This is the true story that introduces the reader to the subject of Dywen Lauren's book, Unleashing God's Truth.
The reader meets a pre-teen Lauren, second youngest of five daughters, who staunchly abides by the rituals she sees her parents practise. One sees her offering incense at the altar of gods and departed ancestors, and helping her mother slaughter chickens and drain their blood for offerings at the altar.
Lauren tells how her family regarded her as the “boy” of the family, and how the expectation on her to fulfill that role made her a bold person, willing to take on challenges and stand up for her family.
She describes how, at the same time as being involved in her parents' religions, she received primary education at an exclusive convent school, and was exposed to the practices of Catholicism, but saw no difference between it and the rituals of her other religions.
Her young soul was troubled, she says. She explains that she was searching for what she thought of as the Truth of truths and had a strong conviction that if she was to embrace any particular faith she must know for herself exactly what she was believing in. She was not satisfied to proceed on the basis of what someone else told her, she says. She wanted the truth to reveal itself to her.
In pursuit of her quest the young Lauren read books on Buddha, only to learn with dismay that he himself was searching for enlightenment, she says, and reveals she thus realised Buddha was not the God she was seeking.
Nor, when she went with her mother to Hindu temples, could she comprehend how God – if there were one – could be in such forms as sculptures emphasizing the sensuous figures of goddesses with many hands, or ferocious male gods, or cows, elephants and snakes, she writes.
Lauren asked herself why she was worshipping all these images and animals, she says.
The practise of Taoism also baffled her, she reveals. At Taoist temples there were gods of wealth, of war, of hell, of health, of happiness, of mercy – a god for every need, she says. She writes of her memory of asking her mother why there were so many gods, and why some of them looked so fierce and frightening.
Lauren tells her readers how her dad would say that if she wanted to be a courageous person she must possess the same spirit as the god of war, who, she said, had a red, fierce face and held a long sword. But 'though she found them grotesque and fearful she was not allowed to make unfavourable comments about them, because her parents feared that bad luck or evil would befall her, she writes.
Despite all the confusion she felt, the author says she somehow understood in her spirit that these “deities” were legends, or ancient warriors, or good people, highly revered, who had come to be worshipped as gods.
Looking into Islam, the religion of the majority of the population of her country, was easy because for many years she had two good friends who were Malay Muslims, she says.
The reader learns that this religion struck some chord with her. “At that time, Islam was the only religion I knew that did not worship statues,” she says. “Moreover, I admired their diligence in observing prayer times five times a day.” Nevertheless she was disillusioned that their Prophet gave Muslim men the right to marry four wives, and disappointed with the religion's discriminatory restrictions on females, she says.
Lauren remembers being favourably impressed with the God of Moses when as a child she was taken to see the movie, “The Ten Commandments”. She saw Him as a righteous God, she says - mighty, but also compassionate – a fair God who treated and took care of men, women and children equally. She tells how she wondered if this God still existed, or if this was “just a movie”, but took note that the movie credits had said the story was based on a true history taken from the Bible.
Still, nothing was adding up for the young Lauren and she concluded that none of the religions she had examined were for her, the reader learns, so as an obedient child she would abide by her parents' religions.
So she debated and argued with Christian friends who tried to witness to her, because she equated them with the Catholicism she had already rejected, she said.
One day she was invited to a Christian youth outing to a resort island where she had never been, she writes. She tells her readers she was keen to go, and confident she could not be “brainwashed” by the Christians – an opinion shared by her parents – so she was allowed to go.
By now the Christian reader might be anticipating the outcome as Lauren attended a service where, as a captive audience, she heard the gospel explained for the first time in a fullness she had never heard before. She explains it this way: “There the God of Moses spoke to me. On that day – December 13, 1981 at 11.35am – the Spirit of the Lord convicted my heart. I saw the reality of heaven and hell.
“Because I loved my parents very much, I could not bear the thought of them spending their eternity in hell. Even at my young age, I had several times told God (whichever one I was praying to at the time) that I was willing to go to hell on behalf of my parents.
“I was willing to take their place and be reincarnated as an animal as long as they were reincarnated as humans who would live in wealthier homes, or in paradise, if there was one.
“The God of Moses revealed to me that it was not His will that my parents or anyone in my family should go to hell when they died. There was a heaven and He was the God of heaven. Furthermore, it was only through Jesus Christ, His Son, that my family could go to heaven.”
She says her heart melted when she realised that it was “God who first loved us” and that Jesus, His Son, so loved His Father that He was willing to die for His Father's beloved creations. “I knew that this was the God for my parents, my sisters and myself. And I knew my parents would reject me and persecute me. I was prepared.” she said.
And so the reader is taken on a journey of the discipling of this 14-year old girl over ensuing years – what Lauren sees as the unleashing of God's truth in her life – resulting in lessons she shares in the remainder of the book by that name.
Unleashing God's Truth is published by Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson USA, and can be purchased on amazon and koorong.com