By Damien Tan Hong Kuang
My journey with Jesus started after I attended a Christmas play at my relative’s church when I was a young boy. I was young and impressionable and decided to become a Christian because my relative had said that I would not be saved if I did not. So, I started praying. Although I was unsure if Jesus really existed, during those tremulous days in my childhood, praying every night provided some form of solace and peace. My relationship with God then was mainly transactional – I prayed for things to give me peace or for things to go right when I needed them to. I never really read the Bible and would not go to church often.
As I grew up, I grew more and more distant from Him and by that time no longer felt his presence in my life. Although from time to time I would go for church events when my friends invited me (as a way to reconnect with him), it usually did not do much. Eventually I became an atheist when I entered university and believed that there was no God. I believed that we were alone in our struggles and that all our efforts and successes were due to our own hard work alone.
This went on until I started working in a research lab and met some of my Protestant and Catholic colleagues. Through them, I saw how their faith in Jesus led them to be who they are – good, kind and at times selfless Christians. It was then that I started having the feeling of God inviting me back to being a Christian. Over time, I started to look back and saw how Jesus had actually been with me all this time through the mugging session I had alone, to the times I almost missed the grade I wanted to achieve but somehow, by a stroke of some miracle got it, to getting a good job and meeting great Christian colleagues. The final push to go back to God was when I met my girlfriend after entering medical school. I learnt more about the Catholic faith and saw her do God’s work from time to time. Although she was the one who brought me to RCIY, God had already prepared my heart by reaching out to me over the past many years.
Being a mostly concrete and cognitive person, faith and spirituality was something I always struggled with. I always needed concepts to be more tangible or applicable to real world scenarios for me to fully grasp and understand. My journey through RCIY not only provided the knowledge to help me understand who Jesus is and what it means to be a Catholic, but it also provided an avenue to have those concepts and teachings explained in more familiar and relatable scenarios. This has allowed me to not only have a better understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church but also allowed me to grow in faith in Jesus. Sometimes, the verses from a scripture reading during RCIY felt like answers or words of encouragement for a stressful or bad period of my life. With each passing week, I grew closer to Him.
Jesus touched my life tangibly by helping me feel less anxious and more at peace with each passing day. I have encountered Jesus as my guiding light especially when I needed to make difficult decisions. Through my RCIY journey, I have begun to grow a deeper in faith and started rebuilding my relationship with Jesus and I pray that this relationship will continue to deepen and grow stronger with time. Dear friend, I invite you to take that leap and open you heart to Jesus. May you, in doing so, experience the marvels He has to offer!