Episode 2: ACTIVATED FAITH
“If you are to tow the path of this newfound religion of Christianity, you will have to carry your cross.”
These were my mum’s words to me on the first morning after my conversion. Her words echoed in my ears a thousand times.
My young, newly converted mind couldn’t fully comprehend what it meant to “carry your cross”. Would I have to buy a big cross and hang it on my neck everywhere I go to show my newfound faith in Jesus? No, that would be somewhat awkward.
Perhaps I should hide it inside the small Bible my friend gave to me on the night of my conversion. But what if it fell off and got lost unknowingly to me? Would I have lost my salvation and the newfound faith I was already falling in love with? The cross wouldn’t be completely safe in my bag either.
As I ruminated over these thoughts, I recalled the other statements my mum made. She had said I would likely face persecutions, especially from my father, the world, and even sometimes, other believers. Could this be the cross I would have to carry? Hmm… I guess I’ll have to get the answer from my friend.
The Certainty of Persecution
Later that day, I went to see my friend who was pleased to see me. I expressed my confusion on what my mum had said about having to carry my cross. She was pleasantly surprised that I was already getting a foreknowledge of the trials and tests (“glorious perks” as she called it) that attend the profession of the Christian faith.
However, she saw my dilemma and simply asked, “What can a poor student do to pass exams and succeed in life?”
“Study hard to comprehend what has been taught. Study past questions papers. Seek help from intelligent classmates. Strive
to answer the exam questions correctly. Never relent in the decision to succeed. When given difficult tasks, he must not throw in the towel, but ensure that he looks for ways to accomplish the difficult tasks. In short, he must determine to succeed by all means”, I responded.
“Exactly!” she said. “Just as the student needs to go through a lot to achieve his goal to succeed, Christians also pass through some things that will help them become stronger in the faith, and in order to make heaven”.
I listened intently as she explained further. “Evidently, the student may burn the night candle reading for exams. He may have to visit the library or read lots of books to make research. It takes a lot of discipline to become successful in life. And any student who wants to excel in life must make these sacrifices. This is the cross he has to carry to succeed.
“The same goes for a new convert like you. There are some persecutions, trials and temptations that the believer must overcome. These are mere tests that God uses to make the believer stronger in faith. This is the cross the believer must carry to avoid hell fire and make heaven”, she explained.
She went on, “Let me show you a passage in 2 Timothy 3:12. Read it,” she instructed me.
I quickly opened the Bible and read: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”.
The picture was now becoming clearer to me. What my friend was saying correlates with what my mum had told me.
The Test of our Faith
“See, I must tell you, my friend, a lot will happen to you. More so, as a Muslim convert, your family and relatives may strive to pull you back to their religion. They may even threaten you to weaken your faith as a Christian. But do not give in. Take it as a test or exam that you must pass to succeed. Whenever you are faced with a difficult challenge, read the Bible – it is your spiritual textbook. The answers are always there.
“Just like a serious student who would not skip lectures and would seek help from intelligent classmates, make it a habit to attend church services regularly. Hearing the Word of God frequently will boost your faith and keep you strong.
“Also, seek help from mature Christians who would encourage, nurture and build you up spiritually.”
“It is also very important to pray always. When a difficult challenge arise and you are at a crossroad, quickly say a simple prayer in your heart. God hears your innermost thoughts and He will provide a sure way out.
“To learn to pray aright, read Matthew 6:5-13 when you get home. Verse 13 says “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”. God will surely deliver you. (2 Peter 2:9).
“Now you may ask why you will be faced with persecutions. Matthew 10:17-31 explains it all and what you should do during these situations. Just don’t relent or give up. Like the student who wants to succeed at all cost, strive to endure the persecutions and never give up your faith.
“I shall be praying for you also. I will also take you to my church next Sunday and the pastor will tell you some other things that will be useful to you in this Christian race”, she concluded.
More than ever before, I was very excited. I have a foreknowledge of what would happen in the near future. It was like having access to an examination question with the answers. With this new excitement, I went home. I looked forward to Sunday when my friend would come take me to church.
As I steadily grew in this new faith, my father was unaware. He never gave much attention to us, except when he had to supervise our fast during Ramadan (the Islamic month of fasting). But as I didn’t hide my Christian profession, my mum knew that I was definitely born again, and she secretly envied my zeal. However, as the days went by, he became suspicious.
How did he get to know of my newfound faith? What was his reaction to it? How did his reaction open another chapter of my life as a pilgrim in this race to heaven?
The journey to the sufferings I suffered for Christ as a Christian pilgrim had just begun…
[To be continued next week…]