Saturday, June 18, 2011

神的慈绳爱索

我在文莱的一个宁静市镇马来奕(Kuala Belait)长大。它就位于文莱和马来西亚的边境,只要穿过两道桥,我们就能到达位于东马沙捞越的美里城(Miri City)。由于马来奕镇里没有什么好去处,所以每逢周末,许多人一早就会开车到东马的美里去购物,到处逛逛。之后在移民关卡门之前,再赶回马来奕镇。这就是我们马来奕镇人的生活。

我家里有六个人,爸爸妈妈和我们四个兄弟姐妹。妈妈是第一个接受主耶稣为她个人救主的。虽然爸爸还未信主,但他没有反对妈妈带着我和弟妹们去教会。我自七岁就开始参加主日学,到了大概十二岁的时候,我的主日学老师带我进入一个房间,详细地把福音讲给我听。她问我是否愿意接受主耶稣为我个人的救主。当时,我不知道其中的意义,所以没有答应她。一年后,她又带我到同样的房间,再次跟我传讲救恩信息。这次我明白了,也真的知道自己是一个需要救主的罪人,所以我认真地与老师一起祷告,求耶稣进入我的生命中来赦免我一切的罪。虽然我十三岁就在人前称自己是基督徒,但我并不认真地看待我的信仰,继续和其他同龄的孩子一样的过着以自我为中心的生活,在家里还常欺负两个弟弟(当时妹妹还没出世)。

我虽然不喜欢上学,但还是听爸爸妈妈的话天天到学校去,只是一踏进学校,我就不想回家。我发现生活很单调,也不知道我存在的意义是什么。我曾经这样的发怨言:「我为什么必须天天回到这个同样的家?」另一件困扰我的事情是我的身体状况。我自出生以来,就被诊断出患有先天性甲状腺功能不足症(congenital hypothyroidism),所以我终生都得天天吃药。此外,我也必须定期去看医生,并作抽血检查。我羡慕两个弟弟能免受这些烦恼琐事,在我的心中又时常充满愤恨和妒嫉,所以就开始欺负他们,特别是我的孪生弟弟敦义,因为他的学业成绩比我的好。

一九九九年敦义获颁奖学金,能到新加坡名列前三十名的中学之一就读。不久后,爸爸为了让我来陪敦义,也把我送到新加坡来读书。但我只能进入一间离敦义学校不远的邻里学校,因为不能通过智商测试,所以不能和敦义在一样的学校就读。当时我非常自卑,觉得比不上他。

来到新加坡念书是我们懂事以来第一次离开家园和亲人。对我们来说,这确实不容易,因为我们非常想家和家人。虽然我们有彼此为伴,同住在碧山的寄宿学校里,但仍感到孤单,甚至有一种被家人遗弃的感觉。我很怀念那里自己的房间,想念婆婆所煮的饭,想念爸爸妈妈,弟弟和妹妹。以前我都把这些当作理所当然。当时我真的想收回我说过的话:「我为什么必须天天回到这个同样的家?」每次想家的时候,总是不断地流泪。与家人分离确实是让我伤心难熬。

在新加坡这里是由福利老师带领我们到芽笼的基督渔人团契聚会。每个星期天早上,我们得搭地铁,从碧山到政府大厦转换站,再转搭地铁到附近的阿裕尼站。渐渐地,我们厌烦了这样的路程,再加上我们失去了追求的心,惰性便开始作祟。若在星期天早上与朋友安排了活动,我们就不去教会敬拜神。最后,我们甚至停止了聚会,且竟长达半年之久!

我们的主日学老师是Anson老师(他已经回天家了),那时他每个星期六晚上都打电话提醒我们要去聚会,他还问我们有没有什么祷告事项需要他代祷。他坚持不懈每个星期六都这么做,让我们觉得很厌烦。于是,我们就找了一个朋友代接电话,骗老师说我们已经出门了!

在我们停止聚会的这半年里,星期天早上我们不是睡到很迟,就是在浪费时间。当时,我虽然很活跃地和朋友参加各种活动,但却有愧疚感,也仍觉得孤独;缺少了自律,也没有读书的动力。现在回想起来,那段日子真是我生命的低潮期,是我所遭遇过最糟糕的日子。想到再过六个月的时间就是“O”水准会考,就感到非常地焦虑。想到会考近在眉睫,我的心脏就跳得很快,我非常恐惧英语考试不及格,因那是我最弱的科目!

