Every member of my family is a free thinker even though we offer incense to Taoist deities and pray to the Buddha. As a kid, I had always thought we were either Buddhists or Taoists until my parents one day told me, we were free thinkers. That is, we do not participate in temple activities or abide by festivity rules simply because they were the word. We do it because we believe in them.
In that sense, we were all born free thinkers and live the life of a Taoist. In spite of that, I find myself often praying albeit briefly to many forms of higher beings across several religious beliefs instead of specific ones in any particular religion. That includes Jesus, and the God in Christian belief. That is why, I feel that I’ll probably convert to Christianity someday in my life but the time has yet to come.
When Dad was admitted to hospice and in huge denial, feeling anger at everyone around him who, in his eyes, “weren’t helping him get better and out of the hospital,” for some reason, I started hoping that he could turn to Christianity because I somehow felt that it can help him find peace.
A week before Dad passed after I returned to visit him, I learned that he did become a Christian. While he was still able to voice his thoughts on October 1, he said to me, “I can’t go home anymore,” and told us that he would like to have a Christian funeral, which was in stark contrast to a month earlier when he kept asking everyone to help him get out and that he will recover. He seemed to have accepted that his time has come and found peace within himself.
On the morning of October 3 when he passed away, the doctor told me he could still hear us although he is unable to respond, and that if he feels pain, he could still shed tears. I couldn’t imagine how it must have been in the hours in the middle of the night when he knew he was leaving but we weren’t by his side; how he must’ve held on till that morning so that we could all be by his side again. But when I spoke to him constantly trying to keep him alive for as long as possible before everyone else arrived to see him for the last time, his eyes remained dry, which I sincerely hope was because he no longer felt pain and did find peace.
We followed his wishes and held him a Christian wake, regarding which many of our relatives and friends were surprised when they very kindly attended to pay him their respects. At the wake, I mentioned to Mum and Sis about my wish for Dad to turn Christian during the time he was in denial and how I am glad he did and found peace, both Mum and Sis very surprisingly said they both did too. Neither of us were Christians and yet all of us separately prayed for that without knowing the other two were also doing the same thing. The most surprising of whom was my mum.
How did Dad turn Christian then?
When he was hospitalized for a fever that wouldn’t subside toward the end of his treatment, he very interestingly saw a friend whom he hadn’t contacted for some 20 years. That friend of his was at the hospital visiting another friend and happened to walk past Dad’s ward. Dad happened to see him walk past and called out to him, and this friend happened to be Christian. That brought Dad toward the words of Jesus and he eventually turned to Christianity when he said he saw light after one of the prayers they did for him. It was the moment that he said he suddenly felt very light and at ease, and free from burden and decided to turn Christian.
Dad’s contact with Christianity wasn’t the first as I remember finding a bible bearing his name at home which belonged to him when he was much younger, but eventually found his way back to God just a week before he passed. Seeing how Dad left us in peace was great consolation than if he had remained bitter and resentful in his last hours.
Some of my friends who learned about Dad’s Christian funeral asked, “So your time (into Christianity) has come,” but I replied “No.” I don’t think it has come yet, but I still believe that it will eventually and I hope when that time comes, I can experience the same kind of peace I see awash over Dad last October.
Sorry for your loss, but glad that he found peace before the end.
Contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not just for the dead and dying, you really should explore it soon. And like you said, it is no coincidence that your father found God again.