I recently received membership at my church at GracePoint and as a way to commemorate this rather special occasion, I’ve decided to share my testimony to show you what God has been doing in my life.
I’ve broken down this testimony into 6 defining moments (or 6 episodes) of how I came to faith, structuring my story in a way that incrementally shows God’s grace working in a deluded and broken soul and restoring him to new life. And we can trace the evidences of God’s grace way back to when I came into the world.
Episode 1: The Birth of John Le
Born on 15th October 1993, being the firstborn in our family, I was raised in a Christian household – my father works as a full-time pastor (and still is serving the Lord in this way for 18 years now) and my mother has spent the majority of her years at home raising three children. My late grandfather was also a pastor, and many of his sons also went on to become church planters, pastors and evangelists.
So it is safe to assume that from the time I was born, I was planted in gospel soil that was nutritiously rich in Scriptural teaching. My mother would sit both my sister Gloria and I with her to read the Bible with her and do our devotions together every night for many years from our childhood into our adolescence. There was never a time that I did not know the existence of God in my life and I had strong biblical foundations that were drilled into me at a very young age.
Episode 2: Early Childhood to the End of my High School Career
However, these gospel truths were never impressed into my heart. It didn’t necessarily help the fact, as I was growing into adolescence, that our household was governed by legalism and so our family was often devoid of grace. As I reflect on my childhood and my young teenage years, I vividly remember the overbearing expectations that my family and my congregation had placed upon my shoulders; that I was to achieve exceptionally-good marks and that I would also uphold a high moral standing within the family and close network of relationships that I was a part in. My mother would constantly tell me: “You better behave yourself and not do anything stupid, so that Dad won’t lose his job, you got it?” (although she tried, that never stopped me from doing many stupid things in my life).
These expectations were heavy and I began to develop a hatred what my father did for a living, hated the people at the church my dad was pastoring at, and wanted to live as freely as I could, without any restraint. I wanted to live the way that I felt was best for me and by the time I graduated from high school heading into university, I decided that I no longer wanted to go to church anymore.
Episode 3: My First Bible Study with CBS in my First Year of University
My time at university was a fascinating season for me. If you thought you had a bit of a loser’s run in high school, where you weren’t able to make many friends, or you weren’t able to freely explore what you love doing or make a name for yourself, university was that time for you to go and discover yourself!
During this time, my father was very concerned about my spiritual well-being and he knew I was only inches from slipping away from the faith, and so he encouraged me to join a Christian bible study on campus. I was very reluctant at the suggestion at first, but then I warmed up to it, telling him that I’d join a bible study just to make him happy. But little did he know that I only decided to join a bible study, because the week before at O-Week I saw some pretty cute girls at the Christian booth and was hoping they would be there in that bible study when I signed up.
And so I signed up to this co-ed bible study and to my horror, on that first week of bible study there was no one there I was interested in and the bible study was very boring! To make matters worse, since the group was so huge they decided to split the bible study group into boys and girls! So it was time to bail! I left that bible study and didn’t attend another one for a long while after.
Episode 4: Chasing after Transient Pleasures
During that time afterwards, I lived however I pleased in search of chasing after the greatest pleasures life had to offer. I was skipping all my classes to hang with mates, going to fun parties and events, hollering at the ladies, jumping into relationship after relationship.
But no matter who I was going out with, the initial lovey-dovey honeymoon sensations would always dissipate and the hole in my heart was never filled. I would pour hours and hours into gym-training and meal-prepping to build my dream physique, but no matter how much I trained or how much my body changed I was never happy with how I looked. I’ve joined numerous clubs and societies on campus and got into many hobbies, but after a little while all these pastime activities grew stale. The search for meaning grew more futile and I gradually grew more cynical about the world and what it had to offer.
Episode 5: Going back to Campus Bible Study
Soon after that, I bought heavily on the philosophical view of existential nihilism – the viewpoint that rejects the idea that life has any objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. To me, it seemed to describe perfectly my own perceptions of a world full of broken promises and that had nothing lasting to offer. And soon after that, my mental health took a turn for the worst. It was extremely difficult to get out of bed, energy levels sank to a new low, my body was numb and everything I ate tasted bland. Life began to lose its colour.
During these dark times nearing the end of my second year at uni, a friend of mine (Martin Fong) invited me to attend his bible study. I was reluctant to go, but I didn’t have anything to lose at this point. So I went and attended this bible study, and slowly during the 10 months that I was learning from Scripture together with others, I began to understand the joys only Christians had access to – Christian fellowship.
Episode 6: My conversion to the Christian Faith
Even though I didn’t want to commit, God was already at work in my heart as many of my new Christian friends continued to encourage me and prayed for my conversion (and that I would break up with my non-Christian girlfriend that I was dating at the time). And during this time, God spoke to me in a profoundly spiritual manner.
On a particular Friday, I was sitting on the bus on my way to UNSW and the bus always takes a designated route, where it passes by an Anglican church at the corner of the intersection. And I so happened to get a quick glance of the message displayed on the wayside pulpit – it was from Matthew 11:28-29,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
I didn’t make much of this verse… until I got back home to do my regular devotions and found that on that same night, as I flicked through to read the passage for the day… it was also from Matthew 11, the same verse. I was a bit creeped out and I starting thinking more what it meant… But I still didn’t really understand it. So since I didn’t get it, God had plans for me to hear an exposition on Matthew 11 on the following Sunday when my dad preached on that same passage.
I exhausted all my options of running away from God. He spoke to my soul that the search for meaning and identity is over, for I can now rest in Christ, who gives life to all who rest on Him and on His saving work on the cross. It is ironic to know that the final destination of my pilgrimage was only a few steps away from my closest bookshelf. The secret to everlasting joy and fulfilment was found within an arm’s reach of the nearest Bible I had. I was chasing after fleeting joys, but I was chased and caught by the hands of the Saviour, who is the source of all everlasting joy.
To be continued?
I gave my life to Christ shortly after that sermon. I broke up with my non-Christian girlfriend at the time to seal the deal with my commitment to Christ.
So has anything changed for me after 5 years of living as a Christian? Well perhaps one thing that has certainly not changed after all these years is that I’m still single as a pringle (but nevertheless am very happy and not very sappy).
Jokes aside, one of the most interesting developments in my heart desires is that the one occupation I would have never dreamt of pursuing is now the one occupation that I cannot imagine not pursuing – to serve God in full-time ministry. And I’m more than happy to share with you the same joys that I’ve experienced in my conversion and in my life right now. If you are someone who is still searching for meaning and to fill the longings of your heart, Christ says you can rest from your journey by resting on his promises and he can quench your deepest desires.