大家都说双胞胎有心灵感应,我虽然不知道,但敦义在那个时候也和我有着同样的烦恼和恐惧。不知怎的,我们两个同时都觉得不要再让朋友帮我们去欺骗主日学老师,于是我们决定自己接听老师的电话。经过这长久的时间,我们终于又在电话里听到老师的声音。我们坦白地告诉他,我们不想去教会,也要求他不要再打电话给我们,因为那些电话在我们心里造成了愧疚,加上我们在过去六个月一直都在撒谎骗他!

感谢神,祂满有怜悯,并没有放弃我们,因为祂的爱不放松我们!主日学老师继续通过电话,用神的话来鼓励我,让我意识到我不应该停止聚会。我自称是基督徒,却这个样子,成为弟弟敦义的绊脚石,因他当时还没有信主。我知道了神是我们的力量,我们应该寻求神的能力来克服自己的恐惧和懒惰。

我们终于听了老师的话,决定第二天就回到教会。当晚我们祷告祈求神的原谅。从那时起,我就不再觉得愧疚,反而是满有喜乐,好像从监狱中获得释放一样。我们星期天早上便回去教会,老师也用神的话语继续勉励我们。

不久后,弟弟的心被神感动,并接受主耶稣基督为他个人的救主。从那时起,我们一起学习祷告,把考试的需要交托给神。感谢神,虽然考试一步步的逼近,我已不再心跳加速,心脏无力。当我回想过去,我看到神在我生命中的带领――与其把我放在我理想中成绩名列前茅的学校,倒不如按我的能力把我安排在一间邻里学校就读,以免我压力太重。祂比我更清楚我的能力,因为祂是万物的主宰!我回顾我的一生,看到一切都在神的计划当中:祂引领我和敦义来到新加坡,离开马来奕镇,离开家人,好让我们的灵命有长进,学习在困境中依靠神。之前我把一切当作理所当然,但如今我非常珍惜每一次回马来奕镇度假与家人相聚的日子。

这些年来,神已改变了我的心。我愿意让神在我心中居首位,不再是单单脑海里头的知识。我生活的许多方面也已经改变,特别是对家人的态度。我不再怨恨弟弟们,也不再嫉妒成绩比我好的敦义,因这一切都要过去,而只有主耶稣基督在我的生命里才是最重要的。正如使徒保罗在腓立比书一章二十一节说:「因我活着就是基督,我死了就有益处。」感谢神,让我经历了这一切,引我归正路。每当我不想参加主日敬拜的时候,我感谢神借着圣灵在我心中警戒我。我祷告求主继续让我能顺服主的引导,帮助我一生都按照祂的旨意来行。
This is a chinese version of my previous post.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

His love will not let me go

This is my personal testimony. I would like to thank the FCF Fishers editorial board help me to edit it.

I grew up in a quiet town called Kuala Belait (KB) in Brunei, situated near the Brunei-Malaysia border. By just crossing two bridges we can easily reach the town of Miri in Sarawak, East Malaysia. Since KB is a quiet town without any major attractions, on weekends many people will drive across the border to Miri in the morning to shop and to visit places of interest and then rush back to KB just before the immigration stations close. That’s basically what life is like in our sleepy town of KB!

In my family of six, my mother was the first to receive Jesus as her personal Saviour. Though my dad is still outside the kingdom of God, he did not object to my mother bringing me, my twin brother Tung Ngie, our younger brother and sister, Tung Lieng and Tung Ci to church. I attended Sunday school since I was 7 years old and when I was about 12 years old, one day my Sunday school teacher took me into a room and explained the gospel to me in detail. She asked me if I wanted to receive Jesus as my Saviour as I was not sure what becoming a Christian entailed so I did not give her a positive answer. One year later, she again took me into the same room and spoke to me about my salvation this time I really felt that I was a sinner in need of a Saviour so I prayed with her earnestly to ask Jesus to come into my life and to forgive me of all my sins. Though I claimed to be a Christian when I was 13 years old but I was not very serious about my faith and continued to live a self-centred life as any naughty boy did and even bullied my brothers at home.

Though I disliked going to school, I attended it regularly in obedience to my parents and once I stepped into school, I had no desire to go home. I found life very monotonous and I did not know the true meaning of my existence. I remembered saying this about my home, “Why must I come back to this same old home each day?” Another thing that bothered me a lot was my medical condition. I was diagnosed to have congenital hypothyroidism (deficiency of the hormone thyroxine) since I was born and I have to take medication every morning for life. On top of that I also have to go for blood tests and visit the doctors regularly. I envied my brothers who were spared all these agonies. As a result, I resorted to bullying them out of hatred, frustration and jealousy, especially towards my twin brother Tung Ngie who did much better than I academically.

