Don’t Fight Sexual Sins Alone

Written by Aimee, Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

I am 20. I’m female and I used to struggle with masturbation.

It all started when I was in my sophomore year of junior high. I was dating a friend from church who served as a musician in the worship ministry. As he was serving in a high-profile position, I assumed that he was a decent boy who would appreciate me as a girl. However, his actions proved otherwise.

He came to my house one day while my parents were not at home. At first, we just talked normally. But then he started doing things that are inappropriate for dating couples.

Somehow, I didn’t have the courage or strength to stop him or fight back. After that day, I felt so disgusted with my own body. Not long after, I ended our relationship for fear that we would do worse things. We didn’t end up having sexual intercourse, but what he did to me that day led me to fall into committing other sexual sins.

Two weeks after I broke up with my boyfriend, I saw a pornographic video on my father’s phone. Internally, I felt conflicted. On one hand, I was disgusted with myself for watching pornographic videos. On the other hand, I grew more curious.

To satisfy my curiosity, I read erotic stories to find out more. It only made me fall deeper into sexual sin. I started to masturbate till my first year in high school.

When I first started, I would feel immense guilt each time, and I would tell myself that I would never do it again. Yet, as if I were in a trance, I was unable to resist sinful temptations and masturbated time and again.

When I was truly convicted of my faith in my freshman year of university, I decided that I wanted to help myself. I told myself I would stop allowing this sin to taint me. I started to do devotionals daily, but it didn’t help me to stop having sexual fantasies. I attended seminars on pornography and read articles about how to break free of sexual sin. And I prayed, asking for God’s help, and committed myself to spend time doing devotionals and praying every day.

But all these efforts proved unfruitful, and I was unable to resist the temptation to indulge in my sexual fantasies. I even felt that I lost my personal relationship with God. I felt like such a hypocrite—I attended church regularly on Sundays and served in my university’s Christian Fellowship, but I was still trapped in sexual sin.

It was frustrating. I had tried everything, so why hadn’t God delivered me from this sin? I was desperate for deliverance, but I had no idea what else I could do to free myself from the claws of sexual sin. My state drove me to my knees in fervent prayer to the Lord, which is something that I rarely did. While I was praying, I wept because I feel so weary fighting this sin alone.

It was at this point that I came to the realization that the more I relied on myself, the harder it got to clean up my mess. Finally, with God’s help, I mustered the courage to come clean about my struggles with my spiritual mentor. Deep down, I felt embarrassed and ashamed, but I knew I needed to get help.

When my mentor found out about my struggles, she didn’t judge me. Instead, she responded with love. She reminded me about God’s grace and forgiveness, demonstrated by Jesus Christ who died on the cross. God knew that man can never clean up their own sins and be perfect, and hence He bestowed Christ as an atonement for our sin. I was reminded that if I received Christ as my Savior, my sins would be forgiven (1 John 1:9). However, I still needed to strive not to sin.

After talking to my mentor, I recalled a Scripture verse that I once heard at a service. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15).

When I reflected on Paul’s words in Romans 7:13-26, I realized that I was still living as someone who wasn’t freed yet. I was allowing sin to hold me hostage. No matter how hard I tried to fight it, I would always fail again because I was prone to sin. I had to fight these battles by relying on God’s grace and involving Him every step of the way instead of relying on my own resilience. I saw that the only One who could sanctify me and free me from sin was Christ.

Since that day, I have resolved never to rely on my own strength to break free from my sexual sins. It is not easy to resist temptations, but it is not impossible. With the Lord’s strength and with my mentor’s guidance, I have slowly risen up and out of my sins. Whenever I am tempted to masturbate, I remember His words.

Psalm 51 also reminds me that while David fell into sin, God still used him as His instrument for Israel. David genuinely regretted his sin, and cried out: “Wash away all my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:2).

