By Brandon Tan, NTU
I am Brandon, a student from NTU, and I will be sharing about how I have experienced the saving grace of God in my life.
I am a cradle Catholic, born to a non-Catholic mother and a father who left the church even before I was born. Growing up, there were few opportunities to get to know the faith as my family barely mentioned the name of God. My parents only did drill into me the importance of working hard and achieving success in the future so that I did not have to suffer. To them and subsequently to me, there was nothing that hard work could not solve. Hence, in the early years of my life, God was nowhere in the picture as it was just only about me and no one else.
This disposition of self-sufficiency extended to almost every area of my life, leading to me building up high walls around my heart and only allowing selective people into my life. Thus, I wore different masks for separate occasions, choosing to hide the sides of me that I did not want others to see.
Despite this struggle to actively seek the Lord in discovering my identity, He never stopped chasing after me. As I matured, the Lord presented one opportunity after another to draw closer to Him. One of these opportunities came in the form of SOCL 2020. During the school, one particular encounter with the Lord stood out to me. As my facilitator closed my lunchtime touch time with him in prayer, he said he was drawn to the image of a Chinese opera performer, “bian lian”. My facilitator said that while I had been trying to live a life free from masks, perhaps there was still a layer of makeup that I had yet to remove.
At that moment, I broke down into tears as that prophetic image was the very same one a brother got while praying for me the first time we exercised our gifts of prophetic prayer during the School of Witness 2019. Surely, this was more than a mere coincidence. Deep down, I knew that the façade I had been stubbornly clinging on to was the most apparent at home – a place that I struggle mightily to claim who God made me to be. Despite all the grace that the Lord has already lavished upon me the past few years, He is so generous in love and grace that He relentlessly knocks on the doors of the broken areas of my life so that He can mend them in His time.
However, my faith in this truth would be tested just a few weeks later in the days leading up to the Kickstart retreat for incoming university freshmen. Being a part of the planning committee, I witnessed every single one of us trying our best to spread the love of Christ to the incoming freshmen through the various online activities, especially since it was the first lockdown that we had experienced as a church. It all the more broke my heart when it was announced that the country would commence phase 2 just a couple of days before the retreat. I remembered asking Jesus in slight exasperation, “why now of all times Jesus?”
Brandon with his Kickstart friends in 2020
While I did not receive an answer to my question, Jesus once again proved that He is unrivalled in love and grace through the Kickstart retreat. Listening to the thanksgiving testimonies which brought the retreat to a close showed me how great God is. There is nothing that He will not overcome for His children. No pandemic, physical restrictions or human planning can limit God’s love. He transcends all that is humanly possible and transforms what little faith I have into miracles.
The fact that the retreat took place in my own home, amongst my family members who were present in the other rooms of my house showed me that He is the one who gives me the courage to serve Him without any masks. Wherever I may be, whether it is a place of comfort or uneasiness, I did not need to be afraid of unapologetically being who He made me to be.
Till this day, there are times when I still find it hard to evangelise to my family, or be entirely comfortable with being myself around them. Yet, the grace that the Lord has provided in healing me have only borne life and not death. All the struggles that I have faced and will have to face is not meant to toy with me, but to form me. Brothers and sisters, this is the nature of God’s saving grace in your lives. Will you submit yourself to the grace of God today?