Sunday, July 19, 2009

More About The Damsel

(Biographical info compiled and adapted from various material I've written for various purposes)

In childhood, I was a typical church kid steeped in Asian Southern Baptist subculture. I became a believer at age 8 and was baptized at 11. I can say with confidence that, though I was a child, I became a believer and was baptized with the full conviction of the Holy Spirit.

At age 13, my spiritual journey toward God quickened while most of my church peers' journeys were away from God. In His providence, God gave me high school friends who were emotionally troubled, spiritually wounded, and highly skeptical (if not downright angry) at the Christian faith and the Church. Other friends were Mormon, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Jewish of all varieties. I consider this environment the fire that lit my passion for knowing my God, my faith, and for knowing how to communicate the truth of Christianity to others.

I've since had a trail of personal experiences that have fed my passion for teaching apologetics and theology, especially to college students. Presently, I am a full-time wife and mother, but the passion has not decreased. In fact, I have become more interested in teaching theology to women.

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Several incidents in my life have brought about my passion for learning and teaching apologetics and theology. My first time considering the truth of any religious belief came when two Jehovah’s Witnesses visited my home when I was a child (perhaps at age six or seven), and my father diligently spent what seemed like an hour or more debating them on whether God could exist as a Trinity. Of course, my dad knew little actual theology and spent the time espousing modalism, but in retrospect, that was a pretty good attempt on his part to defend the Christian concept of God. I realized then that Christianity was not a given, that there exist faiths that seek to undermine Christian truths, and that there should be a defense of the Christian faith.

A second memorable incident came when I was in sixth grade. For some unknown reason, my homeroom teacher decided to challenge the class about what God is like. Now, I’m 11 years old and have never talked to anyone outside of church and family about God, but I answered what I had learned in my short lifetime of Sunday School. He was asking questions in a hostile tone such as “Where is God?” “Has anyone ever seen God?” In the midst of other kids offering up suggestions, I answered, “God is everywhere,” the simplest childhood definition of omnipresence that I knew. Well, in response, my teacher started punching the air with his fists, asking, “Did I just hit God? If God is everywhere, am I punching God?” I can’t remember how this discourse ended, but I do remember feeling offended. I could not express then what I can today that God is also immaterial, but that was certainly an aspect I knew my teacher had not understood in the context of what took place that day.

Right before high school, a family friend gave me a subscription to a teen devotional magazine, and one week was devoted to talking about groups that believe contrary to orthodox Christianity, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. About the same time, I discovered that my sister owned a few books about cults and doctrine. I simply devoured all the information I could find in the house. Church Sunday School had never taught me the content of my faith in with such clarity as I learned by reading what the Christian response is to heresy. From then on, I often asked my mom to take me to the big library downtown (because the local one was too small for me), where I checked out and read as many books on cults and apologetics that I could find.

At the time, I didn’t ask why I was learning all of this information. I just knew I was hungry for knowledge and was becoming more aware that people need to know Christ and the truth—the burden of evangelism became apparent to me.

When I started high school, God’s providence really came through (in hindsight of course). The friends I made were not the typical teens of that day, and honestly, I didn’t search them out on purpose. A good portion of them was in non-Christian faiths (Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons!); another portion was openly hostile toward Christianity, preferring to call themselves agnostic or skeptical. Yet another portion was the ones that favored the mod/”maud”, rebellious lifestyle and worldview (dressed all in black, etc.). In this environment, I had to listen to their grievances against Christianity and defend my faith and witness to them. I felt for them. I wanted each one to know the salvation of Jesus Christ, and I prayed for God to use me somehow to bring them to faith.

I look back on my teen years and think of them as the refining fire days of my faith. I had to know my faith in order to defend it. I learned compassion and humility. And all of this taking place before I was 18 years old.

My freshman year in college, I chose to defend the Resurrection for my oral presentation in English 102. As a part of Christian college ministry, I have spent time talking to skeptics in the commonplaces on campus. Along with that, I have had to deal with people trying to sabotage Christian events with heretical teachings of their own. I have taught other students how to speak about Christianity and handle hostile people at table ministry. I have dialogued with people who thought my interest in theology was irrational given my study in science. As an immature youth, I once helped ambush Mormon elders by calling the 800 number on TV for a free Book of Mormon (yes, that was wrong; but they met with us for about 4 weeks and even brought a bishop along to help them). I minored in religious studies with an emphasis in Philosophy. My professor of Western Religions (who was also a pastor) was so theologically to the left that I was glad she didn’t actually grade homework or else she might have flunked me for taking orthodoxy seriously. I attended guest lectures from both Christian and non-Christian speakers at my university (Phillip Johnson, John Polkinghorn, Arthur Peacock). I once drove two hours in a car I wasn’t legally old enough to rent in order to listen to William Lane Craig! In church camp, I taught adults, teens, and children alike the evidences for the Resurrection. I really found out my main spiritual gift when Bob Seigel from Missions Door described the prophet as the one at the table who says, “that’s what happens when you’re not careful,” to dinnertime accidents. In my mind, I blurted out, “Oh God, that’s me.” Bob said the person with the gift of prophecy is the one who is gifted at speaking the truth.

In 2000, I married the one boy who had a bigger apologetics book collection than I and could hold up his end of a theological conversation. We now have two little apologists in the making.

Since then, though motherhood is my full-time job, the drive to teach others and defend the faith has always remained strong and incessant. Thanks to technology, I blog my theological and apologetic musings. I sometimes lead community discussions through my church’s outreach ministry, called Midrash. I am always on the lookout for opportunities to lead and teach, especially to other women and also students (both high school and college).

1 comment:

jesuscouture said...

aww, i love your fire and zeal for Christ! it is apparent even through my computer screen! your interest made me think of a course at the Seminary i attend called Christian Impressions of World Religions...basically, we study 8 major world religions, their texts, visit their "houses of worship" and study with their religious leaders, all with the purpose of learning how to evangelize to them. the end of the course is devoted to apologetics. also, part of our class assignment is to witness to an unbeliever and document our experiences.

i will be sure to share the textbook used in the class, you would probably be interested.

anyway, i enjoyed reading your blog today, and i look forward to future readings!

www.thesonscouture.com