I am thankful that God hears when we call. It is through Him—and only Him—that I can be freed from my sins. Even though I have fallen into the same dark pit many, many times, God always reminds me of how much He loves me and how He wants me to return to His side. He reminds me of the sacrifice that Jesus, His only Son, made on the cross for me through Romans 5:6.

Ever since then, I haven’t masturbated. However, whenever I grow weak, I still am tempted. In such circumstances, Psalm 51:2 is my prayer. I could never deliver myself; I can only stand in awe of God’s magnificent work in my life.

 Praise the Lord for His love!

When God Rejects our Dreams

Written by Krisandryka Wijaya, Indonesia

I love Neurology. The study of the disorders and diseases of the nervous system fascinates me. During my time at medical school, I participated in Indonesian Medical Olympiad and though I didn’t win, the experience strengthened my love for the branch of medical science. After graduating from medical school, I applied to be a neurology resident at a public university.

From where I come from, you can choose between a public or private university if you want to be a General Practitioner (GP). But if you want to be a specialist, i.e. a neurologist, surgeon, pediatrician etc., you must attend a public university.

The thing is, the odds of getting accepted into a public university are very low. According to my seniors, test results and work experience play a tiny role in determining whether or not you get accepted. Instead, your connections, faith, and ethnic group play a much more significant part—or in their words, “Those who are accepted are either blue-bloods or the lucky ones.”

Being a part of the minority (as a Chinese and a Christian) with neither work experience nor connections, my hopes of getting accepted into a public university were not high. During the residency interview, one of the interviewers implied that I didn’t have any work experience and failed to prove my interest in neurology. So when I was notified that I didn’t get accepted, I only felt a tinge of disappointment, knowing that I had two attempts to try and get in. I held onto the tiny glimmer of hope that I would get accepted the second time and prove them wrong.

Two months later, I started working in a hospital as a GP. I worked shifts and on top of that, I was attached as an intern to the two neurologists working in the hospital. I got into work early five days a week to follow up on their patients, assist them in their rounds, and also help out in the neurology clinic. Though doubling up as an intern and a GP was exhausting, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I believed that this would greatly boost my resume and give me a fighting chance when I made my second attempt to apply for residency.

I had high hopes when I took the test the second time. I thought I did pretty well in the written tests—I had studied much harder this time than the first round—and at the interview too. It also seemed like the interviewers were much nicer to me; I didn’t pick up on any possible hint of rejection.

But I was completely wrong.  On December 20, I received my second, and final “No”.

I was in disbelief. Though I knew that I was up against all odds, I believed that God was able to make it happen if He wanted to. Apparently that was not the case. It was like God Himself had rejected my dream and I was left hurt.

“Why didn’t You give me what I want?” I asked God repeatedly during that time. Though I still prayed and read the Bible daily, I was disappointed and angry with God. I celebrated Christmas and New Year’s half-heartedly. I felt lost. I knew that God works for the good of all who love Him (Romans 8:28 is actually my favorite verse in the Bible) but I just couldn’t see the good in this at all. My top new year’s resolution was to trust God’s plan for my life. But how was I going to do it now?

God provided the answer soon enough. On the first Sunday of 2018, I attended the second service for young professionals and new parents (I usually attend the youth service but I overslept that day). The sermon was based on Jeremiah 29, with an emphasis on the verses 11-14. Most of us would find verse 11 familiar, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Though I’d heard these verses many times before, I’d never really understood them in their original context. What I learned that day was that God had given this word to the Israelites during a difficult and dark time in Israel’s history when many of them were exiled to Babylon. They couldn’t accept the fact that 800 years after being freed from Egyptian bondage, God would once again allow them to return to bondage in Babylon. But God said through His prophet Jeremiah that 70 years must pass before they would be able to return to their homeland.

