I was born into a pagan household in which my father was a devout Buddhist and my mother was agnostic. Everywhere you looked in my house, you would see idols and statues dedicated to a god or goddess that would bring us "peace" and "prosperity". Not knowing much of anything back then, I just bowed down to them as well, and asked them to bless my life.
I wish I could say that my childhood could have been easier, but that was not the case. Between the ages of 6 to 13, I was subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse from someone I knew very well. Because these are obviously, important and formative years in a development of a person, it left me an emotionless, scarred shell for a long time, with little desire to go on with life.
Growing up and being told by this evil person that I was "worthless" and countless other names that I would rather not try to remember was devastating to say the least. Being young, scared and weak and not having the will or the means to fight back was even worse, and even today there are some traces of this "scared little boy" in me.
Because of my father's business, we had to move out to another part of our state which was not as racially mixed as the one I had grown up in (I am a minority in this country). This inevitably led to constant teasing and endless racial discrimination at the hands of mean Middle School boys whom Satan used to destroy me. With the issues I mentioned above, having to deal with hating my racial identity was too much, and I wanted to kill myself more than anything. It got so bad that my parents had to go to the principal's office numerous times to take me out of classes because I could not take the taunting anymore. I remember going home, locking myself in my bedroom and crying. Saying things, like "God, if You really exist, than I don't want any part of knowing You." Alone and hating myself after going thru 3 years of racial strife, my mother had an idea....
There was a Military Academy that was not too far from our home, and was taking new applicants (this is a high school). With my mother's consent, I decided to transfer, just to get out of the "living hell" that I was in during my public school years. Anything was better than what I was going thru, and I became very interested in a lot of aspects about the Academy. Because it was also a Catholic school, I had to take religious training and also had to attend Mass. Watching the other cadets recite things like "Our Father, Who are in Heaven..." and other similar creeds made me very interested in who this Jesus Christ was that they kept referring to.
It took a couple of years of soul searching, but I finally told myself that I was going to read the Bible, and I did. Needless to say, I was falling in love with the stories of David and Jonathan, of Joseph and his brothers, and of course of Jesus. Because I was also learning about the Catholic faith, I had asked someone in leadership in my local parish to sponsor me, so that I could be baptized and confirmed by the Church. He took me under his wing for 3 months and taught me about what he knew about God and how the Catholic Church operates.
When the day came for me to be both baptized and confirmed, I was excited. The Mass lasted only 40 minutes and then it was done. I was now a REAL Catholic! However, on the way out of the church, I kept staring at a woman had just lit a candle in front of a picture of the Virgin Mary, and began to kneel and pray to it. Because I was now reading the Bible on my own, I immediately began to have some doubts of whether this was appropriate or not to do. Was it idol worship she was doing? Are we supposed to bow down to images? Why is she worshipping Mary, when the Bible says to worship God alone? On the day that I was supposed to enjoy being a true Catholic, why were these thoughts in my head now?
As I was about to enter college, I had still been reading the Bible religiously everyday trying to learn more. I was excited as one of my friends from my Academy was going to room with me for our freshman year, but he canceled out at the last minute to go to another college. I was depressed about this, and was afraid that I was going to be "alone" again. So wouldn't you know it, God provided a devout, Evangelical Christian to be my roommate instead....
My roommate told me about InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and how his family had been involved with that college ministry for years, and brought me to their first meeting of year at our campus. Immediately I began to feel like I was in the midst of family. I remember the staff worker of the fellowship giving me a copy of the NIV Bible, and I was just happy to ask really tough questions to them like - "Who created God?" - and they patiently attempted to answer them. On the first Sunday of my college life, my new friends brought me to an Evangelical Christian church and during the song, "As the Deer", I began to cry, and I realized that day that Jesus wanted me, and I confessed that I wanted Him as well and truly became saved that day!
Thru His Grace, I grew very quickly in the Lord, and enjoyed fellowship with other believers. I was re-baptized in Christ's name as I now knew Who He was and is in my life. However my heart still had scars from years past, and by His mercy, I began to deal with those issues, one at a time. It was so hard to confess what had happened to me, but God provided a men's group that loved Him, and I was able to gain wisdom from their counsel. I ended up confronting the person who abused me so miserably a few years back, and even though that person was unrepentant about what happened, I was nearing freedom, because I had learned to forgive, as Christ commanded.
I've learned a lot in my life a Christian. That no matter how bad it seems that I've screwed up or had circumstances come against me, it is still plan A in God's eyes, and never plan B. His will for my life never changes, and I know that He will "restore the years that the locusts have eaten away" (Joel 2:25), when I am in heaven at the Restoration of all things. In times of trouble and pain, I have learned to preach the Gospel to myself and to learn that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what truly matters, and that nothing else satisfies except the love of the Lord.