going to church has been a big part of who I am. growing up, it was expected to go to church. if i ever protested, or wanted to sleep in, my parents would claim that i was going to hell for not wanting to go to church. the concept of hell frightens everyone, much more an eight year old trying to understand who she is.
and i suppose going to church is part of my identity. being at a chinese first generation immigrant church for years was unique. looking back, it was a testament to God’s faithfulness that there were enough chinese people who wanted, for one reason or another, to worship God and to go to church. God’s faithfulness has been evident throughout atlanta chinese christian church north’s existence, but us children saw going to church as a curse. we would mock the adults who attempted to teach us the Gospel through their broken english, we would run around the church, trying to escape our dreaded sunday schools or worship services. we would ironically attempt to sneak into the korean church upstairs for their food. we hated church. i hated church. those early years at atlanta chinese christian church taught me the fundamentals, but i hated church.
sometimes as punishment, my parents would tell me to face the wall, get on my knees for an hour, and say sorry to God. i began to see God as someone who was constantly angry with me, and it was up to me to make it right.
one year, i had knee surgery and was stuck in a wheelchair for half the year. because atlanta chinese christian church north met at a building that was not wheelchair friendly, a classmate introduced me to north point, which is now one of the biggest megachurches in the nation. after the first visit, i was struck by how…fun….it was. i was actually interested in what they had to say, in what they had to offer. even after my knee got better, i would beg my parents to take me to north point. it was at north point that i began to learn of how close and how lively God is. i even began to memorize bible verses, just because of the manner in which they treated memorizing the bible. through the (jumpy and energetic) songs we sang, i learned that i should be a “shining light” for jesus and “learn to live for You always”.
eventually, i somehow stopped gong to north point. my mom told me to go back to our chinese church, which now had its own building. and it was the same as before. i learned more bible stories. i watched more cheesy bible videos. i thought of more ways to escape church each sunday. however, there was one difference:
God was calling me to be His.
I didn’t know it at that time
But I wanted to answer that call.