Be Born of the Water and the Spirit
3 Jesus answered and said to him,“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
5 Jesus answered,“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
John 3:3,5 (NKJV)
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I testify.
Thank God for the opportunity and the time given to me for this testimony session. I would like to testify about how I came to believe and join TJC (True Jesus Church). Actually, I’m an average person; same like others and nothing special. I grew up in a Buddhist family but it wasn’t the common Buddhism we think of today. This Buddhism wasn’t just about praying in a temple to some god or deity, but it was a Japanese Buddhism known as Nichiren Shoshu or Soka Gakai; its worship center is in Japan. I was also very active in this type of Buddhism because there were a lot of activities like learning the scriptures and also marching band etc. I think I was pretty active because I joined the marching band; we often went to other cities outside of Jakarta to perform as both a marching band and as a symphony band. We even performed at the State Palace (Istana Merdeka), that is the same as the White House in the U.S.
Now, about the time we came to the U.S. in November, 1998, I told my wife, Liviana, “I will come to your church since I don’t know where to find Nichiren Shoshu or Soka Gakai Buddhism in the U.S.” Also, for your information, I have never attended TJC before and never even dropped Liviana off to church a single time. Coming to the U.S. was the beginning of the spiritual journey for me and my family because three years later in May, 2001, my daughter and son got baptized in TJC. As for me, it took almost ten years to get baptized, even though many brothers and sisters, along with my wife, asked me or encouraged me to get baptized. I still remember my wife talking about how getting baptized is like getting a passport and VISA to the heavenly kingdom, to meet the Lord Jesus, but I always said a big “NO!” Some brothers and sisters, along with my wife, probably gave up asking me about baptism again, instead they secretly prayed for me.
Finally in March, 2008, our Lord Jesus called me into His covenant. Our Lord Jesus arranged everything for me to get baptized. I didn’t need to request a day off because I had to attend a special training for five days, Monday to Friday, from 8AM to 5PM, so I was able to attend the Evangelical Night Services from Wednesday to Saturday. After I attended four nights of evangelical services, I finally filled out the application for water baptism without telling anybody except my family, even though I did not really understand the teaching of our Lord Jesus or the Bible. Even now, I still don’t understand sometimes, but our Lord Jesus called or chose me as the Bible records in John 15:16, it says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” By the time I would get baptized, God softened my heart through His arrangement, and He also provided a hire angel (someone get pay) to accompany my daughter and son to go to the Saddleback College for their piano CM (Certificate of Merit) because it happened at the same time that I will get baptized.
On that beautiful Sunday morning of my baptism, I got a vision that I did not realize until I saw a video clip presented before our sacrament of foot washing. Later on, after picking up my kids on the way home, I told them that I saw a weird thing in a few seconds during my baptism; it seemed like a video clip, very clear, and it is still very clear in my mind until now. After that, my wife told me that it was a vision from God. I told them that even though I didn’t wear my glasses and Pastor Chen covered my face during the water baptism sacrament, I still could see things very clearly. This vision took only seconds while my body was immersed into the living water. Suddenly, I felt our Lord Jesus or His angel lifting me up to the sky and I could see very clearly like with eagle eyes. I was flying to the middle of the ocean and saw that our Lord Jesus was performing water baptism to someone and nobody was around, just the two of them. The reason why I say that our Lord Jesus was performing water baptism is because even though I was far away in the sky, I saw a person with a very bright, white robe; so I thought that it must be our Lord Jesus Himself performing water baptism to someone. I believe that this vision was a symbol to show me that my baptism was the true and correct form of water baptism. After I saw our Lord Jesus performing this water baptism, suddenly, I saw another part of the vision. I saw someone in an upright position sinking down to the ocean floor very slowly. During this part of the vision, I could see everything very clearly, from the bubbles near the person, group of the fishes, and the rocks on the ocean floor; everything was very bright because of the sunshine. I also felt very peaceful in water and I could breathe normally, like on dry land; I could see everything as if I were snorkeling or scuba diving. Then, when the person reached the ocean floor, he suddenly kicked his feet to lift up his body out of the water; he then disappeared into the air and my vision ended as my body was lifted up by Pastor Chen.
I didn’t tell anybody about this vision, except a sister and a brother. They recommended me to ask the pastor for the meaning of this vision. I finally had a chance to talk to Pastor Chen weeks later on a Sabbath day. I explained my vision to him and he said, “Our Lord Jesus showed you that He Himself was performing the water baptism.” He also said, “One sister saw a vision too during the sacrament of Foot Washing, but nobody was around except her and our Lord Jesus performing the foot washing for her.” That was all he commented on.
On the very next day, while driving back home from work; I had another very quick vision that related to my first vision. In this vision, I saw a baby in a womb. The baby could breathe easily inside the womb, even though the baby was covered with water and floating, just like the sinking person in my first vision. The baby was peaceful in there, just like I felt peaceful in the water of the first vision. When the time came for the baby to be born, the baby turned over and kicked to come out head first, just like the sinking person in my first vision. Through this vision, I realized that my first vision symbolizes to be reborn again. This is also recorded in John 3:3 where Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
After I got baptized, I continued to strive to observe Sabbath Day. I attend Friday evening service that is beginning of Sabbath Day, even though I have to sleep less before going to work. My work shift starts 11PM to 7:30AM and for the past 1 year it start from midnight (12PM) to 8:30 AM, however, our Lord Jesus always takes care of me faithfully and I also try to make the full day (whole day) for Saturday services. However, our Lord Jesus always takes care of me faithfully with healthy body and abundance blessing. At that time, I started to ask our Lord Jesus for the Holy Spirit that He has promised as a gift after baptism, as the Bible records in Acts 2:38-39.
