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Growing up, I was a happy go lucky kid. I was invited by my aunt to Impact Kids when I was 8 years old and even accepted Christ when I was 11. However, I never really knew what accepting Jesus into my life meant, and only did it because the people around me were also doing it and didn’t want to feel left out.

When I was 12, I found out that my dad had been gambling, and owed loan sharks a lot of money. This crushed me and I felt a huge sense of shame and disappointment towards my family. I still remember how traumatized I was when I walked home to my house door splashed with paint. This overwhelming sense of shame was in me throughout the next few years and I chose to isolate myself. I feared being judged if people found out about my financial status. Because of that fear, I would choose to lie to my friends about my financial situation, just to fit in. Money became something I valued a lot, and I needed to grab hold of it as much as I could.

Even in church, I wasn’t open to my Lifegroup, and I dreaded attending service and Lifegroup weekly. However, I still went and pretended to be okay because I didn’t want people to think that something was wrong about me. This fear of judgement caused me to be afraid of showing the lifegroup my true self, and the fact that I was already struggling deeply with pornography and sexual sin made that shame in me even stronger.

Question like “if God is so loving, why would He allow my family to go through this, while other families seemed to be so much wealthier and happier together.” was always on my mind. I felt that God was so unfair. Life carried on as per usual over the next few years. I went for church camps, mission trips and even got baptised. However, none of this changed me significantly, because my heart was never right with God.

Throughout secondary school, I got bullied and ostracized by others because of my shy and introverted personality. This got so bad at one point in secondary 3, it made me believe that there was no one who truly cares about me, not even my lifegroup. Even though they did check up on me, I felt that they only did it out of obligation. As a result, I wanted to change the way I look. By changing the way I look on the outside, at least people would care more about me.

I was just desperate to be loved. This caused me to spend more money on clothing and shoes, and it became a source of motivation for me to go to the gym often. Though many people complimented me for the change in my looks, I surprisingly still felt so empty on the inside. I believed that once I’ve changed the way I look on the outside, people would like me and the brokenness inside of me would be healed but instead, it just left me hungry for even more. I craved people's attention so much more and would try my best to impress others in what I do.

At that time, I was still serving in church and attending church regularly but felt no joy and would always be drained. Doing quiet time and reading the bible seemed forced and I eventually got bored and stopped doing it.

I lied to many people in church about how I was. Week in week out, church simply felt like religion. There was no life in it. The God I was serving wasn’t God, but it was myself. I had no desire to go to church. I only went because there was this tiny tinge of hope in me; that desire to be truly free, the desire for God to turn things around. I was so lost, that I thought I would never get out of this but carry on like this for my entire life. Breakthrough seemed so so far away. However, even though I gave up on myself, God never gave up on me

The turning point came in mid June, when I had to meet my life group leader, Jian Yi because of an urgent matter. I was so devastated when I found out about what happened in my family. For once in my life, I was desperate for God, because I knew only a miracle would change things. I texted jianyi and asked if I could meet him immediately and he said yes

When we met, I shared so honestly to Jian Yi about what happened and how I felt, because I really wanted God to save me and my family. I also started to share about my past and how my family had an incident with loan sharks to Jian Yi, which was the FIRST time I ever shared that to anyone. As I opened up, I felt so uncomfortable but the walls I have been building up in my heart slowly came crashing down.

At that moment, I experienced God’s love through Jian Yi. He just listened to me as I shared so openly. I felt so vulnerable but he reassured me that God loves me and my family, that it breaks God’s heart to see me go through all this. He told me that I haven’t had any joy in my life because I had a lot of unforgiveness towards God and myself. I was so bitter and numb, I couldn’t even see it. He then asked me to make a list of people I needed to forgive. As we prayed together to forgive them, I could feel immense peace and a burden being lifted off each time I forgave someone.

Even though nothing changed dramatically after the meeting with Jian Yi. I could already sense that something had shifted in me on the inside. I felt as if God was beside me, making me understand that I am loved for who I am. This was actually something new to me, despite being in church for over 7 years.

The next day, to my surprise, I actually wanted to read the bible after a long time. I just felt genuinely interested to know more about Jesus, as if I had encountered my first love again. I also lost the desire to go back to lust which was something I felt I will never get out of. I was so trapped in the vicious cycle of lust that every time I got tempted, I would just give in because I was so numb to it. However, after coming clean about my struggles with Jian Yi and forgiving people in my life, I finally tasted a freedom like never before.

Going to church every week started to become something I do out of passion now, and I started to open up a lot more to my lifegroup about the struggles I face. I really thank God for placing me in my life group MTC4 and for all the people who had invested their time in my life

as I began to be transparent to others, I can see myself having more genuine relationships with my life group.

Through it all, I am really thankful to God for not giving up on me. I would like to share a verse which I really held on to during a very tough period of my life.

Proverbs 24:16 says

“For the lovers of God may suffer adversity and stumble seven times, but they will continue to rise over and over again. But the unrighteous are brought down by just one calamity and will never be able to rise again.”

To those who feel so stuck and trapped in sin, I want to encourage you to continue to hold on to God’s promises, because He has ALREADY made a way out for you. We may still fall to sin but what separates us Christians from the rest is our attitude towards it; knowing that we can rise up once again to fight it, because we have a perfect and all loving Father, who is willing to be here with us

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