Grace that Changes Everything

Date: 20 Oct 2019     /     By Elvina Parlindungan     /     Type: Testimony;

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Miracle to Believe

I used to dislike ‘Christians’. I used to think that those people who claim themselves as ‘Christians’ only speak much about God, yet their actions are not even better than those who do not believe in God. I grew up surrounded by these kinds of Christians which made me think that I would never commit myself to a Christian church, not even joining the cell group. However, everything changed somehow, since 2013. I was invited to Bethany International Church, and the first sermon that I heard was about Grace, about Jesus, preached by Ps. Daniel Prajogo. It was the first time I listened to a sermon that sounded so logical and making much sense. I also started to get curious about this concept of grace and was amazed by Jesus' character - filled with self-sacrificing love.

I occasionally attended the church and thereafter I experienced a heartbreak, which I think was the turning point. I used to be so independent, self-ambitious with my dreams and many goals to achieve, but I realised all these were all fleeting, as I struggled to forgive and heal. There I knew, I was helpless and weak, and I knew I needed a Saviour. I was grateful that someone gave me a book: Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. This book summarises the overall overview of Christianity and I was truly blessed by it. I sprinted myself reading this book and finished the whole thing within a week. Straight after, I cried in my room and I prayed and gave my life to Jesus. It was a miraculous encounter, the start of a new journey with and in Christ.

Joining COOL Bethel

After this encounter, I found a new purpose: I want to know more about Jesus, my Saviour, and I want to live a purposeful life as a follower of Christ. In Purpose Driven Life, it mentions that God desires us to grow and live in a community and it also states that humans are social beings. This book changed my perspective and I truly think this was a miracle too, as I was more of an introverted type, I felt so energized and happy just being alone, I was not good at socialising and I used to hate all kinds of potential conflicts that might occur in a community. I also thought that joining a community was such a waste of time and a hindrance to achieving my own selfish ambitions. Joining and committing myself to the community was a significant step for me, a step of faith indeed.

At the beginning of 2014, I joined Bethel and here I learned more about God. Looking back, I could not read/open the Bible properly (it took me quite a time just to find the right book, chapter, and verse); I had difficult times understanding things during the sermon which made me work so hard and I sprinted through lists of sermons online (mainly John Piper’s, one of my favourite preachers) and many books to have a better understanding about the concept of Christianity (I think I devour more than 5 books in that year, and those books were written by Tim Keller and Jerry Bridges; Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller is still my all-time favourite now). I was one of the youngest in my COOL and lots of older sisters in Bethel helped me to answer my curiosity and questions about the Bible. I felt cared for by my family in Christ in Bethel, which made me feel belonged.

Shortly after God started giving me compassion and desires for souls and others in a way that I have never felt before. Someone as selfish as myself who used to think of my own well-being, started to care about the well-being of others: another miracle happened. I started ministering in COOL - God gave me the privilege and opportunity to grow even further and learn to depend on Him more, through serving others. Being part of Bethel feels like my battle training ground. Here I learn how to love and forgive the unlovable, solve conflict healthily, learn to trust one another and share each other's burden, communicate wisely, lead and make decision based on what God says in the Bible (not based on what I myself think is right). God strengthens and He sustains! I am utterly joyful whenever anyone in my COOL wants to learn more about the truth and experience Christ more in their life.

Restored Relationship

I gain so much from joining the community and this transcends to other aspects of my life too outside Bethel. My younger brother and I used to have a salty relationship, but God restores our relationship and we become each other’s best friend now. Never did I imagine myself saying sorry first to him, being patience and gentle, learning to accept and love him. My brother even said my changes were so drastic that he felt quite awkward at first. God transformed me in a way that I cannot fathom. All glory, honour, and praise truly belong to Him. Where would I be now if not because of God's mercy and grace? Just like chasing after the wind – chasing worldly, temporary, selfish ambitions that would not last forever, and I would have missed out on a lot of great things in life, like being a part of a loving community and a restored relationship with my younger brother. Most importantly, I would have missed out this privilege of knowing and tasting God’s goodness and love in my life.

What’s Next

Even until now, I feel there are many things I still do not know about my Saviour and it will be an endless learning process until I can meet Him face-to-face. Being a part of Bethel is one of the greatest blessings that God gives to me, also a place for me to know more about God. I used to be one of the youngest in Bethel, and now after 5 years passed I am considered one of the oldest. I always treasure every single soul that God entrusted in Bethel and can only ask God’s mercy and hope in Him that the souls will be deeply rooted in Christ. Just like how I felt much cared for and loved when I first joined Bethel, I pray and hope the new souls that God sends to Bethel could feel the same way like I do and could grow to know the truth and experience Christ deeper. Just like 1 Corinthians 3:5-11 says – we as God’s entrusted servants can plant and water souls, but only God who gives the growth.

 

"What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

 

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