is the moment that I accepted the love of Jesus Christ into my heart which saved me from eternal damnation. I went from being without hope to being saved. Because I took that initial, courageous step toward Jesus, I received salvation. I was saved by nothing but the grace of God who reached out to me in my darkest hours. Because I was saved, I came to revere him and praise him because he, in his infinite wisdom and power, saved a sinner like me. Undoubtedly, God is eternal, and ultimately, the Lord above all and his love endures forever.

My family was elated to find out that I had accepted Jesus Christ into my heart, which I didn’t recognize at the time. My family had always wanted me to come to Christ on my own volition despite raising me in a Christian family. God understood who I was because he loved me and of his own will, chose to sacrifice his one and only Son to save a wretch like me. My thinking about everything I assumed as truth in my life was challenged rationally and it convicted me like never before. I had to reject everything I thought I knew and begin learning about God all over again from the ground up.

I heard one extremely important message about how prayer is a conversation with God. God is my Lord, but he is also someone I can talk to, my friend. Instead of asking for everything, I pray in thanks to him and to worship him. Prayer has become an important part of my life because of how much more often I begin to do it, instead of just in the morning, evening and before meals. Prayer is, essentially, my gateway to God and it makes me stronger in my relationship with him by helping me to see his will for me and making me put my life into perspective.

I recall one verse I learned in Hi-C Sunday School that my teacher always pushed the class to memorize:

Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

This single passage gave me the strength to push forward and continue to seek God. As with all relationships, the growth comes from the interaction between the two. I may stumble in this relationship and fail to follow his commands, but It gives me endless hope that he is always watching over me and that his will is always to guide me. If I don’t seek the Lord, how could I ever know the answers to the problems of our lives? However, this verse doubles as a warning; since he has a plan for me, I must walk that path.  The Lord not only gives me a path, but a command to follow and serve him.

The years after accepting Christ have given me insight into the strength of community, as well as shown me first hand, the people who have helped me through my life at this church even as I was a non-Christian. It makes me realize now that God has blessed me with a community of fellowship in my family and friends. They gave me the courage to announce, publicly, my faith in Jesus Christ.

I still have so much to learn about God and his will, but my life had been filled with zeal since the day I accepted him into my heart and I will continue to follow in his footsteps because of his unending grace and overflowing love.