| Jaspreet Kaur | Opinion | Malaysia | 1 April 2016 | Asia Samachar |
It was just another boring Tuesday afternoon. I had just been released from a two hour lecture about laboratory report writing that seemed to last a lifetime. It was a long walk but I managed to drag myself to the public cafeteria in University Malaya. It was four in the afternoon and I appreciated the small quiet crowd. I found myself a table just underneath a ceiling fan and I enjoyed the soft breeze in my hair. I slid out my laptop, excited to continue binge watching Criminal Minds. Hardly 10 minutes into an exciting episode about a serial killer, a woman in her 60’s and a pretty young girl, who I assumed to be her daughter, approached me. I was prepared to give them directions to places they might be headed to or even suggest places to eat. “Do you mind if we join you?” the auntie said with a twinkle in her eyes.
Why not, I thought to myself, as I removed my earplugs and whispered a tormented goodbye to my laptop. I had three hours to kill anyway. I returned a warm smile. They sat on the table and introduced themselves. I discovered that the young girl was a Geology graduate from the university and was not related to the woman at all. For the purpose of this article, lets refer to them as Jane and Aunty Alice.
“What are you doing here in the university?” I asked.
“We are here to spread the love of God.”
At that moment, I knew my day was going to be extremely interesting. Jane, a social worker in Kuala Lumpur, comes occasionally to the university in Kuala Lumpur to spread the word of God and to help the people around her. She spoke of charity work and insisted that she wanted to help others.
I was prepared to donate the last RM2 I had in my purse. As I glanced at Aunty Alice, I noticed that she had a bright yellow booklet in her hand, with a pen in the other.
“Have you heard of the Four Spiritual Laws? Can I share this with you? It’s completely free,” she asked me.
The teenage rebel in me screamed. I was at a crossroad. I could either tell her I was a bisexual atheist that had a wild sex life or I could make my father proud. I decided to be an adult and encouraged her to continue. She excitedly flipped the page. The pen, in her right hand, guided pointed at the words on the page as she read out. Law ONE: God loves you and has a wonderful plan in your life. She explained that God’s love was so great that he sacrificed his only son for our sins. This is when the quiz begins. “If i were to give you a gift, what must you do?”
I responded by saying that I must be deserving of the gift and be grateful for it. Aunty Alice nodded but that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. “I must receive”, I said with a sigh as the sudden clarity of her intentions dawned upon me. I requested to read the booklet myself but she insisted we go through it together.
She flipped the page. LAW TWO: man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life. She explained that all of us were sinful but we craved a connection to God. The page even had a diagram, two blocks, one above the other. Obviously, God was on top and “Sinful Man” beneath. The block for “Sinful Man” had arrows pointing towards God but unable to reach Him. I was already dreading to see what was on the next page. I kept silent, nodded and smiled as she continued.
LAW THREE: Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sins. Aunty Alice began to remind me that Christ died for us. She underlined the sentence several times.
“I have already read the Bible, I know what you’re talking about,” I said.
She seemed pleased. It was evident to her that Jesus Christ was God himself because he was resurrected. She told me that Jesus way the ONLY way to reach God. Another diagram, similar to the first image, but with a cross was in between the two blocks, with the arrow from God pointing towards Man.
The last law, LAW FOUR, we must individually receive Jesus Christ as saviour and lord. It was no longer about God, it was about Jesus. She told me I must receive Christ by personal invitation. Self directed life, where Christ is outside life, will result in discord and frustration, she explained. With Christ at the centre of your life, interests are directed by Christ, resulting in harmony with God’s plan.
Aunty Alice looks at me and gently asks me which represents my life?
“Neither. My religion Sikhism teaches me that God is One. We refer to them differently, Christ, Allah, Waheguru, but they mean the same thing. I would say God is in my life and I feel guided but not specifically by Christ.”
Aunty Alice pursed her lips and continued reading out loud verses from the Bible.
My eyes fell on my phone, which had been buzzing on the table. I was too bored to listen about how great Jesus Christ was and how he was supposed to have changed their lives. It was time for them to start listening to some common sense.
“Aunty, I believe that religion is nothing more than a way of life, a path. No matter which path we choose, our destination is the same. If God’s love is the destination, religion is the road to it.”
You could see the frustration in Aunty Alice. “If every religion is right, why is the world in chaos? Why is there so much of bad in this world if every religion is perfect?”
Did she truly believe if every man, woman and child in this world were Christian, no crime would exist? No evil shall dwell upon Earth just because everyone goes to the church on Sundays?
“Excuse me, Aunty, but I think you are very wrong to say that. The world does not lack religion. The world lacks humanity and empathy. Everyone looks at religion differently. Religion can only guide you to be a better person but it is entirely your choice to interpret it. Many people do bad things in the name of religion. How can you blame religion for their mistakes?”
“That is how you feel but people can’t change,” she replied. “I know because I was in a bad place in my life and I could not change but Jesus came to me and He changed me. He spoke to me and made me a better person. I am sharing the Gospel with you.” Now, there are tears in her eyes. Her faith was unshakeable. Good for her, I thought.
“Do you want to go to Heaven?” she asks me. “The only way to get there is through Jesus Christ or God shall send you to Hell. I know because I’m going to Heaven.”
This woman was delusional. “Aunty, I strongly believe that if a person is kind, good at heart and respectful, he will not be punished or doomed to live an eternity in Hell regardless of what religion he chose. Every religion offers us forgiveness for our sins and whether we accept Christ or not, we are the children of God. Initially you said you were spreading God’s love but you seem too focused on Christianity. God’s love comes through various channels. Why not share the teachings and love from Islam, Buddhism and Sikhism? If you’re telling me to convert to Christianity, you are indirectly expecting me to challenge God’s decision. He decided that I was to be born into a Sikh family, He chose this path for me to connect to Him. If I were to convert, I would be implying that He chose the wrong path for me. Who am I to question God?”
At this point, I strongly believe that God was paying attention because a canteen worker approached us and told us to move to a different area. I felt blessed. Before they left, Aunty Alice and the silent Jane asked to pray for me. I felt like I was dying of cancer but who was I to deny such an offer?
“Shall I pray for your studies, good grades or something else?”, Jane asked me.
“I don’t believe we should keep asking for more in our life. We should work for what we want to achieve and only thank Him for what he has already given me,” I said as calmly as I could manage.
I know it was mean but I wanted her to feel the sting. They bowed their heads, thanked the Lord for their time with me and begged him to show me the light and guidance to receive Him in my life..
I, on the other hand, thanked God for ensuring that I was raised by parents who helped me develop all aspects of my life, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Just as they were leaving, Jane handed me the booklet. “Just in case you change your mind. You might need it someday. You never know,” she said.
I slid it into my bag, desperately not wanting to hear another sermon. Lucky I kept the booklet, it helped in writing this lengthy article. I tried my best to be polite and respectful during my encounter with them but I felt extremely disrespected. They may have spoken to me in a gentle and caring manner but I despised their intentions. Am I really going to Hell because I choose to live as a Sikh? If that’s the case, how bad could hell be?
I am young, a little naive. My relationship with God is not perfect. I don’t pray daily, I don’t go to the Gurdwara as often as I would like but I think of Him daily. I see Him in my father, when he makes the sacrifices that only a father can make. I see Him in my mother, when she showers me with her unconditional love. I believe God is always with us. I see Him in every precious moment of my life and I know He stands by me at all hard times. I believe that’s enough, at least for now.
Jaspreet Kaur, 21, is from Ipoh, Perak. She is currently studying at University Malaya in Kuala Lumpur
Questioning faith (Asia Samachar, 26 February 2016)