Hi, my name is Joanna and I’m from the ever-so loving UQ6! Today I will be sharing with you about having no compromise and how God used the community her at Hope Church to transform my life. Since the age of 8, I was a volleyball player. Volleyball was my life – my pride and joy. As a kid, I was determined to train to become the best player I could be. At the age of 10, I started representing the state in various competitions each year. Because of trainings, the team and I had to miss school for hours a day every day for a few months. I willingly missed church on Sundays and even stopped serving in church for a year and a half. I threw myself into volleyball and relied on it from my happiness and my escape. My mum even used to tell her friends, “volleyball is her first love – everything comes in 2nd or 3rd… even me.” And it was true, I was 16 when I became an angsty rebellious teen who hung with the wrong crowd – cursing, swearing, being violent and being angry was the norm.
I was excited to come to Australia last year because volleyball is much more competitive here. I tried out for the Queensland Premier Volleyball league and got in. Trainings were held on Tuesdays and Wednesday nights – so I missed unit prayer/unit discipleship and prayer at Unidus. Games were held on Sundays – I willingly skipped church on Sundays too, with no hesitation. As I interacted more with the church here, I witnessed how they were so enthusiastic about God and spoke of His love and grace so passionately and with so much conviction in their hearts. I wanted that too.
At CCM conference last year, I left CCM conference early on Sunday for my game. But I couldn’t stop thinking about how I encountered God for the first time in a long time. That weekend, I was personally convicted by God about how audacious meant saying yes to God without thinking twice. I felt like something changed within me. I was challenged to surrender this thing I held so close to my heart. It was a really long dilemma – volleyball or God. My mentor, Alicia, talked to me, guided me, shared her similar experience and encouraged me along the way. On the 27th of May 2018, I encountered God again during worship of the song, “more like Jesus”. In the chorus it says, “If more of you means less of me, take everything” and in the bridge, it says, “change me like only You can, here with my heart in your hands… You’ve shown us the way to your heart. Father, I pray make me more like Jesus.” During the sermon, Ps. Wilson shared about Kingdom Priorities. When I went down for prayer, Sunita prayed over me and saw God beaming at me. God was proud of me. God has laid the path to His heart and all I have to do is to take that bold step forward and do the right thing. That night, I was convicted to let go of my personal ambitions and dreams so that God can do something greater. Having less of myself would not be a loss but a gain. IT’S MORE, NOT LESS.
God renewed and grew my love for Him. I began to encounter and experience God more and more – I began to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. God has transformed me – He changed the way I talk, the way I think and the way I behave. I am now a lot calmer as a person and definitely have not been cussing since. Even my Christian and non-Christian friends from back home noticed my behavioural changed and asked, “what happened?”. And God gave me the opportunity to share how God made that transformation and to share the Gospel.
It wasn’t easy giving up something that meant so much to me for the past 10 years. On bad days, I question why I did what I did and wished I hadn’t given up. There were days when I had thoughts of joining the team again. It is a process of learning to prioritize… always putting God first no matter what – to not bargain with God. If I have 6 assignments that week – God is going to come first. I’m not going to put God in any other position other than the first.
In Matthew 6:33 it says “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all these things will be given to you as well.” Following God may not be necessarily mean getting everything that I want, but in my journey of learning to surrender the things I desire, God has shown me that He never failed to provide for my every need. Thank you!
Bachelor of Engineering/Chemical