Today, Antonia speaks to us about the power of prayer, sharing grace and choosing Jesus for herself.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I am the first child of 3 siblings. I was born and raised by loving but quite old-fashioned Christian parents. As the first child, I was demanded to be perfect in order to be an example for my younger siblings. [There were] many things I could not do because I would be criticized, and sometimes, I felt a little jealous of the freedom my siblings had. Our family was a part of an old conservative church in town. So until I grew up, I knew a God who was loving but felt so far away, because the embedded mindset was: “If you want to be blessed, you must live obediently.” It felt so similar to the way I was raised. Because I had to be a perfect child, I became a perfectionist in everything I did, including how to live a righteous life, too. But sadly with that mindset, I feel that I am not worthy of coming to church when I have done a lot of wrongs and sins.
Then, I was disappointed by a friend in the same church, who always insisted that we had to maintain holiness in our relationship, but in fact he did bad things with some other women, then he did that to me, too. And the disappointment plus the feeling of being unworthy made me finally fall into a destructive dating style. [I was] mingling with the wrong people, and I increasingly distanced myself from God. I even once doubted the loving nature of God, until I finally decided to learn for myself about God. I realized that I [was] a Christian because I was born into a Christian family, not because I chose this religion for myself.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “He knows the plans He has for you, but you don’t. That’s why you will call upon God, seek God, and find God when you search God with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29 : 11-13
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Learn how to convey what I understand about grace — and how I believe in God’s promises in my life — to those closest to me.
Profession: I am an accountant in a trading company. I work among people who have not yet met Christ personally. And I am a wife who wants to learn to put Christ first in all things and to serve my family well.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? The truth that sets us free.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? About 4-5 years ago, when I learned more about Christianity. I was at a crossroads, and when I felt unsteady, when I wanted to search earnestly, I said a simple prayer to God: “Lord, give me wisdom, give me the answers I am looking for.” Then He sent in my life people who were very close to Him, to guide me through the Scriptures, to introduce me to This Person that was far different from the God that I knew from childhood. And God started to talk to me. He showed me the concept of grace, and He brought me closer to Him. He showered me with His love and forgiveness, He received me completely with all my shortcomings and mistakes in the past. And I began to understand the grace concept: God’s love and forgiveness can never be earned; instead, it flows from the very heart of God to every person, even the most unworthy. ‘Grace’ means that God’s love, forgiveness and salvation is available to all who accept the gift.
That’s why I really like what Jim Caviezel (The Passion of The Christ’s actor) has said, “Seek for yourself whether something is true or not. It’s not about religion, it’s not about tradition, it’s not about what people told you. In the end, it’s only gonna be about you and God. Seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened, ask and it will be given. God is there to show Himself to you.”
If I couldn’t know Him personally, how could I change my mind? He even gave me a man who loved Him very much, who could invite me to learn together in getting to know Him, and this man can also accept me for who I am. It was in those times that I felt that it really was not right living that led to the right belief, but knowing and believing what was right, that was what led us to live righteously. As Pastor Joseph Prince once said, “Right believing leads to the right living.”
How has your relationship with Him changed you? Knowing that you are loved regardless of your mistakes, knowing that there is a Person who accepts you for who you are, certainly makes you want to live for Him. Makes you want to please Him in all aspects of your life, and when your focus is only to know Him further and please Him, He begins to change your life. He gives a new perspective, He gives new insights, He gives new peace and joy. He enables you to love your enemies, He gives you a new heart that longs to bring others to feel His love and mercy.
“He begins to change your life. He gives a new perspective, He gives new insights, He gives new peace and joy.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? The fellowship that I have, which contains friends in faith with whom I can discuss the Bible and [talk] about God. We are always in touch, and when there are topics we want to discuss together, we hold a video conference call. I feel very blessed to have friends who can remind each other and build one another in Christ.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): War Room: Prayer Is A Powerful Weapon by Chris Fabry. This book taught me that people who were close to God’s heart will emit different auras; they will have different attitudes and speech. And the prayer of those close to His heart has power. This book also reminds me to write my dreams and prayers, then cross them out when they have been answered, one by one. (I’ve done this before, and maybe I’ll start writing again). Because He is so good, even difficult circumstances can be turned into goodness.
Top three essentials:
– The importance of prayer time;
– Verses in the Bible to claim in prayer;
– To put Jesus as priority.
How did God speak to you recently? He speaks quite clearly. Through the events/coincidences around me, or through the words of the people around me. There are many things that God uses to remind me, or to answer my question. When I’m so close to Him, I can feel that every time I have a question about something, the answers will always come to my way, immediately. I feel privileged, to be honest.
My husband said that God listens more to my prayers or my prayers are answered faster.
Hobby: Reading, saving Bible verses to read later.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
– Pray when you wake up in the morning, and pray when you go to sleep. Take time to sing to worship God too if you can.
– Always grateful for everything that happens in life.
– Keep learning, keep reading new books, and listen to online sermons.
Favorite person in scripture? Joseph. He is patient, generous, and does not hold grudges. He always believes God’s love is more beautiful than his plan. He never blamed God for what happened in his life. And in the end, God revealed His glory through Joseph’s life.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want others to see how His grace has changed my bitter life. See that God loves us fully, our mistakes are not taken into account, and therefore do not let the devil make us feel unworthy before God. Because the main purpose of the devil is that we feel unworthy, then distance ourselves from God, and increasingly fall into negative things. He is full of grace, just like how a Father loves His youngest child (from Luke 15). Let’s learn to accept His love, learn to love Him, and start to live for Him, living righteously.
How do you engage with your community? Mostly through online chat, sharing stories about God’s goodness and Bible verses that strengthen in difficult times.
Favorite holiday? Of course, it’s Christmas holiday because it gives us more time to spend with family and to remember about Christ’s birth to save us all.
A goal you have? To be the person who will help others find their way back to God.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Feast on family member’s birthday. Doing some outdoor activity together in the weekend.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? How are the people who live under the law? Have they felt God’s grace?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: To care more about the people closest to me, whether they already know the grace of God, whether they realize that they are loved by God.
What does your morning routine consist of? Give thanks to God; give thanks for the dreams and the work we have; entrust [the] day into His hands; truly acknowledge that everything God gave today is the best for me.
What is on your nightstand? A lot of stuff. Bible, books, medicines, tissue, a bottle of water.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is believing the good news about Jesus, the King who is not bound by death. A king who is willing to suffer and die for our sins, so that we are worthy before the Father, forever.
Until next time, keep witnessing!