4th Year Mathematics & Statistics, Uni of Edinburgh
My name is Shawn and I’m studying Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Edinburgh. I am so happy to share my story. I come from China where the government is not very open to religon. However I was quite interested in religion, because I believed faith could bring people happiness and live a better life. Because of the cultural background of China I engaged with many Buddhist ideas, I read several books on Buddhism and I really liked the wisdom they wrote about. But having had an education largely based upon science I found it hard to believe in Buddhism.
When applying for university I chose to study Mathematics; It was during that time I started to believe there must be a creator of this world, since the beauty of math is really hard to comprehend relying on mankind’s thinking. When I came here last year, I thought it would be a good chance for me to get to know more about the largest religion in the world, Christianity. I wanted to find out why it was so powerful and popular.
I went along to a dodgeball event in the Freshers’ Week and coincidently found that it was being held by the Chistion Union, and met my dear friend Nigel there. We had a coffee and spoke for some time, and I got some basic understanding of the Christian belief of the Trinity. Then I went to many other CU events and I really enjoyed the atmosphere there especially the ceilidh, as I had just moved to an empty 8-bedroom flat where I was quite lonely.
After some time I went to a pub quiz held by the CU where I met my dear friends Jonas and Nabi who invited me to the CU’s International Café. Here I met some really nice people and through the Bible study I came to know that Bible is not only reliable, but also a great book. However at that time I was still only learning about Christianity, I didn’t yet believe it as I hadn’t realised my own sin. I remember telling others that hypothetically I would be quite happy to let my children become Christians in the future, but it was too hard for me mean to become one as it breaking through the cultural barrier that exists in China.
But during one International Café I met a guy called Suraj from Nepal who used to be a member of a gang, but he miraciously converted to Christianity because of Jesus. He invited me to his flat and we had a discussion where he told me that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. In no other religon is there a great love like this between a god and people. At that point I wanted to receive the message Jesus offers to everyone.
Meanwhile Jonas invited me to the Charlotte Chapel. Although I was a little bit nervous I decided to go along. I liked the atmosphere very much so I started going regularly.I learnt a lot through the preaching, both about Christianity and how to live a good life following Jesus. However most religions tell people to do good things so why was Christianity different? I still couldn’t make my final decision about whether I truly believed in the Gospel.
My turning point for my decision came in the Christian Union’s Events Week 2016 where I heard people’s stories and watched the Gospel story acted out. It got me thinking, why was I trying to see how God’s love fitted into my culture? Why wasn’t I thinking about the faith itself? With all these great people I had met why did I still want a sign to persuade myself that is was true? I spoke to a friend, Owen, and he said if you believe in God and Jesus then, why don’t you want to call yourself a Christian?
The last piece of my conversion started as I read a study of Uncover Luke (a study of John, a book in the Bible) with Jonas, and I started to realise how sinful I am. Jonas told me that it is important to know that Christians shouldn’t get satisfaction from how many good things we do but from realising that we are sinful and need God, he also gave me a clear idea of sin: God gave us free choice, and we choose to do wrong rather than good. Suddenly I realised that my attitude towards life had changed. Before I was trying to live a good life because of others’ opinions of me and morality.
I try and lead a godly, good life, because of my love for God. It can be tiring, but God has sacrificed His son so I can have eternal life so it is to show Him my gratitude. I’m no longer buried in guilt for my mistakes as I understand that I am saved by Jesus’ death - how great is He that He took our punishment for our sins by dying for us on the cross. I was like the Lost Son (Parable of the Lost Son: Luke 15:11-32) and I finally decided to Join the Lord’s family. It was just after this that I heard a pastor at my church, Charlotte Chapel, that they were happy to baptise people on Easter Sunday 2016 and I thought this was God speaking to me, knowing that I was ready to show my determination of my repentance on such a meaningful day!
I feel so thankful for all those people who helped me find my way to the Lord’s big family and I am so happy that I can live a life with satisfaction and the greatest love found in Jesus!