Editor's note: Among Chinese Christians, there are many families with Christian faith. In the past a dozen years, I have met many second or even third generation Christians. They have more or less experienced the confusion and weakness in their faith, and even some later-generation Christians live in the Christian culture, rather than in a relationship with God. Recently, Christian Times, an online Chinese Christian newspaper, interviewed two or third generation believers, hoping that their sharing would provide new reflections and insights to church pastors.
My friend brother SG came to Christ when he was young. His family's faith in God began with his grandmother who was terminally ill and was cured in the trust of God. Then many members of the family began to believe in God. He thought that he laid a solid foundation for his faith since his childhood, but when he grew up, he gradually realized that the sermons and leadership of the church could no longer satisfy him. When he looked back on his past faith experience, he realized that he wanted to seek deeper truth.
SG said with emotion, "In the early 1990s, the rural churches preached all about repenting as Christians, honoring God and benefiting people. I'm not saying these are not important, but only these would make my faith powerless. So that's when I started to feel that my faith gradually became a religion only. Christianity is no longer a faith for me, but a religion. I have studied a lot and listened to the Bible many times since I was a child. After going to college and joining a campus evangelical fellowship, I not only studied God's words, but also received disciple training to serve the church, preach the gospel and love the soul. My understanding of faith began to be entirely renewed and transformed. It was the grace of God that restored my inner self from religious mode to a lively and vital relationship with God."
"It was faith that helps me discover the treasure of Christ and his words. The more I learned His words, the more convinced I felt that God's word are right. This is the rational acceptance of truth. I know that this wass good, but I personally had nothing to do with it. I was still kept away from the treasure. Through deep commitment and the process of serving the church, I updated my framework of personal faith, and began to realize that faith is so important in real service. Even though we cannot see the result of many things now, we still need to do it with faith. I realize that my faith in God has grown firmer," SG added.
Keywords: child Christian, rebellion, gratitude and trust
My friend MY is a Christian co-worker whose parents are both Christians. Before he became a Christian, he often heard the word of God from his parents, "Have joy at all times. Keep on with your prayers. In everything give praise: for this is the purpose of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This scripture wass often read by his family, but it had never caused any thoughts in his heart. At that time, he was cold hearted and did not know what gratitude was.
He witnessed with self-mockery, "I used to be foolish and arrogant, and stayed away from the embrace of grace. Like many other children born into Christian families, I grew up in the care of the church and brothers and sisters. When I entered the church as a child, many elders would enthusiastically send kind greetings to me, a child Christian. Several kind grandmothers never forgot to stuff some candy snacks into my trouser pocket. Without the appreciation of the happy life, I thought I deserved this love. Benefiting from my preacher father who has good relationships, I never cherished this precious grace. Entering my rebellious phase, I began to deny and doubt everything. ‘If it weren't for my father, I'm afraid no one in the church knew me!’”
He continued, "At that time, I began to make such assumptions about the brothers and sisters. Driven by ignorance, I gradually developed a rebellious ‘sense of alienation’ from the church that my family loved. As I grew up, I gradually had less expectation and freshness of the church, and ‘going to church’ was like ‘going to jail’ in my mind."
"In this way, I had had the opportunity to enjoy more grace of the Lord in the church, but I was driven by the devil Satan and isolated from it with an unprovoked and childish assumption. Although my family's edification left me no doubt about my faith, I had never received the truth once.As I entered the college and began to work, I gradually followed my own inclination in the secular world, and closed my heart in trial and frustration. I became more negative and dull. Even though I had a hard and rebellious heart, the Lord who is full of love and compassion had never forsaken me. I never thought that I could feel the family-like care and warmth in the church far away from my hometown, which turned over my life."
"In the subsequent study, the pastors and church co-workers supported and trusted me to be the monitor of the investigator class. Every day, I lead them to study the Bible together, and after the class every week, the pastor of the church would keep me stay to share my faith and witness, and never forget to inquire after my well-being. Today, when I look back on my life-turning experience, I find there are so many people and things that I need to be grateful for," Brother MY added.
- Translated by Oliver Zuo