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
I started praying and asking for the Holy Spirit from one ESSC (Evangelical Services and Spiritual Convocation) to the next. I also took every chance to go up to the front of the chapel to pray for the Holy Spirit whenever the pastor invited us to come forward, even during regular Sabbath services. Every time after I prayed in the front and didn’t receive the Holy Spirit, I said to myself that I’m a sinful person and still not worthy to receive the Holy Spirit because God’s Spirit is pure and perfect. After I prayed and asked for the Holy Spirit for weeks, months, and years, I still did not receive the Holy Spirit, so I thought my sin was still unacceptable.
Since I was a kid until now, I still commit sins knowingly and unknowingly; however, the problem now is how to repent and not repeat the same sins. Before my mom passed away, even though she was not a Christian, I still remember her telling me to honor your parents now, not tomorrow or later. She once told me a story of one of her friends from a wealthy family who ignored and almost forgot his parent; my mom’s friend never paid a visit or made a phone call to his parent. I think during my mom’s time, only a few people had telephones because the TV was still in black and white; I also believe there were no cell phones yet. One day, his parent passed away and he was so sad and regretted not taking care of his parent. After that, he bought a luxury coffin with pretty carvings and also built a tomb with granite and expensive stuff; however, it was too late since his parent could not see or feel or enjoy that care from him anymore.
I try to pass on this story to my kids to remind them to honor their parents while they are still alive. What I mean by to honor your parents is to listen to your parents talk, not talking back or being impolite, and to care for your parents by paying them a visit or chatting with them. This is part of the fourth commandment in the Bible that God gives us. For me, I had a good relationship with my mom, as if we are like buddies. However, who knows beforehand, I might have made some mistakes or other sins, or even committed a secret sin as the Bible mentions in Psalm 90:8 You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance (New King James Version) also recorded in simple words Psalm 90:8 and you know all of our sins, even those we do in secret (Contemporary English Version (CEV) 1995 ). Until now, I keep praying and confessing to our Lord Jesus for all my sins that I remember I made intentionally or secretly so that He can forgive me and show me His grace and mercy.
Last year in September of 2012, our resident pastor and some brothers came to visit our home. We had a chat about some statues that I bought during our honeymoon in Bali. One of the statues we had was of a female figure riding on a swan which represented the god of education. We also had another statue of a male figure with six hands riding a condor that represented the god of destruction. In addition, we had statues of mating horses and other things such as my Buddhist prayer book and the Buddhist prayer beads. This was the first time we mentioned these things to a pastor, but after chatting I finally understood that God is a jealous God as recorded in Exodus 20:3-6, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Right after the pastor and the brothers left, I had a thought to throw away all of the statues in our home, as well as the Buddhist prayer book that I had kept them over 20 years. Even though the things were priceless, held sentimental value from our marriage, was of good quality made of rare ebony wood, and had nice detailed carving, I determined to throw away everything. The very next day, my family and I prayed together and in the name of our Lord Jesus, I threw away everything into the trash bin; I did this so that nobody could pick them up to keep and secretly idolize because they were really nice statues. To throw away that stuffs for me meant to cut off the idols in my life; I don’t regret it so I think that is why our Lord Jesus answered my prayers, as well as the prayers of other brothers’ and sisters’.
About 3 months later, our resident pastor asked Liviana, my wife, “Does Harry, your husband, have the Holy Spirit already?” She answered that she didn’t know but she asked me when she got home. I told my wife, “No,” because I didn’t feel any differences in my prayers and there was no evidence of speaking in tongues. I didn’t go to ask our resident pastor if I had the Holy Spirit yet or not; instead, I kept praying and confessing my sins to repent. Until later, during WDC (World Delegates’ Conference) that was held in Irvine, April of 2013; many preachers and ministers from different countries came to Irvine, California, USA to attend world church delegates meeting and one of them was Indonesia delegates, I had a chat with the Indonesian delegates and I was suggested to ask a pastor about this matter. I went to ask an Indonesian pastor to confirm if I had the Holy Spirit yet. It was only during our 1st Indonesian SSC (Services and Spiritual Convocation) in U.S., this Indonesian pastor told me that I had the Holy Spirit; however, he did not confirm it with confidence but suggested me to pray more since my Holy Spirit was still weak. I continued to pray more for the fullness of the Holy Spirit and to keep asking for the forgiveness of my sins.
A few weeks later, as the first night of our True Jesus Church in Irvine ESSC (Evangelical Services and Spiritual Convocation) ended, I left church to get ready to sleep and go to work; however, I forgot my stuff in the refrigerator so I came back and ran into Pastor Chen. Without me asking, he confidently told me that I had the Holy Spirit already. I thank our Lord Jesus for that and for His forgiveness even though I do believe that I still have great sins. As the second night of our ESSC ended, I asked the Indonesian pastor about my Holy Spirit again. Without him knowing that I got the confirmation from another pastor that I had received the Holy Spirit during the first night of our ESSC, this time he said that my Holy Spirit was getting stronger. Coincidentally, at the same time, our resident pastor told me with confidence, “Harry, you have the Holy Spirit already”; I told him, “Thank God.” Finally, my prayers and doubts were answered when 3 pastors confirmed that I had the Holy Spirit. Today, I still pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that He can stay in me as living water and guide me to the narrow road to Heavenly Kingdom.
Lastly, thank God that after a few years have passed, my wife, kids and I have completed this spiritual journey as a family in Christ. Everybody in my family now has the Holy Spirit and we also have a chance to serve the Lord Jesus through different talents, even though they are just small chores. So this is my testimony and I share it with you only to glorify our Lord Jesus’ name and edify others. May the honor and glory be onto our Lord Jesus’ name. Amen.