I'm sure I'm not the only one who comes across such questions...
"Why are you a Christian?"
"Aren't Mizo's all Christian?"
"Had you been born into a different religion, would you still be a Christian?"
And lately in University...
"The Bible is so patriarchal. How can you accept such injustice to women?"
"Creationist theory? C'mon, Zuali, you know better than that? Fossils don't lie"
Well, let me start by reintroducing myself...
My name is Hmingthanzuali. I am known as Zuali by most and Seni by family. I was born in a Christian family and I made the choice to be a Christian a few months before I turned 19. Of course, I would be lying if I said that my upbringing in a Christian family didn't influence my decision. But since then, I have never looked back or regret my decision to do so. I made the decision to be a Christian when I was in the darkest abyss of my life, with a mother dying of cancer. The reason why I chose to be a Christian is because Christ gave me hope through that dark time and everyday since then.
If you are a Mizo, you will agree with me when I say that many, in fact most, of the Christian-family-brought-up-Mizos are 'born again' at salvation campings that the churches in Mizoram love to organise. I have nothing against that.
But my story is a bit different. I met Jesus Christ in a garage.
A makeshift garage with an old rusted tin roof as one of its walls. It was a rainy July night in Shillong and I had just got off the phone with my mother who, without wavering, told me her exact condition after her latest checkup. "I am going to die" she told me " the doctors gave me a maximum of three months to live. I don't want to hide the truth from you because I want you to prepare yourself for it ". I cried and told her that I will be strong, that I am not afraid and asked her to be strong and not be scared.
That was in fact, the last lie I told my mother.
The truth was that I hung up the phone, collapsed on the cold hard floor of the PCO and wept. My mother was my fortress, my savior and someone I always run to at the end of any problem. And I don't want to live in a world without her in it.
That night whatever prayer I said wasn't enough to help soothe the pain. So that's when I escaped into the old garage so that I could have my time to confront God, get angry with him and blame him for the things that are happening to my mother - a good Christian woman. I never did. Because I didn't have the strength to fight. So instead, I begged God - my mother's God, the God that she had been serving for all those years, to help me. My prayers were from a broken soul and is not made up of words pleasing to the ears. I did not make any promises to follow Him nor did I offer any leverage.
"Ka nu Pathian kha Pathian nung I nih chuan, rawn che ta che"
(My mother's God, if You are alive, make Your move)
And move, He did. The peace in my heart right at the moment was assurance enough. Then and there, my heart was filled with hope and courage. And I know that Jesus Christ indeed lives. I made the decision to follow Christ that night in front of the old green jeep with a rusty bonnet cover. Why would I not?? If you felt the peace and safety I felt in my heart that night, you would too.
My mother succumbed to cancer three weeks after. I miss her everyday, but I am at peace because I know that it's just a matter of time before I meet her again. Having that divine peace makes me look for a brighter tomorrow. It always makes me see a silver lining in every dark cloud and a rainbow after every rain. It's that divine hope which tells me that no matter how dark the night or how big the problem, God will lead me out of it one day, and I will learn something from that pain and hurt. That divine peace is the reason which makes me say today, that if my mother had still been here with me, I would never learn how to love my dad like I love him now.
Being a Christian is not easy. It will never be easy. It's a struggle everyday following the Perfect Man's footsteps. And I am definitely not the best Christian. Sometimes I wonder if I ever make the cut of a 'good Christian' but nonetheless, despite all the problems and the struggles, it's definitely worth it because in the end, you have the hope and peace that 'transcends all understanding'.
This post is not about a philosophical viewpoint on the faith that I follow. And sadly I cannot argue on the fact that we Christians are sometimes, the biggest hypocrites in existence. History will confirm this ugly truth. And I'm not here to argue about how you practice your faith or if it's good or bad. I'm not here to be 'Miss Goody Two Shoes' to boast about my Christian upbringing or how regular I am in front pew of the church. This is, but, my brief account on my personal encounter with Christ and why I choose to follow Him.
By the time you get to this line, you might already find this ridiculous or even have an unconscious sneer on your face. But my point is that, I met God when I was at the lowest point in my life, when reason and religious cordiality have totally eluded me. If you think that God is present only in the vicinity of religious buildings or religious people, or that you can have an encounter with Him only in church gatherings, crusades or salvation campings... just remember that I met Him in a garage.
After all, it's the heart that matters...