When I was in university, studying English was intensive. I learned Bible stories by reading English literature, but looked at them as part of English culture, not as a set of beliefs. And yes, I celebrated Christmas, but did not think beyond the gift giving. God tried to speak to me, but I did not open my heart to listen.
On my first weekend in Canada, I went to a church alone. I was curious and desired to be immersed in the language and culture. I met friends there and was invited to join activities in the church.
As I read the Bible more often, it was sometimes a storybook, especially the New Testament. Today, if someone asks which Bible story I like to share, I mention Zacchaeus, the tax collector who had to climb a tree to see Jesus. His story stirred me—why was he so anxious to see Jesus? Was He a light and flame in his life? I asked myself, where is the flame in my life? Do I have one hidden in my heart? I had no answer.
For me, the Bible also served as a counselling book, giving me comfort because it reminded me to focus regularly on love and goodness so negative thoughts would not darken my mind. Even today, the happiness and peace I receive from the Bible keeps me reading it.
I was still outside the door. Because I did not even realize there was a door I should enter, there was no difference in my spiritual life.
I started attending church regularly on Sundays, and studied the Bible at the International Christian Fellowship. My understanding of the Bible began to change and God’s plan and purpose became clear. I saw that He loved me and wanted me to experience peace and an eternal fulfilling life. But I knew I was a sinner.
I learned that every problem in my life came from my sin and that God gave me a will and freedom to choose. One choice was to take the bridge to God—Jesus Christ. I was told He died for me and paid the penalty for my sin, bridging the gap between God and me. It was for me His blood flowed from His body, so my sins could be cleansed. The gift, I was told, was there if I wanted to take take it. The price had already been paid for me.
My Bible teachers told me that to accept this precious gift, a simple prayer to accept Jesus Christ as my Saviour was enough. But I was doubtful. Is it really that simple?
My doubts persisted until one class when we talked about Jesus and the criminals who were crucified beside Him. It became plain it is never too late to be saved. The criminal who confessed he was a sinner said, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.” Then he asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. That was his way of accepting Him. Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23).
The answer was sure and free of doubt. I was convinced that just by saying a simple prayer and accepting Jesus Christ as my Saviour, I would be saved. One night, I said such a prayer to confess my sins and accept Him as Saviour. I felt nothing holding me back and I accepted God’s free gift!
I have since publicly declared my faith in Jesus Christ through baptism and I seek to embrace this new life by saying no to sin and yes to my Savior. Getting baptized was a special day because I was letting everyone know I will continue to live for my Savior.
I thank the Lord for everyone He used on my journey to Him!
Former international student in Edmonton