ALONE WITH GOD
“Hey Elang, how has your walk with Jesus been?” Throughout my life in the Youth Ministry at church, I’d hear this question — asked by my peers and seniors — a lot. I would always respond in the same polite and distant way, “It’s been alright, thank you!” even if I was actually struggling in my relationship with Christ. This was because I did not feel a sense of community at church, and I struggled to share my personal feelings with people that I merely saw once a week. Everyone else seemed to have a group of sisters or brothers in Christ that they were close to, but somehow I found myself all alone.
I had been a Christian ever since I was very young, and had gone to church regularly since kindergarten age. My personal walk with Christ was relatively smooth and there weren’t any major disruptions in my relationship with Jesus. However, I struggled most with finding a close group of friends in church. Somehow, I just felt like I wasn’t able to find my place and relate with the other youths. I felt disappointed at my lack of social skills as I watched others grow closer with one another without me. I remember myself wondering often, am I just not destined to have a group of like-minded friends to journey with me in my walk with Jesus?
I had participated in the annual December Youth camp since I was 12 years old, and I had always had a great time with my groupmates. Yet, I remember that during one of these camps, when I was 14, I was overwhelmed with disappointment as I realised how distant I was from the church community, and saw everyone in fellowship without me.
I FELT A VOID IN MY HEART AS I FELL INTO A DEEP, DARK HOLE OF HOPELESSNESS.
On the last worship night of the camp, it was hard for me to concentrate on God as I looked around and saw everyone with their friends, while I stood all alone at the side. I felt a void in my heart as I fell into a deep dark hole of hopelessness. It was like my feelings of expectancy were being blanketed by despondency.
Soon, I decided that it was probably best for me to keep my Christian journey private between God and me, attempting to forget about the community aspect. I tried my best to do my own quiet times and devotionals weekly, hoping that this would work out and I can just focus on my personal relationship with God. I convinced myself that as long as I am faithful in my private walk with God, that’s all that matters, and a Christian community would not be needed anymore. But I knew I was in denial, and that there was more to a Christian life than this.
A BEAUTIFUL INVITATION
Time went by and soon enough I was 16 years old — the last year in my secondary school before graduating! This was a very special year for me, as it was when I was invited to join a small group of girls from my level to meet weekly for Bible Study.
I vividly remember walking up the stairs in school with my close friend, Lois, when she asked me to join her and two other girls that Wednesday morning for a time of fellowship. She excitedly shared how she envisioned a close knit group of girls sitting on the roof of our school studying the Bible together — with God’s presence there with them. Even though that conversation only lasted a few minutes, I could feel that this was God’s doing and He was definitely in the process of making something beautiful.
Right before our very first Bible Study session, I felt a slight sense of fear in my heart, as I was worried about not being able to relate to the other girls, especially since, apart from Lois, I did not know them very well. However, my anxieties were quelled as I felt a strange familiarity and unexpected sense of connection with the girls during the session. We shared our personal testimonies and thoughts on the topic of the session, and excitedly discussed the Bible. I felt God speak to me through them as they gave advice on things I’d been struggling with, and a sense of warmth engulfed my heart. Not only did we grow closer to one another, we also grew closer to God together as a group.
I FELT GOD SPEAK TO ME THROUGH THEM AS THEY GAVE ADVICE ON THINGS I’D BEEN STRUGGLING WITH, AND A SENSE OF WARMTH ENGULFED MY HEART.
BEING PART OF A COMMUNITY
After a few weeks of being in this Bible Study group, it dawned on me that God gave me this lovely group of girls as a community where I can feel at home and walk together in our journey with Christ. Our personal walks with Jesus are crucial and should not be neglected, but having a good group of peers sharing the same mindset and love for God is also equally important! God placed this Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, in my heart: “So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
In the year ahead, we embarked on Bible Study plans together and cheered one another on when we were upset or stressed. Together, we experienced the importance of sisterhood and having a community in Christ. I was so touched to see how, even though we came from different backgrounds, God brought us together to worship God and learn more about Him. I remember at one particular Bible Study session, we were discussing the topic of free will and purpose in our lives. Although some of us had slightly differing views, we had an insightful and heartfelt discussion on what our purpose is as Christians in this world. It really felt as though they were my Soul Sisters!
Being a part of this new group, my relationship with Christ grew a lot stronger and I definitely matured greatly in my Christian walk. With the help of my Soul Sisters, I learnt to fully place my trust in Jesus and have faith in His ultimate plan when going through tough times. As the void in my heart was finally filled with love and peace, I became a lot more intentional with my devotionals and overall relationship with God!
I also started to actively look out for brothers and sisters in Christ who were feeling a little left out from the community to drop them a prayer and journey with them, and it made me realise how big God’s family is. It dawned on me that no one should ever be alone in our walk with Christ. With my Soul Sisters, I experienced that there was always someone out there willing to lend a helping hand, who would show no judgement when we opened up about our problems — and I wanted to share this experience with others like me.
If you are struggling with finding a Christian community, don’t give up yet! Don’t lose hope in God even if you feel like you can’t find your place in the community in church. God’s family extends across the physical church’s borders, and He will bless you with a loving and caring community that can come together to give Him the highest praise as long as we keep faith.