My best friend was a Christian. A kind-hearted Christian Chinese girl. Somehow I was always welcomed in all my friends’ homes, and hers was exceptionally welcoming. And at age 14, I thought being a Christian was glamorous. It sounded better than being called a Tao or a Buddhist, anyway.
So when two of my close friends started to preach to me about Christianity, I was ready to be influenced. It wasn’t difficult to like the thought of being a Christian – I was already studying in a Convent school where nuns still commanded respects, read English books about Christian homes, and all my Chinese friends have chosen our own English names although not everyone was a Christian. We all thought it was fun to have English names. So being a Christian sounded like the most logical step at that time. There were Chinese Buddhists and Chinese Christians. A Chinese Muslim was almost non-existent during those days, at least in my world-view. So I listened as they told me about Jesus, the Saviour, and Trinity, and the uselessness of praying to manmade idols. Of course, not being taught about the Tao and Buddhist beliefs also made me vulnerable to such influences.
Conversion into Christianity was simple. I’m still amazed at how prepared both my friends were in converting me. They were ready; they must have had planned it all along for days with their pastor’s guidance. Anyway, all I had to do was to bow my head and repeat some lines after them, among them to accept Jesus as my Saviour. Of course, I was told that all my sins were forgiven. No need to go to church for confirmation, no need to sign any documents, no need to even note down my name at any church registration. Well, at least I was spared from all that. That’s how simple it was to be a Christian. Of course, I was only fourteen. It had happened to me, it could happen to any naïve child.
Naturally, I was invited to church. The church’s van would fetch me on Saturday mornings for Bible class. My mother knew but she didn’t oppose. Looking back, it was strange how my father seemed to be oblivious to my ‘disobedience’. He was never at home when the van arrived. The following year, I went to another church, and attended the weekly assembly for teens. It was clean fun; we sang songs, talked and shared stories. I even joined them for two excursions, all expenses paid for by the church. My mother signed the permission forms knowing that she couldnt afford take me to those places with her meagre salary, while my father thought I went on school trips.
Even then, I was already bold. I fear nobody but God. Problem was, I didn't know where God was. As I attended different churches and their services, I started to have doubts about Christianity. I wondered why they have so many churches and different ways of praying. Why they still have statues of Mary at Catholic churches. Why some have unmarried priests and confessions, while others have pastors with families. Why Christians from different churches don't agree on a way to pray to the same God. It was a nagging thought that delayed my baptism for years.
How did I live my secret life as a Christian in a family of Buddhists? It was easy, because I didn’t look any different. I ate the same food, wear the same type of clothes, and behave quite in the same way. Only difference was, I just went through the motion when asked to pray to the family altar, without actually praying. Then before I sleep, I’d pray the ‘Christian way’ and read the bible that my friend gave me. And yes, I read the whole bible twice. It was the Good News Bible, in English.
I lived life as a Christian until I attended college. Then my life took a different path. Before I could get myself baptised, I met someone who was to change my life, gave me happiness as well as great pain. Because of him, I ‘sort of’abandoned Christianity at the age of twenty.