Written By Ellen, China, originally in Traditional Chinese
I am a “second-generation” Christian and for a large part of my life, I have felt trapped by this label. I believe anyone who is a second-generation Christian will be able to identify with what I’m about to share.
Since young, I have attended church with my parents. Church was like a second home to me. It was a place where I played with friends and sang Christian songs. It was also where I learned to be the kid whom everyone adored. I was the bright-eyed child who would listen attentively during Sunday school lessons and participate actively whenever the teacher asked questions. I also took part in the annual Christmas programmes my church organized, wearing a cute princess frock and singing heartily and proudly from my corner on stage.
While participating in such activities was almost second nature to me, it never crossed my mind why I did them. At the back of my mind, I knew there was a God who created the universe and gave His only son to die for the lost. But I wouldn’t have been able to explain why this should matter to me personally.
So I was only a Christian in name. Although I served in church, I was far from God. I lived on the borrowed conviction of my Sunday School teacher and parents, frequently parroting what they taught me without a true conviction of my own. Whenever new believers gushed about the amazing grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I found myself unmoved—I had become too familiar with the idea of God’s grace, and was practically numb to its meaning. At the same time, however, I couldn’t help but felt a little envious of how impassioned they were in their faith towards God—when I, on the other hand, felt nothing.
But I started to feel bothered about my own apathy towards my faith; I knew I had to change. I was then in grade 12, wearied and burdened by the pressure of getting into a good college. I remember stepping into church on Christmas Day feeling very troubled and uncertain about my future. Although my pastor and my parents had been praying regularly for me, I was on the verge of despair.
That night, I decided to pray to God—but I was stumped. I didn’t know what to say or where to begin, so I closed my eyes, hoping that God would reveal something to me. At that moment, the words from a song came to my mind. “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.” Upon hearing those words, tears started to flow from my eyes. It was then that I realized that God knew exactly what I was going through, even though I had difficulty expressing what I was going through.
Up to that point, I had thought I was struggling alone. But the reality was that God had always been with me; He used that song to remind me that even though the future seemed unclear, it was all in His hands. It was also at that point that I finally understood that my relationship with God was a personal thing, not something my parents or Sunday School teacher taught me. God loves me because I am His child. He wants to personally guide and comfort me. He knows every little thought I have, and He has a perfect plan for me.
As second-generation Christians, we have the privilege of getting to know our amazing God right from birth. We don’t need to go through challenging obstacles or fierce opposition in order to know Him. And yet we may not know how blessed we are! In fact, we may sometimes even take this privilege for granted, and lose the sense of awe and gratitude towards Him.
I’ve learned to be thankful to God for the privilege of knowing Him since young. But while my parents played an important role in introducing Him to me, I’ve learned that it is my personal responsibility to establish a relationship with Him. I’ve come to see that the only way we can break the “second-generation Christian” stereotype is to encounter God on our own, and experience His amazing love for ourselves.