Just before the pandemic was in full force in early 2020, I was baptized. But for most of my life, I was very skeptical of Christianity. What happened?
My coming to faith has been a gradual journey — at first being quite resistant to the idea — then selectively choosing what to learn from the sermons — and then at some point, my heart opened to God at an accelerated pace. It has been a few years since the first Sunday I stepped into a Redeemer service in NYC, and I am in awe as I never thought I would become a follower of Christ, let alone tell others about my newly-found faith. I am truly grateful to have a new identity in Christ!
I grew up in a Buddhist family, and until about a few years ago, I would have most closely affiliated with Buddhism. I never really had the opportunity to study or learn about Christianity, Jesus Christ, or the Bible, other than in my high school English class, where we studied the first few chapters of Genesis in a literary sense. I also had a pretty strong negative association with Christianity, because unfortunately I used to be very judgmental towards people who were different than I was. So I considered Christians to be either too aggressive [in evangelism], too naive [in believing the unbelievable], too nice [to wonder whether it was genuine], or too cliquey [to accept me].
I began attending Redeemer to support my husband, Will — but only sporadically. Even though I really didn’t want to be at church on Sundays, I liked the music, and could relate to the lessons of each sermon. I appreciated its logical 3-point format, and the fact that Redeemer made skeptics like me feel welcome. While listening to the 3-point sermons, I often found the pastor’s first two points mostly relatable and applicable to my life, but I usually dreaded when point number 3 was being discussed — I found it uncomfortable. It made me roll my eyes and tune out as it was linked to Jesus Christ dying on the cross for us (and me) and his resurrection, which I did not believe in. I did not understand what Jesus’s death meant, and certainly did not think I had anything to do with his death.
Miraculously, now as a recently baptized Christian, point number 3 is the most beautiful part of the sermon, where it melts my heart that Jesus died for me to save me!
So how did this happen for me?
Even though I was sure that nothing in this world would make me become a Christian, I one day found myself humming hymns that I had heard at Redeemer that past Sunday. Subsequently, I often found myself re-listening to sermons and taking notes, especially while I was going through some challenges in my career in 2018. I started attending Sunday service more regularly and wanted to give Christianity a chance and explore it. In March 2019, I had the perfect opportunity to learn about Christianity through attending the Questioning Christianity (“QC”) series taught by Dr. Tim Keller. To ask him tough questions, questions I had for a long time, I started reading the Bible for the first time in my life.
As a positive side effect of reading the Bible, I was amazed how the New Testament answered so many questions I had about how to live a meaningful life, which I had only been searching for in personal development books and in spiritual talks at Buddhist temples. While I started attending Questioning Christianity to prove to myself that my historical beliefs were more superior than that of Christianity, the facts supporting Christianity made more and more sense, and the beauty of Jesus Christ seemed more and more real each week. I began to study the Bible more deeply and spoke to people who could help answer my questions.
I realized I was gradually becoming a follower of Christ when my identity started shifting and I changed the way I viewed myself while learning about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Like most New Yorkers, I too have suffered from perfection syndrome and the need for significance and acceptance in my life. In my professional career, while working at Goldman Sachs for almost 10 years, as well as subsequently making a career change to cook at top Michelin-starred restaurants in Manhattan, I was so desperate to be the best employee and the best cook, and in that process did not have good relationships with some of my colleagues whom I did not respect. I thought I had the highest standards, but my life was exhausting and often disappointing because I never lived up to my standards. Were my standards even right to begin with?
One of the turning points came when I met with a Redeemer staff member for coffee and I found myself praying with her in public in the middle of the afternoon in a cafe in midtown Manhattan. I didn’t know what was happening and didn’t recognize myself, yet at the same time I never felt more alive and sure of who I was. Also, the various classes at Redeemer West Side have been truly beneficial in growing my knowledge and faith to live a more gospel-centered life.
Since becoming a Christian, Jesus Christ showed me what it means to be truly loved and be accepted unconditionally despite my flaws. Because of his grace, I am learning to let go of my blind chase of perfectionism and the desire to be accepted by everyone. Jesus gave up his life to forgive a sinner like me, someone who is judgmental, envious, critical, and at times not compassionate toward others — knowing and feeling this grace and love radically has changed my identity.
Jesus gave up his life to forgive a sinner like me, someone who is judgmental, envious, critical, and at times not compassionate toward others — knowing and feeling this grace and love radically has changed my identity.
I am still a work in progress, but under the full guidance of God, I know I am accepted as I am, no matter what. Through Jesus Christ’s teaching and his grace, I truly believe I am a different person now, and I have never been more full of joy and gratitude. God is the foundation of my life and glorifying God is my purpose and my drive. Christianity used to make me roll my eyes — it now melts my heart. I cannot wait to deepen my faith and see where God will lead me as I continue my journey, not alone, but in Christ, and in fellowship with my Redeemer community.