My Family’s Conversion To Christianity
Testimony By James Lee – Subang Jaya, Malaysia
Twenty-eight years ago, my family lived in Sitiawan, a small town in the state of Perak, Malaysia. Most of the Fuzhou settlers from China immigrated to Sitiawan and adopted Christianity. However, we were Taoists and worshiped our ancestors. My mother never failed to place the daily portion of food on the altar.
As a young boy, I did not dare to go near the altar because I was afraid the gods would punish me if I disturbed them. I was terrified by the way the idols looked, and I only worshiped them because I was afraid they would punish me for neglecting them if I did not. What irony! I knew of this other god called Jesus, but I thought that He was only for Westerners.
One day in June 1981, my mother was on her way to the market, as had been her routine for many years. While she was riding her bicycle, she felt very dizzy all of a sudden. She had difficulty continuing because it was so severe. When she finally cycled home, she was very tired and soon lost her appetite. She immediately went to see a doctor, but he was unable to diagnose her illness.
My father, a staunch follower of the teachings of Taoism, went to the temple to consult a medium. He said that my mother had met the ghost of a man believed to have committed suicide forty years ago by jumping into a well in front of our house. According to the medium, it was possible that she met the ghost while she was drying clothes in front of our house. He said that my mother became ill because of the ghost, and he gave my father a talisman to be burned and then mixed with water to drink. He told my father that this would cast the evil ghost out of my mother’s body.
My father carefully followed the instructions of the medium and gave my mother the burnt talisman. However, it did not do her any good. She felt more miserable, could not sleep well, and felt very cold all the time. Her heart always felt like a piece of ice. During this period of illness, she often felt compelled to call up to the heavens to help her. She did not really know whom she was calling to, but sometimes she would just cry out, “God, please help me!”
After being ill for three months, my mother could no longer perform most of the household chores. I had to help out with washing the dishes and sweeping the floor, chores that a seven-year-old does not like to do. My father was very busy managing a tapioca plantation, so we decided to ask my grandmother to come stay with us.
My maternal grandmother was living in Sungai Siput, a neighboring town, but she did not have a telephone. My father had to call my aunt in Sungai Siput and ask her to pass on the message. It happened that my aunt was a member of the True Jesus Church. When she learned of my mother’s illness, she asked whether she could bring a few deacons to pray for her. Desperately in need of help, we agreed even though we believed that Jesus was a god of the West.
A few days later, my aunt came with two deacons. They prayed for my mother for half an hour and also laid hands on her. At first, we felt uncomfortable because they were praying loudly in tongues, but we ended up praying along with them anyway. Right after the prayer, we could see that my mother’s countenance had changed. She was no longer pale. She even invited the deacons and our aunt to stay for lunch. During the meal, she finished everything that was served. From that day on, after only one prayer, my mother was completely healed and able to lead a normal life once again.
Our family continued to pray to the almighty God and began to attend services at the True Jesus Church in Kampung Koh, the nearest church to Sitiawan. My younger sister and I started attending religious education classes, and I enjoyed listening to Bible stories and singing children’s songs. After attending services for about three months, my mother decided that we should all get baptized. My father was very interested in receiving baptism after the miracle that had happened to my mother; however, he felt it was his duty to uphold the rituals of ancestor worship and be a filial son to his parents. He had reservations because his mother objected to his conversion to Christianity.
My aunt encouraged us to attend the year-end spiritual convocation in Singapore and be baptized there. We took a bus to Singapore to attend the three-day spiritual convocation, leaving my father back in Malaysia. Our baptism was scheduled for Sunday morning. On Friday, during the first evening session of the spiritual convocation, my mother started feeling ill again.
That night she had a dream. She was in a dimly lit room and suddenly felt like vomiting. She used both of her hands to cover her mouth when she vomited, and she felt something in her hands. She walked towards the light to see what it was. To her surprise, she saw the Taoist talisman she had taken months ago when she had first fallen ill.
After that dream, she was no longer sick and was again convinced that Jesus Christ was real and alive. She was confident that the True Jesus Church was indeed the true church. On Sabbath, the day before we were all to be baptized, my mother received the precious Holy Spirit. The joy that she felt when receiving the Holy Spirit was indescribable, and she felt great peace in her heart. The next day, my mother, sister, and I were baptized into the True Jesus Church.
Even though I was only seven years old, I felt that I was a new person after baptism, no longer filled with sin. It was wonderful to feel such joy.
OVERCOMING TRIALS IN PEACE
Months went by after our baptism, and my mother’s sickness never recurred. We attended services regularly. Because my father was still reluctant to be baptized in fear of severing his relationship with his mother, my mother continued to preach to him. She would tell him that the True Jesus Church is indeed the true church where God could be found and that it would be a waste if he were to leave this world without being baptized since he already believed.
Every day she urged him to convert. After three years, my father decided to get baptized despite strong objection from my grandmother. I was very happy when my father was baptized because our whole family was finally in the Lord. The joy that we felt after my father was baptized was dampened whenever our extended family gathered together. I remember vividly that, during reunion dinners, my grandmother would deliberately offer all of the best dishes to the ancestors before serving them at the table. Very little food was left for the four of us to eat.
During All Souls Day (also known as Tomb Sweeping Day), my uncles and aunts would insult my parents, accusing them of being unfilial children because they did not participate in the pagan rituals. Coming from our relatives, such accusations and treatment were very hurtful. However, by relying on our Lord Jesus Christ, we were able to find peace despite the persecution. As it says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
After some years, my grandmother was diagnosed with senile dementia. She started to lose her memory and could no longer take care of herself. At first, each of her nine children took turns to take care of her for three months at a time, but after only one rotation they felt it was too much of a burden.
Disregarding the many times that my grandmother had humiliated her out of resentment for bringing our family to Christianity, my mother patiently took care of her as her own mother. She looked after her every need for four years, up until my grandmother’s last breath. My uncles and aunts were touched by the true filial piety my mother showed my grandmother. From then on, they no longer persecuted us.
I thank God for guiding my whole family through such difficult times and giving us the strength and peace to continue with our faith. As Peter encourages us, [Have] your conduct [be] honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Pet 2:12)
My Family’s Conversion To Christianity: It is truly a blessing from God to be a part of the true church, and I am happy that I grew up with the truth. The heavenly road is never an easy one, but by relying upon our almighty God we will be able to tread with patience so that we will finally inherit the crown of righteousness and glorify His name.
May we all treasure our status as children of God and preach the good news.