I waited 11 years to be water baptised
Lynn Chia // February 11, 2019, 11:14 am
I wasn’t born into a Christian family.
I’ve never had my parents lead me in worship, or devotions or Bible reading. And I’ve never had the luxury of going to church with my family.
When I accepted Christ 10 years ago, it was a decision that I knew would change the rest of my life. After accepting Him as my Lord and Saviour, I remember having this overwhelming sense of peace and assurance rush into my heart.
Nothing around me changed. But the work had already begun within me.
I remembered when I first told my mum that I became a Christian.
Her face contorted with disgust and anger. It was the first time she told me that I was a disappointment to her. My heart sank as my mum started crying. She asked me to choose between God and her. As a 12-year-old then, I was afraid. So afraid.
I didn’t know what choosing Christ meant – but I chose Him anyway.
He broke the bamboo pole and started hitting me with it … The splinters got stuck to the back of my thighs and blood streamed down my legs.
At the same time, my sister had also left the faith. She passed me her Bible and discipleship materials; she didn’t want to be a Christian anymore because she didn’t want to bear the brunt of the consequences or disappoint my mother.
My decision to follow Christ got me locked outside my house for a night. I was made to kneel on stones – to repent of my decision. My mum opened the door around 4am in the morning and came out to ask me if I had changed my mind.
I shook my head in angry tears. My knees hurt. I felt disappointed. But that was also the first time I had prayed to God: “God, I don’t know what to do. Help me.”
Even though my mum eventually let me back into the house, I was persecuted from then on.
I was not allowed to read the Bible, or watch sermons or to listen to any Christian worship songs. If I was caught doing those things – I would be punished. Often it was either the cane or the belt. But sometimes the punishment was dealt with just some random object she could find.
I remember my mother being so affected that she ransacked my room and set my discipleship materials and Bible on fire. She then proceeded to throw everything away.
And my dad was once so angry with me that he broke a bamboo pole and started hitting me with it because I was caught going to church. The splinters got stuck to the back of my thighs and blood streamed down my legs. There were times when I suffered hairline fractures from the beatings. I learnt to just endure the beatings.
There were times in the past 8 years that I felt like leaving the faith, but I got especially good at hiding my wounds. Long shirts and loose pants were my best friends. And I got used to not being able to walk properly after a beating.
There had to be some meaning to all of this pain.
I knew Jesus said that He has overcome the world, and that He who is in me is greater. But it was so difficult. It was so difficult to believe that. I didn’t know how much more I could endure. I had many late nights where I stayed up to read the Bible with a torchlight, or plugged in my earpieces to listen to worship songs – humming as softly as I could as I lay on my tear-stained pillow.
And every trip to the church was a struggle. My mother had confiscated my EZ-Link card, so I would run 2km to church and back before my curfew. My dad made sure to drive me to and from tuition sessions so I wouldn’t be able fellowship with my church friends.
The first time I heard worship music played in my cell leader’s house so freely during fellowship – I broke down.
I didn’t tell any of my cell group leaders what was happening at home because I wanted to feel like a normal kid. I didn’t want to be the poor thing. I didn’t want sympathy – I just needed Christ. I was envious of friends who came from Christian families and how freely they played worship music in their homes. The first time I heard worship music played in my cell leader’s house so freely during fellowship, I broke down.
I hated the secrecy about my faith and really wished my parents would accept it. I spent many nights writing complaints and making tearful pleas: “Please God, save my family. Help me.”
My mother told me that if I went through water baptism, she would disown me as her daughter.
She told me that she wouldn’t want me at her funeral; baptism meant she wouldn’t regard me as part of the family any longer. And I struggled with that so much, especially during services with announcements about water baptism. I would struggle hearing about how baptism is a commitment to Christ and a proclamation of love for God.
There were leaders who told me to just do it and invite my parents to the baptism ceremony. There were leaders who told me to wait until I was 21, when I could make a decision as an adult. I knew it wasn’t time yet.
“God, I love you but I can’t do this right now. Not behind my parents’ back. I can’t tell them this right now: My parents’ marriage is on the rocks and my dad just lost his job. And my sister became a teenage mother. I cannot do this yet.”
I lost count of the times I cried over wanting to be baptised, or whenever the communion cup passed me by every first Sunday of the month.
But in the midst of all the pain, God was doing a deep work in my heart – He was teaching me to intercede for my family. He was breaking my heart for His kingdom. I knew that because He was challenging me: “If you were treated with contempt and abuse, could you still love them?”
Somebody once told me that those closest to you have the greatest ability to hurt you. I found it so true.
Whenever the pastor would talk about interceding for the salvation of our families, it was extremely painful to listen to. I would look at the wounds and scars on my body, and wonder why I would even be praying for any of them.
But the Holy Spirit gave me an assurance of hope. He brought to mind Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
I held onto that verse for 10 years. One day, I will see salvation in my family and Jesus will be the king of our household.
Last April, I finally got my parents’ permission to be water baptised. There was overflowing joy as my dad and brother attended my baptism ceremony. The last 10 years rushed through my mind in that moment, and as I thought about the journey, I could not stop crying because the Lord had finally fulfilled my heart’s desire.
It took 11 years. But He did it.
As I sat in the baptism tank with my leaders, I was in awe.
That moment was just the beginning of a much longer and beautiful story He is writing in my life.