prayer - the key to unlock closed hearts
Since the day I became a Christian, my greatest desire has been that everyone in my family knows God’s love for them. I wish for them to experience the joy, the hope and the peace that come from knowing Jesus.
But it is not easy to speak to our loved ones about God. Unlike friends and even strangers who would often out of politeness hear us out, my family members would always tell me that they are not interested whenever I tried to share the gospel with them. In the last 35 years since my conversion, I have constantly prayed that God would reveal Himself to them and that one day everyone in my family will know His forgiving grace.
It was one of the happiest times in my life when my mother finally came to Christ. She was converted about six years before her baptism. She was then in her sixties. She had been a devout idol and temple worshipper prior to her conversion. When we were young, all the children were dedicated to the temple gods. I still remember that on the first day of every Lunar New Year she would bring us to the temple first before we visited our grandparents.
My mother used to be very hostile to Christianity in the beginning. But she became more accepting when she saw the transforming power of God in my life and that of my youngest brother, who had also become a Christian.
Since my conversion, I had tried to invite my mother to church and talked to her about Jesus. But she always gave the excuses that it would be wrong for her to take on a new culture; she had worshipped idols all her life and it would not be right to betray her culture. Like many others, my mum had the misconception that Christianity is a Western culture while Buddhism, Taoism and ancestor worship belong to the Chinese culture. Moreover, my dad had died an unbeliever and my mum said she should join him wherever he is in the afterlife. I could only pray for her then and I had prayed for her for more than 20 years before she finally decided to be baptized.
During all those years of praying for my family, I always asked God to be merciful and to send someone to share the gospel with them. I prayed; “Lord, please reveal yourself to my mother, my brothers and sister. Let them know how much you love them.”
My mother’s conversion was nothing short of a miracle and a direct encounter with God. She came to faith on the day I underwent a radical neck surgery for cancer. I had undergone weeks of radiotherapy 18 months before the surgery. Unfortunately, my doctor suspected that there was another cancerous tumor on the left side of my neck and told me that I needed to go for surgery.
I only told my mother of the surgery the night before the operation as I didn’t want her to worry. But like all mothers she was very concerned. Later she told me that she could not sleep that night as she was fearful about what would happen to me. So she came out to the living room and sat in the darkness.
There was suddenly a bright light in the room in the middle of the night and she saw a man standing in the bright light. Somehow she knew immediately that man was Jesus.
She said Jesus came to her side, put His hand on her shoulder and told her not to worry. Jesus promised her that I would call her when I came out of the surgery the next day.
I was wheeled into the operating theatre about seven the following morning and did not come back to the ward till after 6 pm. I was heavily sedated and didn’t know what was going on and who was in the ward. Apparently, the ward was full of my church friends, including the pastor, my husband and my mother.
As the nurses put me on the bed, I opened my eyes for a fleeting second and vaguely saw my mother. I called her. The ward was full of people but I didn’t see anyone except my mother. I didn’t speak to anyone except my mother and I didn’t say anything except to call her. My mother was shocked at that moment when I called her as this was exactly what Jesus had promised her the night before. “Wow, this Jesus, certainly knows everything,” she thought.
My pastor sent her home after that and explained the gospel to her in the car. My mother accepted the Lord that very evening and went to church on her own the following Sunday. What a miracle!
I asked my mother once why did she decide to become a Christian after so many years of resisting it. Her answer was simple. She said, “Because Jesus cares for an old woman like me.”
I was moved. I had prayed for years that God would reveal Himself to my mother and that she may know His love. And Jesus did just that. He appeared to my mother in her anxiety and let her know that He cares for her. Praise the Lord!
My mum’s conversion gave me new motivation to pray for the rest of my siblings. I believe prayer is the key that will unlock the hearts of those whose mind is closed to the gospel. It is our God-given duty to pray for our unbelieving loved ones that they too will know God and His love for them. And we need to pray without ceasing until the day they come to Christ. Amen.
Author: Mrs Rosalind Chen (Rosalind is the wife of Revd Peter Chen, a priest with St Andrew’s Cathedral 2005-2015. They are now worshipping and serving at St James’ Church, Singapore.)
First published in The Courier, August 2009.
Photo: Rosalind with her mother and nephew.