by Jonathan Tham, Living Vessels Community
Prior to entering university, my relationship with God felt like barren land. Despite knowing that there was a faint prompting in me to return to the Lord, I wasn’t sure how to. Yet, it was in this season that a friend invited me to OYP’s Private Universities Community (Living Vessels) for a session. Being unfamiliar with what community was and acknowledging how far away from God I was, I felt doubtful and unworthy. Nonetheless, I continued to remain hopeful of how God would restore and speak to me through Living Vessels.
Stepping into community re-surfaced the deep-seated wounds that led me to my flawed perception of what a Church group should be like. Yet, it was in this place of vulnerability that my feelings of being distant from God and past hurts were met by love and affirmation through the people I met in community. I encountered the Lord’s love for me, a love that showed me that I am accepted for who I am, not what I could do or had to offer. God slowly softened my hardened heart through the love and acceptance I received in community.
One of the saving graces I encountered in my journey with Living Vessels, was when I was invited to step up as a coordinator. I was hesitant due to my feelings of inadequacy and the fear that past hurts would resurface. When I shared these fears with my then coordinators, they proclaimed the truth of the Lord’s mercy in my life and proposed that perhaps, by responding to God’s invitation, I was also responding to His saving grace and healing works in my life . I would have never seen how service could lead me to my healing and salvation especially after all I had gone through on my own. I then came to realise that it was the Lord’s invitation for me to draw close to Him as I stepped up to lead. This reminded me of the call of St. Peter, where Jesus asked St Peter three times, “Do you love me?’. With each of these instances, I was invited to claim my chosenness as God’s beloved, subsequently answering the call to community living, and then, the call to leadership.
In retrospect, I saw how God was the first-mover in drawing me close to Him, through the invitation to join community. Through my openness, the Lord continued to show me how small my sins, fears and feelings of unworthiness were compared to the greater and perfect love He has for me.
As OYP celebrates our 9th birthday, I am reminded of the words of St John Paul II, ‘Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ!’. May OYP, as an instrument of the Lord, continue to be an open door for many more young people to encounter the living Lord just as I have, and be empowered to move in mission ‘to make disciples of all nations’. May the Lord bless OYP in her mission to raise many more generations of disciples to come. Amen!
As we celebrate OYP’s 9th anniversary, it is only fitting that we do so in a spirit of deep gratitude and thanksgiving to the Lord. He is the one that continues to write the stories of our dear young people and brings healing to their lives. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing nine such stories as we celebrate the past nine years. We thank you Lord for your faithfulness! #OYPTurns9