Protestant Pat (3rd Post): William Carey

Previously on Protestant Pat: Catholic Chronicles

Over the fence from my house, beyond the desert (that was in fact a sandy parking lot of the markets) and across the swampy creek was my high school, William Carey Christian School, which I will call ‘William Carey‘ for short. It’s funny that the school was named after a great evangelist (missionary) for it was through this evangelical school that Jesus had truly become a part of my life.

This movie reminded me of how I got to and from school, although I was never really brave enough to tie a rope to a tree and swing across it.

This was the second time I was introduced to the word ‘Christian’ meaning something set-apart from Roman Catholicism. Before that, I was educated through Catholic schooling, even having to travel by bus and train for 2 hours door-to-door to get to my school. The decision to have me and my siblings study at an evangelical christian school was due to it being literally across the fence from our house (the family payment plan was a bonus). And if I had my facts straight, I didn’t even acquire the right marks at the entrance exams to qualify for the grade I was entering (which was already very full). It was only by my sister’s excellent grades and mum’s insistence that they take the whole family or none at all that I squeezed-in. An extra Pastoral Care (roll call) group was, then, set up to cater for the abundance of students.

It was during that first Pastoral Care Time that my eyes were opened, the veil had been removed and the light was illuminated. It was like my collection of scattered pieces of random biblical knowledge had finally come together and arranged into a mosaic. A question that had never occurred to me to ask was answered,

QUESTION: Why did Jesus die?

Even more amazing was that the answer was simple and it made sense of everything else:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3.16

Previously, I had been so caught up with sin and the guilt associated with it that my original game plan was to minimise sin and guilt as much as possible, keeping my child-like innocence, because surely that had been ‘good enough’. Little did I know that it wasn’t. But better yet, Jesus had done everything necessary to save my life by dying for my sins.

It was the first time that I had really felt assured of where I was going after I died. But still I had to ask my teacher at the time, “Am I still saved even though I am Catholic?”

The answer had indeed been, yes. But that doesn’t mean that all the issues had been dealt with, for earlier that year my siblings and I had been given ‘a talk’ making it clear what my parent’s intentions were in sending us to such a school (it was convenient). And I remember explicitly the warning to NOT convert. It was a burden that had carried a much heavier weight as I had grown from a boy to a man of God.

But first, I had to deal with my own allegiances. I remember rejecting and repenting (turning away) from obvious sin that was explicitly dealing with idolatry, for I had played around with things like Ouija boards and quasi-spiritual meditation, having had a fascination with all that was supernatural as play things in my youth. Later that year I had gotten over my desire to be a superhero of sorts, not because I had found that pursuit to be impossible, but that Jesus became all the hero I (and the world) needed 🙂

In a way, I started to become among my peers at school (some of whom I later realised were not in fact Christians) as a sort-of Catholic Apologist. I remember being surrounded by a crowd asking me questions about Catholicism after school. They may have been genuinely interested but I knew that some were just curious about my weird accent. But I loved talking about Jesus after I had found out about the Gospel, so I didn’t mind.

The hardest and longest step for me was considering Catholicism and the culture I had been brought up with. I had to re-evaluate what it meant for me to go to Mass and take up the Eucharist. And I was challenged to consider the statues and images we had of the ‘Mama Mary’ and Jesus as possibly idolatrous. Even my diet had changed as my favorite Filipino dish (apparently) at the time, dinuguan, became problematic.

These and other matters were discussed with the most devout members of my extended family as my siblings had brought them to the foreground. And it was these discussions that added to my anxiety as to what I had gotten myself into…

Posted on November 13, 2010, in Testimony and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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