Life is a miracle with Jesus Christ
Br Francis Tan
My life “started” even before I was born into the world. My dad wanted to fulfill my grandmother’s wish of letting her carry me at least once before she passed on. As her health was deteriorating, my parents tried very hard to conceive but were unable to do so. One night when my dad visited his mother in the hospital, he told her not to worry about his family, that God would provide and that she could go in peace. My grandmother replied that she would always be praying for them, and especially for me. The very next day, she passed away. One year later, I came into the world.
Although I had not physically existed in this world before then, God had carefully planned and knitted me in my mother’s womb the precise time when it was right for me to be born. Even before I was born, my life was eagerly anticipated and dearly treasured by my family and my grandmother whom I would never meet.
Life on My Own
Despite all of that, I did not have a proper relationship with God and took Him for granted. I treated Him more like my favourite superhero — ‘Batman’. Whenever I needed Him, especially in times of helplessness, I would switch on my bat signal to shine in the sky to ask for His help. But whenever I did not need Him, which was most days, my bat signal would be switched off completely. I did not know who God was and only had a transactional relationship with Him.
This broken relationship with God was also a reflection of my own broken relationship with everyone around me. As I did not do well in my studies, I desperately sought to prove my worth and identity in other ways. I would appear to be a good boy to my family, a prayerful person in church, a cool person to a particular group of friends and a studious person to another group of friends. I was trying so hard to impress and win the approval, love and acceptance of others that I ended up wearing many different masks just to blend in. I became more of a chameleon and less of Francis. I was colourful on the outside but empty and dead inside.
Encountering Jesus Christ
I felt utterly helpless and knew that the only person who had the power to fix me completely was God. After turning down my parents countless times to go for the Conversion Experience Retreat (CER), I decided to turn on my bat signal again and signed up for CER #50 in 2016. For the first time in my life, I encountered the person of Jesus and His love.
The most significant moment for me during the retreat was during one of the Praise and Worship sessions where my facilitator challenged me to move to the front row. As I entered deeper into worship, I looked at Jesus on the cross and felt as if every single mask was stripped away. At that moment, I felt naked and disgusted at myself. Yet Jesus still looked at me and told me that He loved me for who I am. I had done nothing to deserve His love, yet He chose to love me anyway. It was so unthinkable and crazy! What a reckless yet marvellous love. I was totally overwhelmed and realised that the love and acceptance that I had been craving for all my life could not be fulfilled by anyone or anything on this earth except by Jesus Christ. For me this was the climatic moment that I could never forget and it has changed my life forever. I was lost and now am found; was dead and am now alive again!
New Life with Christ
After that encounter, I felt as if my eyes were finally opened! I felt like Spider-Man who just woke up after getting bitten by the spider and realised that he was not the same person as before. My disposition started to shift – from being self-centred towards caring and loving others. I changed the way I speak, using more life giving words instead of negative words. I no longer had to put on any masks, no longer had to be a chameleon and could freely be myself! Because I now know that I am always loved and accepted, not for what I do, but for who I am. This new life was like a 180-degree transformation!
It is a miracle, I am a new creation!
A Simple Desire
Through the guidance and care of Father Jude David, I joined a Catholic community, met many role models from the Office for Young People (OYP) and grew in my relationship with God. As this relationship deepens, within me stirred this passion to live my life for more than just myself – I want to live for Jesus.
I remember looking at the crucifix one day and asking the Lord what He wanted of me. And the words of Jesus Christ, echoed by His priests during mass came to me, ‘this is the chalice of my blood…which will be poured out for you and for many…Do this in memory of me.’ Those words burned deep in my heart crystallising into a simple desire: To pour out my life completely for Jesus and His Church.
From that moment on, I decided to live my life directed solely towards this call that the Lord had placed in my heart, like a sharpened arrow flying straight to its target; no turning back! I gave up my old job and worked for OYP, before eventually joining the seminary in 2019.
Life is a Miracle with Jesus Christ
My life, my vocation, is truly not my own. Everything that has happened to me, whether I was conscious of it or not (even before I was born), has shaped and formed me into the person that I am today. I never would have imagined my life to be the way it is today. Entering the seminary or working for the church was never part of my plan in my life. And yet, these past few years since my conversion have been the best years of my life.
I have never lived so fully nor felt so alive!
‘Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen’ – Ephesians 3: 20
For me, it is truly a miracle; the transformation of who I used to be to who I am today and even who I will be in the future. A miracle that is not even complete and still has so much more to reveal; as long as I continue to fix my gaze on the Lord, to trust Him and walk in faith with Him on this adventure towards Heaven!
Your life can be a miracle too! Through, with and in Jesus Christ all things are made new and life truly begins. Let us all embark on this miraculous adventure together, towards Jesus, towards Heaven!