My dear brothers and sisters, it is a tremendous honour and privilege to be able to share my testimony of what Christ has done in my life. I must say that my testimony is not a perfect one. I have not arrived by any means but can say that by the grace of God I am who I am today. And standing before you is one who is still hurting and broken in many ways, but persevering through the fire until I can see my Master’s reflection in the gold He is producing within me.
It has been 7 years that I have walked with Christ. And these 7 years have been less than pleasant. I started off my Christianity with preachers like Paul Washer, John Piper, John MacArthur, A.W. Tozer, David Wilkerson, and Leonard Ravenhill. These were fiery men of God, and they influenced my walk in a profound way. However, though as fiery as they may be, I kept trying to live up to what they said in their sermons in my own strength. In other words, I turned their messages into legalism. Often I questioned my salvation and even went through a season where I thought God hated me and rejected me. Whenever I sinned so horribly or had burned bridges with someone, I often would think that I am an Esau, not a Jacob, because in the Bible God said, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Another form of rejection I had faced was my parents persecuted me for my newfound faith. Both my father and mother screamed at me at the dinner table multiple times. My father said to me, "If you go to school and you get a good job in the future, you're a good son to me. But, if you are going to church and getting baptized, you are not a good son to me!"
Rejection has been a big part of my life. Whether it would be friends joking at my expense, being bullied, or every single girl rejecting me on the junior high dance floor. I felt unlovable, or perhaps some freak of nature. And still to this day, it manifests itself in me trying to be impressive to other people because I do not really love myself for who God made me to be. Sometimes I come off more spiritual than I actually am and quoting Bible verses off the top of my head to look impressive.
But recently, through my Sister Mirelli’s help – she saw through me. I mean one night I laid on my bed after watching a John Piper sermon and I cried out to God, “God, do I know you?” 5 minutes later, Mirelli texted me out of nowhere and said, “Something’s bugging me.” And my usual response is, “Am I in trouble?” We talked over the phone and Mirelli asked me the same question, “Do you know God?” I said, “Barely. I have had experiences with God, but I have many doubts.” She said, “Mikey, it’s OK. We’re all on a journey to know God. But, you don’t need to hide behind your knowledge because of the insecurities within you.” Mirelli has a way of dropping truth bombs on me in such a loving way. I always say that she goes Defcon-1 on me Jesus style! By God’s grace, she encouraged me to take the lower seat and to learn from others. To stay quiet. Few weeks later, again Mirelli texted me and said, “Something’s bugging me.” And I was like, “Oh Lord….what did I do this time.” We talked again and she was pressuring me to come to C3 one Sunday. I went that Sunday, and it was a Baptism of the Holy Spirit service. Pastor Sam asked, “Whoever wants to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, come to the front.” I ran to the front and got on my knees. Pastor Sam began laying hands on people, and then he laid his hands on me. Three seconds later I felt my back and shoulders go on fire. I was like “HOT!!! HOT!!! HOT!!!!” It was like a game of hot potato when we were kids; only this time I was God’s potato.
After that experience, I got really hungry for God. I started to play worship music on my TV every time I came home from work. I would read my Bible, specifically in Psalm 139:13-14, “You formed me in my inward parts and you knitted me in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well.” I mused over that passage and the Lord spoke into my heart, “You are beautiful.” I wept. I wept because He was melting my heart. But I also wept because it was so hard to believe. God called me beautiful. And for the first week and a half, I didn’t touch pornography. I did fall few days ago, but now I know the weapons against this sin – worship and “pray-reading” the Word in order to be satisfied in Christ.
I still am on this journey. I still falter on so many different levels. I still have a misplaced identity that needs to be fixed. But, I can only say that Christ is gracious to me in every step of the way. “God loves you as you are, and not as you should be. Because none of us are as we should be.” –Brennan Manning. It’s not about me trying to be like Jesus, it is Jesus being Himself in me! (Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:27, 1 John 4:4)
May God bless you all,
- Michael Barnabas Hoy-Kuen Liao