No one likes to be different, yet I have always felt 'different'. I arrived at this country when I was seven years old, with very little English and even less confidence. I looked different, spoke different, and behaved different. Sometimes people joked about the way I spoke and the odd Chinese things I did and, I admit, it was pretty funny. To this day, I am still grateful for my friends and teachers who corrected my English, patiently worked out what I tried to say, and befriended me. But, I also met people who seriously wanted to ridicule me. It was particularly challenging when someone pinched the corners of their eyes at me, or spurted into giggly shouts of 'ching chong, ching chong'. When I spoke my mother tongue in public, some would gaze angrily, others shake their heads. Some people lost their patience when I could not express myself clearly in English. I felt like I was a joke. I grew to detest my background for the shame it brought me. Often I wondered whether God had given me the wrong shade of skin, the wrong colour for eyes, and the wrong place to be. I just wanted to fit in. Did he make a mistake?
In the Bible, God makes it clear that he knew exactly what he was doing when he made us. It says in the Psalms: 'For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.' In one way or another, the colour of your skin will always define you in this world. It impacts our lives more than we know. But in God's eyes, those who believe in and follow him are all his adopted sons and daughters, without exception. When Jesus resurrected and ascended into heaven, his last command to his disciples was to 'make disciples of all nations'. Something amazing happens when people from different backgrounds gather to worship Jesus. Picture the chorus in heaven, when every tongue will confess: 'Jesus is Lord!' God planned to make us different, wanting every nation to bring praise to him. The blood Jesus shed on the cross is sufficient to redeem the sins of every tribe. Your background, dear reader, is not a mistake. God sees you, and he made you. God designed you to adore him.
In Christ, the church is family, and our ethnicities and cultures do not divide us. I rejoice in having brothers and sisters from all around the globe who are loved by Jesus, just as I am. They love me and I love them also, because Christ loved us first. I know my worth is defined by the saving work of Christ, not by what the world thinks of me. My security rests on Jesus, whose sacrifice for my sin has allowed me to become a child of the living God. In his family I have brothers and sisters with skin dark and light, languages from far and wide, and all of them enjoy a relationship with Jesus, the very God himself. I know I am dearly loved. Loved by God whose radical love is for every nation.