"Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right; My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness."
-- Proverbs 8: 6-7
I was a sixteen-year-old student in my final year of my secondary school education when I was invited to the Central Christian Church. I was on a bus home when a man who sat beside me introduced himself and invited me to his church. He was small-built person, but the way he spoke and his sincerity aroused my interest. As I was studying in a Catholic School, I had a general understanding of Christianity and was curious to know more about it. I gave him my telephone number, and he called me a few days later to invite me to the Sunday Church Service. I was reluctant to attend that Sunday, but I turned up for the service the next Sunday, as I did not wish to disappoint him.
I attended one of the Sunday Services of around 200 people, not really knowing what to expect. The welcome was warm. There were a couple of teenagers like me and they made it a point to talk to me and make me feel comfortable. I struck up a few conversations with them, and they told me how joining the Church had changed their lives. I enjoyed the service a lot and the preacher's message was very inspiring. They invited me to study the Bible and I promptly agreed.
We met up at a fast-food restaurant the next day and started the Bible study.
The person who invited me allowed another teenager who was around my age to give me the Bible study while he sat beside to give his guidance. I later realize that the person who invited me was leading the teen group. We proceeded with the study. As deep in my heart I had always wanted a relationship with God, the studies picked up in pace.
After the Kingdom Study, I was shown a local newspaper article with the heading: "Two Cults Exposed." Inside the article talks about allegations about the church practices, such as confession of sin, control over members' lives, etc. However, they were able to show me different Bible verses to convince me that much of these allegations were false. I was also told that they were engaging in a lawsuit against them and the court case was going their way. I was convinced by them as I had attended their service personally and they did not seem to me to be like a cult.
We finished the Bible study in fourteen days and I sought my parents' permission to be baptized. My parents were more into Chinese gods; they were reluctant to let me baptized, but finally gave in after much persuasion. I was baptized on 28 Feb 1995. The person who studied the Bible with me became my discipler.
Most of my pagan friends were surprised that I became a Christian and was constantly making fun of me. However, I was told to expect such persecution and so did not really take it to heart. Most of my friends were also amazed in the change in me; I become more polite and was very 'religious' in their eyes, but they were curious to know my church and they became my potential recruits.
Almost every night were taken up by some form of church activities, but I never complained as I enjoyed the company of my new Christian friends whom I believed were my true friends. My discipler often praised me, as I was always able to bring visitors constantly. As most of the teen group was not doing well in their studies and I was studying in a top school, I was considered 'sharp'.
I started to give Bible studies to people and many brothers often told me that they had high hopes for me in the "Kingdom". I became a discipler after a couple of months and soon thereafter became a Bible-Talk leader.
It was after I started attending the leaders' meetings that I began to have doubts about the church. I realized that we had to fill in 'stat' sheets that show the number of visitors brought, number of quiet times missed [by the people in my group], how many weeks the people in my group had failed to bring visitors, etc. I was shocked by the legalism in the church, as leaders' meetings were often about meeting the requirements set by the leaders.
As my Bible knowledge grew, I began to ask questions about these practices, my dicipler was unable to give me a sound answer, a few leaders talked to me about it and warned me not to question too much as it would affect my relationship with God. I withheld my doubts, as I trusted the leaders.
The teen group did well at first, but later in the year many of the brothers and sisters fell away. As I was one of the main leaders in the teen group, I was under tremendous pressure. I was unable to produce the same results I used to show, and I began to see the true face of the leaders. They began to challenge me and expected me to produce results. My studies had never been really good and they suffered tremendously with so many commitments and pressures from the upper echelon leaders. Even when I was taking my O-levels, I was expected to attend Bible Talk meetings.
The teen group changed hands, and was under different leaders as many fell away and the group grew smaller and smaller. The church itself was not performing well either, as it staysed around 700 memberss -- baptisms only made up for the fall-aways. I was totally disillusioned by this form of Christianity, as my relationship with God was based on my 'productivity'. I stayed away from the leaders' meeting and was told by some that the leaders branded me as 'weak'.
I began to share my doubts with other brothers and sisters, but most just follow the church's leaders blindly and never consider the doctrines of the church. They do have wide knowledge of the Bible and are well versed in the Bible, but do not have deep knowledge of the Bible.
I began to question about one-over-one dicipling -- if it was biblical, why was it never mentioned in Acts or in any other books? 3000 were baptized at Pentecost (Acts 2:41) -- who were their disciplers? How come we don't find the word 'discpler' in the Bible? Do disciples in Acts have to fill in stat sheets? If the ICOC is the only true church, how about people before 1979? There are many other questions one could legitimately ask, and most of the members of the church have no idea how to answer them. Even answers from the upper echelon leaders were vague.
In March 1996 I decided to leave the church. I knew my life as a Christian was going nowhere. A couple of the leaders talked to me and some friends visited me at home to persuade me to stay, but my heart was set on leaving.
Leaving the church was hard, as I lost many of my good friends and I began to question whether it was the right choice. I thought of going back, but after checking on the net and found out that many others shared the same experiences as me, I called a few of my friends who left the church and we realized the pain we experienced in the church.
As we look back, we realized that many teenagers are being tormented by their experiences in the church. I remembered brothers and sisters whose studies were badly affected because of their commitments in the church, and many left Christianity totally as they received a steady diet of "what's wrong with other churches". When they reach a dead-end with the Central Christian Church, they became totally disillusioned with Christianity. There are exceptions, but there are many teenagers like me that are hurt by the church spiritually and psychologically.
I thank God for getting me out of this destructive organisation. Those who are still in the church, especially those who know me, may be hurt or angry with what I wrote, but 'my mouth speak what is true...' I hope that those who are still in the church could be Berean enough to find out the truth about the Church. Please pray that God will lead you out of this powerful delusion and into Freedom in Christ. MAY THE TRUTH SET YOU FREE...
Note: I will be writing a commentary about the recent court case of the Central Christian Church against a local newspaper for branding them as a cult.
Love in Christ,
KUO SOON YONG
©1998 by Kuo Soon Yong <email@example.com>. All rights reserved.
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