Hearing the passage in its original context gave me a much better appreciation of the promise God made to the Israelites. I felt like I could identify with the Israelites, who must have struggled to hold onto God’s promise to them in the midst of their bondage. But, at the same time, I was reminded that the same God who took care of them—delivered them from their slavery, provided for them in the wilderness, defeated the mighty Canaanites, gave them the Promised Land and made them into a great nation—is the same God who takes care of me. He gave me life and the gift of salvation, provided for my family, and enabled me to go to medical school and become a GP, among other things. God allowed the Israelites to go into exile as part of His plan for them and I could trust that He allowed me to go through this as part of His overall plan for my life.

At present, I am continuing my work as a GP in the same hospital I was previously interning at and I will be getting married at the end of this year to a fellow doctor. Though I know I may never be able to attain my dream of becoming a neurologist, especially if we do start our own family, I do not fear the future anymore because I know that God holds my future.

He is the author of my life who has good plans for me. So I trust Him and His plans as I journey on this road of life with Him by my side.

Does God Care About the Ordinary?

Written By Christine Lew, Malaysia

We all know God can do mighty miracles. But have you ever wondered or doubted if God was interested in everyday affairs? In my case, God answered me in a way that I will never forget.

I had just returned home after a mission trip to India. My final piano examination was just a few weeks ahead, but for some reason, my fingers were soft and weak from a lack of practice. I couldn’t even play simple songs on the piano, how was I going to sit for my final diploma, the Fellow of Trinity College London Diploma (FTCL)?

For it, I had to perform a complex musical repertoire—like a professional pianist would in a public solo concert or recital. Even before the trip, I had been hitting the wrong notes and having trouble completing the songs. What now with the state of my fingers? Helpless, I prayed before every practice session, “God, help me. I really need You for this; I can’t do this without you.”

Each time I played, I could feel my fingers growing stronger and stronger. Instead of taking an entire week to fully regain my technique and strength as I had expected, it took me just three days. Though it still felt like I was lacking some emotion or feeling that would take my music to the next level, I prepared for the exam as best as I could.

On the day of the exam, I prayed and handed the entire exam over to God. The first and second song went extremely well. I could feel God’s presence, and I played those pieces better than I had ever before. I felt calm and settled, as I enjoyed my playing for the first time—right until the third and final piece.

From the moment I hit the first note, I knew it was going to be a flop. I had accidentally set the tempo far too fast, and once I started, it was like trying to hold down a launching rocket. I simply couldn’t slow down. The whole song went haywire. Wrong notes sounded in literally every bar. It’s over! My panicked mind screamed. It’s really over! This diploma required high proficiency in each and every piece. With a song like this, I was bound to fail miserably. The entire performance would either be “Approved” or “Not Approved”; I was sure that my playing would be the latter.

On the way home, I kept telling my mom that it was over, that she’d better not get her hopes up. My mom looked at me and said, “You’ve handed the whole exam over to God, haven’t you? Well, now’s the time to leave it to God. Don’t worry and don’t doubt. If it’s God’s will, you will pass. After all, He is a God of miracles—as you yourself have seen.”

Indeed I had. In India, I had seen hundreds of people lifting their hands to God, laughing and crying as God’s presence engulfed them. In the church, I had seen cancer patients and even a paralyzed man healed so that even doctors marvelled. Even in my own family, I saw my mom set free in tears after being demon-possessed for six months; and my father, a devoted Buddhist, accepting Christ and transforming into a man of God. I had witnessed all these miracles with my own eyes. And I had faith that God could do great miracles. But how much did God care about a little thing like an exam? Nevertheless, I submitted the exam to God, trusting that, no matter what, God would give me the results He deemed best.

Within a few months, I had forgotten all about the exam. Until one day, my mom excitedly told me that I had passed the diploma, with full marks. Full marks! She had to be kidding. In the FTCL there are no marks awarded. But my mom showed me a photo of the exam result slip, and there it was: “Lew Xin Yi, 100.” My teacher messaged me that the examiner was highly impressed with my performance, and that he wanted to let me know the score he had given me.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. How was it possible to even pass with my final song wrecked? But not only did God grant me a pass, He also gave me full marks—a score I have never seen anyone ever obtain in any diploma, let alone in the final and toughest one of all.

