Herein lies my true story of how I found God in Jesus Christ.
I'm still working on it, so it'll be incomplete. Do check back for updates!
It was near Christmas time in the year 1992. I was invited to help out in singing for a Christmas event by my then Victoria School Choir chairman, Victor, in Wesley Methodist Church. There was a testimony/sharing, I was touched by it, there was an altar call, I said the sinner's prayer, and voila! I considered myself a Christian. Till today, I can't remember what the testimony was all about.
Since Victor was in the Singapore Youth For Christ (SYFC) , I naturally went for Foundation Classes in SYFC. The people were kind, and I thought I got a good grounding in Christian fundamentals there. I still remember going to a kindergarten in Kim Keat and sitting down in those small chairs and studying at a small table. Instrumental in my Christian upbringing then was Mr Michael Yong and Dr Hoon Hian Teck. I then helped out in SYFC in the Serangoon region as a secondary school helper, going down to events. I then moved on to the Junior College ministry when I myself went to Nanyang Junior College, as they lack manpower there. I suppose I learnt quite a lot there. I remember going to the office then at the Singapore Bible House in Fort Canning for training.
I was challenged as a Christian in 1993 by an enthusiastic Muslim friend of mine, who then was just back from his Haj in Mecca. He passed me some material by a famous Muslim scholar, Ahmad Deedat. I guess I was pretty disillusioned by his books, and they can be pretty convincing for a shallow and immature faith, which was what I had then. Islam then became rather attractive as a religion to me, and I was seriously contemplating to join it. I was really on the verge of going down to the Islamic Centre of Singapore (which is located near my place) to enquire about the conversion process.
Then came my subscription for Our Daily Bread, a popular Christian devotional produced by Radio Bible Class . Together with that issue, I also received a booklet called "Do Christians believe in Three Gods?" I guess the booklet simply cleared up all the doubts I had about Christianity. From this point onwards, I was interested in Christian apologetics, and began reading up on books by Josh McDowell, a popular Christian apologist. I also deepened my conviction by reading many other apologetic books.
I began attending Novenas at Novena Church some time in 1993, under the influence of my father, who also starting attending a short while before. The sessions were pretty intriguing, as I saw lots of people praying real hard, close to 2000 per session sometimes, even in the hot and humid weather of ours. There were also interesting testimonies of people who had their petitions answered, and Thanksgiving letters sometimes started with "this letter is long overdue..." and ending with "Your non-Catholic son/daughter". The sessions last for half an hour, beginning at the stroke of every hour starting from 8am till 7pm. They take a lunch break at 12pm and the 3pm session is in Mandarin. I usually go there in the evenings as it wouldn't be so hot and sunny.
Soon after, I joined the Novena Church youth group, Vine and Branches (V&B). I spent close to 7 years in this group, seeing it in its 'highs and lows'. I had lots of fun being there, and learnt quite a few things about relationships and stuff. Sad to say, there wasn't really a 'push' from the group for me to become Catholic. In fact, most of them assumed that I was Catholic.
I got to know quite a lot of good and committed young Catholics there, together with the usual 'bo-chup' types. The turn-over is extremely high, so many people walk in and out of the group very often. But there are many benefits of being in the group, 'coz it being the Novena youth group, e.g., we have priority when it comes to seating arrangement at the annual Procession. Responsibilities come with the privileges too, as we had to organise lots of events in Novena Church, like the family Masses (Exam, Chinese New Year, etc).
The initiative to take a concrete step towards the Catholic faith came from my mother, who by this time was also attending Novenas. She talked us (me and my Dad) into signing up for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) at the Church of the Risen Christ. I thought over it carefully, and decided to take up the offer. It was probably because I wanted to stick to one church, and not 'church-hop', which a lot of Protestants are doing. And also to figure out what the Catholic Church was all about. As I only had access to Christian resources through Protestant bookstores, I went to one popular retail Protestant chain bookstore and bought whatever books they had on Catholicism. One of the books I bought was "Protestants and Catholics: Do They Now Agree?" by John Ankerberg and John Weldon. This book was full of lies and false accusations leveled at the Catholic Church, even though it superficially attempts to analyse the 'Evangelicals and Catholics Together' (ECT) document. I swung to become anti-Catholic consequently, and began to question the Catholics I know about their practices of 'worshipping statues', 'praying to Mary' and the like. No one from V&B or RCIA could answer me satisfactorily, being the 'average ignorant Catholics', so I was smug in my knowing that 'I was right since no Catholics could prove me wrong'. This is probably also the attitude of a lot of Protestants anyway. Eventually, I also started 'questioning' Fr Francis Lee, Spiritual Director of the RCIA I was attending. He was more of a pastor than a theologian, so I wasn't satisfied with his answers too.
A step in the right direction came from my godparents-to-be, Christopher and Rose Chee. They also bore the brunt of my 'attacks' cordially, and thus challenged me to find out what the Catholic Church had to say for itself. I thought, "fair deal", so I went over to the Singapore Pastoral Institute to borrow the book that was to change my life forever, 'Catholicism and Fundamentalism' by Karl Keating.
All the anti-Catholic Protestant accusations leveled at the Catholic Church came crumbling in the light of Her Truth and Beauty, as revealed to me through the book. It was like encountering the Lord Himself. I broke down several times while reading it, as I felt so ashamed persecuting our Holy Mother Church, the one and only Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a moment of God's grace when I resolved to myself to cling on to the our Lord and His Body, the truly one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. It was with trembling anticipation that I looked forward to my Baptism into His Body, which finally came on the 27th of September 1997.