by stpauls 11/September/11
Will Weavers - What has lead you be being baptised today?
I feel that I want to get baptised today to declare that I am no longer against God. Since I can remember until this year I was an atheist. For the most part I believed in no God, and the part of me that did believe in Him, felt against Him. This was for a number of reasons, such as being told when I was growing up, that having not been christened I would not be accepted into his Kingdom regardless of the life I lived. For years this left me bitter at Christianity, especially since I saw no way of being able to enter the church without going against the beliefs of most of my friends and family. Nor did I want to join a church based on what I thought church was at the time.
I started attending St Paul's this year with my girlfriend May, partly out of curiosity and partly to get an understanding of the religion she believed in. Initially I struggled to let go of years of built up feelings against Jesus, and it took me a while to feel comfortable worshipping the God I had mocked or opposed all my life. Before long though, I started finding myself enjoying church and valuing its teachings. The life course was a big turning point for me. Through learning about Jesus, how he has worked in everyday people's lives, and then through learning to experience God for myself I became a believer. The first theology course then helped me to understand the first section of the bible, something I had questioned for a long time.
Now that I have embraced having Jesus in my life I cannot imagine going back. I find Christianity to be a deeply positive influence in my life, and realise that previously I had actually known very little about it. So today I want to get baptised to declare that I am for God and wish to have Jesus in my life.
How has Jesus made a difference?
It is hard for me to put into words how Jesus has made a difference, in the sense that he has made a difference in a holistic way. Through coming to faith I feel that Jesus has given new meaning to my life and changed how I view the world.
If two words sum up how Jesus has made a difference in my life they are comfort and hope. I feel comfort in knowing that God has purpose for our lives, and that he watches over us with love and grace.
Whenever I feel stressed or worried about something I pass on my problems to Jesus through prayer and feel comforted, and often see actual results. I feel hope in knowing that Jesus will help guide my way through life, so that I do not to be in full control it. This gives me hope that the future will be ok even when I cannot foresee how it will work out.
I don’t know which word can describe my feeling at this moment: excited, joyful, peaceful...more exactly “home”. Yes, “home’ is the exact word. I think only a person who has experienced a life of wandering can understand the meaning of home better. Now I have come back home, our Father’s home. Warmth and peace are filling my heart.
I remember clearly when I just came to New Zealand. My feeling was like a small, lone boat floating in the rough sea. I felt so lonely, helpless and upset. By chance I learnt there are free keyboard and English classes in the St. Paul Church from my friend Pauline. For me church was mysterious, something far away from my life. But I went into church because my daughter wanted to learn the keyboard. Consequently, I got to know Michael, Heather, Alison and some others. I was touched by their kindness. They made me think why they would do these things for no pay. I couldn’t understand because when I was living in China most of the people are crazy to make money. Later I knew this was because they were Christians and are devoted to Jesus. Was it true that Jesus could give them such power and love? Then I started to attend the International Worship and Bible Class on Tuesday nights. It was difficult for me to have a religion. My major is Engineering and we always need to find evidence before we are convinced. Actually at first I resisted religion, but when I was in church I felt very peaceful and my heart got purified. Then every time I went to church I felt like I was getting power. Gradually I loved going to church. My daughter believed in Jesus quickly and encouraged me to go regularly.
One night I suddenly had severe pain and was taken to Auckland Hospital for an emergency operation. The first night I was in a lit of pain. I couldn’t sleep. I was half asleep. A doctor came and said to me,”You have to stay for two more days, but don’t worry.” Then he examined me and said again, “Don’t worry.” His voice was so tender and I thought he was so perfect, like an angel. After he left I checked the time. It was 2am. I later found out that this was unusual. I believed that he was an angel. I was touched by love from God. On that day I decided to be a Christian and to be baptized.
Although I can’t understand the Bible fully and I can’t understand many things –but I am learning and am devoting myself to God. So today is the most important and meaningful day in my life. From today I get a new life, like a caterpillar shedding its cocoon to become a butterfly. I will have a beautiful life because God has given me a new heart and new birth. I can soar like an eagle because God gives me power.
I heard some words and stories about the God in China, but I never thought I would become a Christian. I went to the church with Hongmei on the second day after I arrived at Auckland. Hongmei has helped me a lot before and after I came to New Zealand, and I would like to give her a very special ‘Thanks’.
I met Michael, Heather, and Alison ... at the Saturday Keyboard & Guitar group. I had never met people like them before. They are very kind and helpful to other people, and always treat international students like a family. Michael is like a mentor in my life. We talked and shared many things, and he prayed for me sometimes.
In January of last year, I met Jun, the most beautiful and important girl in my life. We shared our life and the values. On the 10th of February, Michael, Chelsea and I had a very special time of prayer in the church, I asked Jesus to forgive me sins, and declared that Jesus is my lord.
It is hard to describe the difference in my life in words, but you can see it if you compared my life now with what it was before I ask Jesus to come to my life. Most of the time, I feel steady and more peaceful. My life has meaning because of Holy Spirit leading me.
We understand that we are sinful, but we want to follow the Jesus, the righteousness Lord.
Jun (Chelsea) Chen
When I was a child, I always believed there was a God. I was very curious, and I started to ask many questions about God.
There was a book store near my home, and I visited that book store sometimes. One day I saw a book called The Story of Jesus. At that time I thought that it was a fiction book. I had heard about Christianity through my history class. There was only a short paragraph about Christianity, so I bought that book and discovered more. I read it as a story book, but I did not fully understand. Christianity is not a major religion in China; people do not have much knowledge about it, and I did not know any Christians to talk about it. There were still many questions about God left in my mind.
After I came to New Zealand, I was invited to a church, and I found out that the Bible is actually not fiction, and I heard the good news about Jesus. I still had many questions about the Bible at that time; however I wanted to worship God, because I was so thankful that God has done many wonderful things for me, so I decided to be a Christian, and asked Jesus to come into my life.
After I became Christian, I read the Bible and understand it more. I have found many good words in the Bible which protect me from mistakes. When I have questions in my life, I pray to ask God for answers, and God leads me in the right direction.
Although never baptised as a child, I was raised in a warm, loving and active Christian family in England. Half way through my teens, my parents’ marriage fell apart and along with it, my whole world. I became angry at life and felt that God had deserted me. I turned away from Christ and ‘Opted out’ of a life that involved him. For the best part of 10 years, I lived what some might call an un-Christian life which despite being enormous fun, gradually held less and less meaning for me. Through my mid-twenties, I began to wonder who I had become and was behaving in ways that I was not proud of. Around this time, I started talking to God again. I started spending time with Christians in my family and their friends, and gradually, through attending HTB in London, my faith was rekindled and I asked Jesus back into my life. Slowly but surely, I felt the changes he was making and I trusted more and more of my life to him.
In 2007 I visited New Zealand to see an old flame Nick, who eventually moved to London so that we could be close to one another. We finally made the decision to base ourselves here in New Zealand. Since emigrating to New Zealand 18 months ago, God has been my rock. There have been some low times, when I’ve felt very far away from my friends and family, but Jesus has been there throughout and now we are planning our wedding back in London during our first return trip since departing in 2009. I wanted to be baptised to honour God, to say thank you for being there for me and for welcoming me back into his arms. For me, it’s about ‘Opting back in’ to a life with Christ – a journey I’m very excited about embarking upon.
Thanks so much to you, Mathew and the team for making last week such a special occasion.
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