During my first weeks of college in London, one of my hallmates became a fast friend. Angie was very friendly, and I knew she was a Christian and went to church at St. Helen’s Bishopsgate. She would always invite me.
I kept turning her down until she invited me to a Christmas service. Out of guilt, I said yes and went with her.
Angie was going to meet me at the service, but she was late. I was on time but didn’t go in.
I felt awkward. I had never been to church. I didn’t know how to act or stand or behave.
The welcome team saw me, and though I looked like an outsider, they didn’t ignore me or put pressure on me. They made me feel comfortable.
A lady came along and stopped to talk to me. My first impression was that she was a lost tourist roaming the church. She came up, said, “Hi,” and asked if I was okay. Then she stood with me until Angie came.
Everyone at St. Helen’s was so nice. I kept thinking, “The Christians here are different from the people I usually meet.” I felt like whatever God was doing, it must be good.
The whole experience opened my heart to God and made me willing to know more about Him.
The next semester, I took an extra class on theology and philosophy. It wasn’t a coincidence that the first module we went through as a class was on the Bible.
I began reading the Bible and had a lot of questions. Angie was there to help me. We had time and opportunity after class to discuss the Bible, and my spiritual journey was a gradual process.
One of my questions was about sin. I struggled to understand why Jesus died when He was innocent and we are sinful. I didn’t understand how a murderer or someone who does horrible crimes could just ask for forgiveness, and Jesus would forgive them. That was hard for me to grasp.
Another question lingered in my mind: Are people really sinful? At first, I would have told you I’m a good person. I give money to charity; I help old people cross the road; I’m a good person in general. I’m not sinful. Why do I need God?
When I started to learn more from reading the Bible, I realized that the sins the Bible talks about are not things I thought were sins. Sin is not just about doing bad things, it’s also about ignoring our Creator.
I used to be very self-centered and self-reliant. Then I learned about how to put God on the “throne” of my life, letting Him sit in the chair and be in charge, not me.
Angie took me through a book called “Would You Like to Know God Personally?” I had been reading the Bible, but I didn’t want to say yes to following Christ unless I was sure.
We read the book together, and when we reached the prayer at the end, I had decided I wanted Jesus in my life.
When I get discouraged, I think about how bold Angie was at talking to people about her faith. I learned from her not to give up and to keep talking to people about my faith.
The depth of love that God has for us, to forgive us and send His own Son to die for us – that’s incredible. He’s infallible, invincible and loving. It felt good to know that even though I falter and fail, God is always there to fall on. That’s a lot to grasp.
Xinjia Li attended King’s College London, where she was involved in campus ministry with Agapé, the name for Cru in Europe. She graduated with a Master of Pharmacy degree in 2015.
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