#OYP200FOR200: Coming Home (Bryan)

By Bryan Tam, NTU

I am a recent convert to Catholicism, as I was baptised last August. My journey begun in 2019, when I was struggling in university. I reached out to God in my darkest moment and in that moment, I experienced His grace and healing. Over the next year, I attended RCIA and became active in NTU Catholic Students’ Apostolate, joining a cell group and the biweekly community sessions. Through this, I have learnt that God always makes the first move, and all we need is to trust Him – which has led to my baptism last year.

Hi everyone, I’m Bryan, a third-year psychology student at NTU. I was baptised last year, and this is how I got to know Jesus. Way back in February 2019, I remember I was struggling deeply with school. My grades were not the problem, but rather my mental health. I was starting to learn that my old method of studying was not as sustainable as it was in poly. I struggled to find friends that I could count on, and felt a deep sense of emptiness every time I returned to my dorm room. I was experiencing an endless downward spiral of utter despair and unworthiness. Thankfully, as a Psychology student, I recognised that I was slipping into depression. I am thankful that I was still functional enough to recognise it and realise I had to pull myself out of it before it got worse.

I tried many methods that worked before, like running it off, meditation, or watching comedy shows. But nothing worked. One night, I felt like I was at my wit’s end. It was in that darkness that the Our Father, Hail Mary and the Glory Be that I heard in secondary school came back to me in bits and pieces. I remember sitting on my bed, googling the prayers to fill in the gaps in my memory, and then I asked God: “If you are the true God, please help me now”. For me, this was very significant because back then I swore that I would never become a Christian. Sitting there, as I prayed and then pondered about some issues on my mind, I started coming to terms with some of these issues I was grappling with. It was then that I felt a significant portion of the burden on my chest lift off, but not all was gone. It was as if God helped me then, but left a bit so that I would go back to Him. I was shocked at what happened. God was my last resort and He brought a small glimmer of hope into my life.

I then started reading the Bible. The more I read, the more I found that I agreed with Jesus. It got to the point where I asked myself: “I agree with the teachings of this religion, why am I not following it?” It was then that I decided to find out more. One of my friends was in NTU Catholic Students’ Apostolate (CSA) and through her I came to learn more about the faith.

Throughout the following weeks or so, I attended Mass at CSA, and attended one or two of the biweekly community sessions. It was a massive info overload. It was hard, but I felt drawn, and I kept wanting to learn more about this God who I hardly knew, yet reached out to me in my darkest moment.

Over the summer holidays that followed, which is a story for another time, I saw the beauty of God’s work and started to find meaning and direction in my life. Because of these experiences, I wanted to learn more about God, and so I decided to join RCIA and become more active in CSA. Even though I did not know what to expect, my desire to learn more about God and my desire to find friends in community drove me to join CG. There I found brothers who would journey with me and teach me about the faith. They showed me the value of community, as we shared our experiences throughout the semester. 

As I attended more CSA events and RCIA, I recognise that my call is to be the light of Christ to those with mental illnesses, a route I thought I would never take. And on the same note, the Lord opened yet another route I thought I would never take by getting baptised in August last year.

Today, I am a completely different person from the person I was 2 years ago. Jesus has completely changed my life. He has definitely taken me through unchartered paths but the path that I needed to take to live fullness of life that can only be found in Him. Jesus has helped me to see that alone I am weak, and that I need to rely on Him. Without Him, I lived in darkness, but with Him, I have found meaning in life and a light I can look towards no matter how dark times may get. But most of all, I learnt that God always makes the first move and all we need to do is to respond and trust in Him. So brothers and sisters, how will you respond to God’s love for you today?