Karen

My mom has always been a Christian so when I was young, I attended Sunday school. I knew God existed, and I knew that there was heaven and hell. I thought God was like a headmaster, someone who was watching over us and created everything, that was about it. I did not know anything about Jesus, so for a very long time, the relationship between God and me was really distant.

I grew up in Hong Kong. My dad was the main provider of our family. He worked very hard so we rarely had much time to spend together and because of this, I always thought working and studying hard could make him proud.  If I scored 90% on a test, I wanted to get the extra 10%. I loved to be surrounded by people because it made me look good. My identity and security was rooted in gaining people’s approval/relationships.

I was in a series of romantic relationship that had the same unhealthy patterns. I dated guys who never wanted to communicate and turned out to be very possessive, sometimes verbally abusive. I didn’t know what love was and I always felt I did something wrong. I thought I failed if they didn’t love me back, so I kept striving to be better by conforming to what they wanted me to be, and I slowly lost my identity in every single relationship. I went into a series of relationships without any breaks in between for about 8 years. It hurt every single time, but then I would do it again because I thought having a family/marriage would make my life complete, and I just felt that looking for “the one” was what I needed to do.

The last relationship I had before I found Jesus was with a man who had a really successful career, people loved hanging out with him and he was a friendly, decent guy. Our conversations were substance-less and superficial. Without knowing what it was like to be loved and being so desperate for love, I was so convinced that we would eventually work out. I was willing to settle for this kind of relationship, so I attached all my emotions to a shallow relationship. My life and my thoughts were completely reliant on him until one day, he changed, he was cold and distant, and instead of having a mature conversation to explain what happened and what was in his mind, he just disappeared. I was shattered, exhausted, and felt condemned. I was confused because I didn’t know what went wrong, and I thought God was punishing me and was disciplining me. I wanted to know the answer, and I wanted to rescue this relationship. I thought by going to church more regularly, I could please God and eventually, he would reward me by giving this relationship back to me.

Before these experiences, I just went to church on an irregular basis. I never really got involved. I didn’t plant myself. I didn’t have any fellowship, and I didn’t ever talk to anyone. I would go and then I’d leave. I would listen to sermons but would never really remember any messages. I liked to worship just because I like to sing, but I didn’t even truly understand what worship was.

The first time I went to church after making this decision, the first song that played at that service was “You Make Me Brave” from Bethel. I just started crying. I felt like God was telling to be brave. He was encouraging me and saying that I had been very brave to ask for clarity in that moment despite the answer I might face. I felt that was the moment I knew I truly needed to plant myself in the church. It was a very defining moment. I knew I needed God.
I was on fire for God. I preferred listening to sermons or just to cry or pray to God whenever I struggled with my emotions. It was the first time in my life to be solely dependent on God for his comfort and started talking to him like a friend. I started to experience his peace, his love and truly understand what he did for me on the cross. I trust that he is my father and my friend that never fail me.

Jesus also took care of my struggle in trusting people. He placed me in an amazing fellowship group where I could connect with Christian friends and build authentic relationships. They walked with me, encouraged me and spoke life over me. I was slowly healed and was only be able to healed by his work in my life. My friends saw a change in me, and it was noticeable – even if I didn’t notice it. And through the changes they saw, they began to feel a curiosity about Jesus, and they began attending church with me. I was so grateful for that and was amazed at his grace and his unfailing love to me and I eventually decided to commit my life to Christ and got baptized.

Jesus also slowly changed my perspective on my past. He gently showed me that my stronghold was idolizing guys and my security was rooted in the romantic relationships instead of him. He taught me what it was meant to live freely and to be sensitive to my surroundings. I have a major compassion for women, and I found my mission in women who placed their security in men as I had. I began doing human trafficking outreach, talking to people working in bars like the mamasans – the pimps. I built relationships with them, praying and believing that our heavenly father would love to have relationships with his daughters, to soften their hearts and give them hope, to restore them like what he did in my life and for them to live freely through the love of Christ, what he did for us on the cross.

I am still in the process of knowing God. I think it will take me more than my lifetime to know who He is. He works in so many ways. You need so many revelations just to understand a single new aspect of his character. I am eternally grateful for what he did in my life and I pray that I would always be his light in the darkness.