In 1999, Tung Ngie received a scholarship to study in one of the ‘top 30’ secondary schools in Singapore. And not long after that, my father sent me to Singapore to study with the intention that I might keep Tung Ngie company. I was only able to gain entry into a neighbourhood school near Tung Ngie’s school because I failed the IQ test which was required for admission into his school. I felt very inferior compared to him.

Coming to Singapore to study was our first experience of leaving home and family as teenagers. It was a difficult time for us as we felt homesick and really missed our loved ones. Although we had each other, staying in the same boarding school in Bishan, we were lonely and even felt abandoned by our family. I missed my own room, my grandma’s delicious cooking, my parents, and younger brother and sister; all these I had taken for granted when I was in KB. At that time I really wanted to take back my words “Why must I come back to the same old home each day?” Tears just rolled down my cheeks each time I remembered my home. It was indeed a sad and difficult time for me being away from my family.

While in Singapore, we attended the ‘Fisherman of Christ’ Fellowship at Geylang. Each Sunday morning we had to take a train from Bishan to City Hall interchange and then change to another train to Aljunied station near the church. Soon we felt that the journey was too tiresome for us and without motivation, our laziness overtook us and we began to skip Sunday worship whenever we could arrange activities with our friends on Sunday mornings. Eventually we stopped going to church altogether for more than half a year!

Our Sunday school teacher would call us on Saturday evenings to remind us to go to church on Sunday and even ask for our prayer needs. He persistently did that each Saturday to our annoyance, so we asked our friends to take the calls on our behalf and to lie to him that we were out!

During that half year we skipped church, we would sleep in late on Sunday mornings and basically just waste away our time. At that time, I did have a sense of remorse and loneliness, even though I was busy participating in activities with my friends. I felt a lack of self-control and did not have the motivation to study. On hindsight, that period was a low point of my life and the worst experience I ever had. My anxiety was heightened when I thought of the approaching of GCE O-Level examination which was just less than 6 months away. The very thought caused my heart to pound very fast, and I felt weak with fear worrying that I might fail English Language which was my weakest subject!

It had been said that twins think alike. Without me knowing, Tung Ngie shared the same thoughts and fears that were bothering me at that time. Somehow, we both felt the need to stop asking our friends to help us to lie to our Sunday school teacher, so we resolved to answer his calls ourselves. Yes, after a long half year, we finally heard his voice over the phone. We bravely told him that we didn't want to go to church anymore and asked him to stop calling us. The truth was that his calls had created in us a guilty conscience and a sense of remorse that we had actually lied to him throughout the six months!

I thank God that in His mercy, He had not given up on us because His love will not let us go. He equipped our teacher with His word and through his encouraging words over the phone, I realised how wrong I was to have skipped church though I called myself a Christian and by so doing I had become a stumbling-block to Tung Ngie who was not a believer yet. I should have known that "God is our strength" and should have realised that I could have sought God’s strength to overcome my fear and laziness.

Responding finally to one of our teacher’s many phone calls, Tung Ngie and I decided to go back to church the very next day. We prayed and asked God for forgiveness that Saturday night. From then on, I no longer felt guilty and remorseful, but was filled with joy as if I had been set free from jail. We went to church that Sunday morning and our teacher gave us more encouragement from God’s Word.

Shortly after we went back to church my brother’s heart was opened by the Lord and he too received Christ as his Savior. From then on we learnt to put our trust in God. I thank Him that I no longer felt my heart pounding fast and weak because of the approaching GCE O-Level examinations for I had entrusted all things to God. As I reflected on the past, I realised how the Almighty had in His wisdom, placed me in a neighbourhood school instead of one of the “top 30” schools which I had coveted. He knew my limitations and prevented me from being stressed out. He knew my capability more than I do myself for He is the Lord of all! When I reflected upon my life, I soon realized that all things are in God's plan – He led Tung Ngie and I to Singapore to study, leaving our family and casual life in KB behind so that we may grow spiritually and learn to lean on Him in times of need. I realized that I had taken all things for granted, but now I treasure every trip I take when I go back to KB for holidays.

God has changed my heart throughout the years and I am convicted that I must let God sit on the throne of my heart and not in my head only. Many areas of my life have been changed, especially my attitude towards my family members. I do not bear grudges toward my brothers anymore, and I no longer envy Tung Ngie because of his better academic performance than mine. For all these will come to naught and only the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ matters to me now. As Paul the apostle says in Philippines 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." I really thank God for my life’s experiences and that He brought me back on the right path. I thank God that whenever I am tempted to skip Sunday worship service the Holy Spirit would convict me of my sin and I pray that I will continue to be sensitive to His tender guidance to do His will all my life.

Tang Tung Leh is a member of the ‘Fisherman of Christ’ Fellowship. He was baptised with his twin brother Tung Ngie on 24 May 2009.