I have news to share and it is already 2 weeks overdue!

My Dad’s long search for God had finally come to an end. He had reached a decision. After more than 2 decades of searching for answers to the inner most need of the human soul, the need for a meaningful spiritual existence, he had taken the Pascal’s Wager and decided to place his stake on Christ! It was a surreal moment seeing him make his way through the crowd in response to the grace of God, the gift of salvation, Jesus Christ himself. It was unbelievable given his past resistance. We discovered later that he still does not have all the answers to his satisfaction but I guess what he had was enough to take the leap of faith. What can I say, truly God is faithful to save us and our whole household.

If you know my Dad, you’ll know that he has come a long way in his spiritual journey. He is skeptical and cautious by nature; not one to be easily influenced no matter how convincing something sounds. And there is an aura of pride around him so that he doesn’t submit himself to any idea or person without a fight. However, my Dad has always been in tune with his spiritual side. He is always curious about spirituality. In the years after his retirement, he spent considerable time studying the various religions. He would read extensively and love to engage in dialogues about them. As is typical of most Asian Chinese, my parents were brought up worshipping a variety of idols. Their worldview was a cross between Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Seeking guidance and protection from the various gods and forces via mediums and shi fu (masters) were not uncommon. So is fortune-telling and future-forecasting; they were part of South-East Asian Chinese culture. Later on, both he and my Mom became heavily involved with Nichiren-Buddhism to the point that my Dad almost set up an altar for the Gohonzon in our home. As it turns out, he discovered something in it’s teachings which unsettled his heart, so the plan was aborted. Eventually, Mom came to know and accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ while Dad started investing his time and effort to investigate the purer form of Buddhism, pouring through Buddhist literature and sriptures. That covered a good part of his latter years. At the same time he also explored Judeo-Christian teachings especially after seeing his wife and his children converted one after another. I suspect in the beginning he felt it was a religion for weaklings and simple minded people. That was the way he sees Mom, thus he didn’t want to be associated much with it. However he did not object to her conversion, though he did on many occasions tried to ridicule mom’s young faith. Once, not long after my own conversion, he sent me a book on a Buddhist’s critique of Christianity and another to help me understand Buddhism. We exchanged several correspondence about our faith. With his extensive reading (he is after all a learned man), he felt he already knew all there is to know about Christianity and was even more proud of his deep knowledge of Buddhism. In his eyes, Christianity falls short (read: too simple) compared to the intellectual and deep teachings of Buddhism. Buddhism and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are worlds apart at it’s very core. Buddhists work for their own salvation and so have no need for a God. Christians receive salvation as a gift of grace from God the Creator, who is the reason and purpose for every form of existence. It is no wonder that grace is a difficult concept for Buddhist to comprehend or accept. Throughout these years, he was resistant to the Gospel, frequently finding fault with it and used the failures of the institutionalized church and individual Christians as justification for his rejection. Yet he was wise and humble enough to know that he could have missed something of infinite importance and so left a foot at the door to his heart and mind. Somewhere, somehow, a seed was planted and by God’s grace, it finally took root, after more than a decade. And all of heaven rejoiced with us!

As I went up to congratulate him, he said it was a decision long overdue! I was curious about how he came to such an unexpected decision. He said he could not deny any longer what his conscience and heart tells him to be true – we have a soul and there is a Creator God. He could not reconcile that witness in his heart with what Buddhism taught him. He also could not accept the teaching that one can never fully understand the Buddha Way until one becomes the Buddha. To him that is just as good as saying one can never reach the destination. My sister who sees more of him, living in the same country, feels that the recent episode over my brother’s situation could have further reinforced his need to find peace in God. She revealed to me how Dad wept on the phone over my brother’s situation but quickly hanged up out of embarrassment. None of us has ever seen our Dad cry. But that day she saw his vulnerability. Sometime last year, he also faced a period of uncertainty and worry over his health. Till today he will still tell you that it was God’s intervention that delivered him. On both occasions he confessed to asking Jesus for help. It was a humbling experience just watching him stretch out his hands to receive the gift of salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to relinquish control of his life and destiny over to Him. For someone who is always in control, this is a major step forward. Although some of his beliefs are still a little muddled and deviate from commonly accepted Christian doctrine, we trust that God’s Spirit now resident in him will guide him into all truth just as the Bible promises. Dad’s conversion has taught us never to give up trusting in God’s faithfulness. The answer to our prayers may take more than a decade to materialize, that was how long ago since my mother prayed for his salvation, but it’s not over until God says it’s over.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

rk

Dad’s new birth was on 24th February, 2008 at New Creation Church in Singapore. He lives with Mom in our hometown in Ipoh, Malaysia. They were visiting at that time.

Advertisements