Selflessness is an understatement to describe 24-year-old Petchompu, or Stamp as she’s fondly called. She’s full of compassion, gentleness and is generous with her time to serve others. Stamp is an active member at her local church in Bangkok and is also a doting and loving daughter to her mother, whom she has a very close relationship with. But Stamp admits that it was a journey for her to reach this state of contentment.
I grew up in an environment filled with Buddhist beliefs and values, and was raised in the care of a single, working mother. Though it’s a common belief that being raised by a single parent is a misfortune, I never once felt inferior to others. Instead, I saw it as a blessing as it brought us closer together as mother and daughter; as a home that is only filled with women is not weakness, but a sign of great strength.
My mother did the best of her ability to give me a comfortable life, but I witnessed the hardship that she had to endure in raising a child alone. This developed my fear of trusting men and resorted to relying on nobody but myself. But this was an internal struggle as the constant stress and pressure I put on myself made me feel miserable, isolated and lonely.
Just a little over a year ago, my mother accepted Jesus Christ into her life. I was supportive of her new-found faith, but I didn’t share the same eagerness of becoming a believer of Christ. While I dutifully accompanied her to Sunday service, faithfully sang worship songs and actively listened to sermons, I still felt a sense of uncertainty while attending church. I felt I wasn’t ready to accept God because I lacked the basic understanding of Christianity.
In my mind, I wondered: Is God real? Did Jesus really exist? How should I trust and know that God loves us and forgive us? I wondered if the Bible was written by man and if it was reliable? It was these questions that I wanted to ask but was afraid to do so, as I felt they were deemed too controversial. I didn’t want to cause any conflict if I brought them up.
The starting point in my journey of faith began when a friend of mine introduced me to Alpha on August 2017. I never heard of Alpha before that and had no expectations of it. But it caught me by surprise as it was not like any other Christian program that I’ve encountered before. In my Alpha group, I engaged in conversations with my group members as if they were my lifelong friends sitting in my living room. I felt so warmly accepted that it encouraged me to go back every single week. And those questions on Christianity that I had no courage to ask before, I finally became comfortable enough to ask them to my group members. We took it upon ourselves to figure out these life questions together.
The atmosphere and people at Alpha gave me a sense of ease that it was safe to ask these difficult questions. I knew it would not create problems because everyone was able to ask anything and discover the answers together. It was great feeling that people did not judge me for my curiosity.
My faith gradually formed in Alpha and I finally started to understand Christianity. It improved my relationship with the people around me and my feelings of loneliness began to vanish as I began to feel that I belonged to a new-found family in church.
I used to think that when visiting a church, Christians would pressure their beliefs on others. But Alpha changed that for me as I now see that Christians are a bunch of happy people who genuinely loved God and they made me feel really loved too. They were willing to answer my questions and share their life experiences.
I am happy now. God has transformed me from the inside. I discovered answers to many questions. Even though I do not have all the answers, I have hope they will be answered with time. Knowing God is the best thing that has happened to me. I feel loved, taken care of and have hope every new day.
As my relationship with God grew deeper, so did my relationship with my mother. While I used to go against the idea of her pressuring me to believe in her God, we now spend quality time together talking about our love for God, singing and praying together as well. We also share Bible verses and encourage each other through both good and bad times. All of this has improved the dynamics in our family. I believe this is God’s plan for us and the joy we have now is beyond what I could ever imagine.
Through Alpha, Stamp finally found peace in her heart and acceptance about Christ that she was looking for all along. Although it was a long journey, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She felt guided by God in her walk of life and finally experienced real love and vows to share that love with the people she encounters every day. Stamp now helps out at her local Alpha group and attends Jaisamarn Church in Bangkok, Thailand.