My eyes filled with tears of gratefulness and sheer joy. It was beyond what I’d ever imagined. It was God.

Looking back, if I had simply passed the exam, people would assume that it was because of my musical talent, and I might have become proud of myself as a result. But God gave me a perfect score, not only to let me know that this was entirely because of Him, but also to show the world that He is a God of miracles.

After I graduate high school next year, I hope to continue my musical journey by becoming a professional musician.I know now that I have God to uphold me, and with Him, I need not be afraid of anything. He is not only there in earth-shattering events. He is there during my practice and recitals. In my everyday life.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalms 27:1)

Thank you, God.

Am I what I do?

Written by Clare Lee, Singapore

This was the question that was explored over the pulpit at my church a while ago. We learned that Christians are not defined by their jobs (or lack of), but by their identities in Christ; Christians were once slaves to the world (Galatians 4:3), but have now been adopted as children of God (Galatians 4:6-7).

Yet that exhortation didn’t bring me any comfort. If this was true, why then did it seem as though I was being treated differently—even by believers—because of my vocation?

In Singapore, the default introduction that one gives on meeting a new face is to state one’s occupation at the time. And, depending on what you say, the response you get can be different, as I experienced.

I spent some time in teaching some years ago. Upon hearing that I was a teacher, people would tell me that I was doing noble work and praise me for devoting my time and energy to molding young minds. It didn’t matter that as a non-graduate teacher, I did the same work as my graduate peers, but with half the pay—which, if I may be completely honest, was demoralizing.

Later, I spent some time helping out with holiday programs at my church’s student care. I felt that this was similar to my previous job. Though it didn’t require me to mark assignments, I was still interacting with young people from the same age group. Yet I felt like I was now viewed differently, as people questioned why I had made such a choice.

Once, a pupil even told me that I “should be having the time of my life” as a young adult instead of helping out at a student care. While I was taken aback by the comment, I calmly explained that every job that was respectfully done, was a worthy job to have. Yet, I couldn’t help mulling over the thought: If even a child had a preconceived notion of which job was respectable and which wasn’t, what more an adult?

I tried my hand at freelance writing for some time too, after a friend offered the opportunity. I learned much from it, as the experience gave me a greater awareness of current affairs and taught me about time management—working without the fixed routine of an office job. I was discouraged, however, by the unsolicited opinions that came my way. People kept telling me that freelance writing wasn’t a profitable job, and shared about opportunities they felt were more beneficial, like private tutoring.

I think I would have been less affected if these sentiments had come only from non-Christian acquaintances, but they were echoed by people in church, even those I trusted (including those in respected positions). Although I was thankful that freelance writing was a good match for my interests, skills, and personality, my initial gratitude later turned into discouragement and despair, and I started to wonder: Why can’t people just be happy for me in what I do?

Presently, I write for a Christian website. While I am not earning as much as I used to, people generally react favorably to what I do. I guess this is due to the “nobility” of the job—it is a platform for gospel ministry. I am grateful for this privilege. However, I also realize that it is no different from the other jobs I have worked at in the past—each one of them was a platform to be a gospel witness and an honest means of income.

Across these different vocations, nothing internal had changed—I possessed the same qualifications, personality and social status as I did when I first started teaching. At the core, I was still fallen, in need of my Savior, but saved by grace. I’m still learning not to take to heart the labels that people put on me as a result of their skewed perceptions of what I do.

These days, I’m learning to rest in the comfort that while my identity (in the eyes of the world) seems to be tied to my profession, in God’s eyes, it never changes. As a child of God, I am neither falsely elevated by a job that society deems prestigious, nor will I lose my standing in God’s sight if I were to hold a less conventional or prestigious job. My identity as God’s child is secure in Him.

Though I live in a society where my perceived worth can fluctuate, nothing inherent about me has changed. I am valued for who I am by God, and I can rest assured that I remain a beloved child of the Most High.

And for that, I am thankful!