As a student, I was the one who never failed. I strived to be the top student in class, the best at extracurricular activities, and the most popular at school. I had it quite easy. I always had straight A’s and was President and VP of the school clubs. When I got bored of exams, I joined a pageant for the first time organised by Astro and became Miss Malaysia. Then I became the first Malaysian to win an international pageant – evidenced by my dad’s proud collection of Malaysian Guinness Book of Records.
I was at TVB for a while, and then I got a scholarship and went to law school. Ultimately, I even got into my dream university, Cambridge. I was literally living my dreams. After I graduated, I packed 2 suitcases and told my parents that I am going to Hong Kong to join the entertainment industry with Jackie Chan Group. Imagine my mother’s worries and agony. My friends told me that I was crazy. Back then, I was thinking, I have never failed and I never will. I was even a Christian by then, and yet I still said that ‘I’ never fail, not that my God never fails. I’ve learned over time that it’s ok to have a platform of influence if it’s God’s will for your life, but if you find your identity in it, that is when you get into trouble.
In Hong Kong, I’ve failed and failed and failed. But Jesus is the greatest teacher ever! I was rejected time and time again in castings, only to eventually land a job that could still be taken away at any moment. I had to learn to deal with rent, the press, rumours about me created from thin air, and most of all, my ego. I realised then that I have a problem accepting failure. Soon, my company collapsed and I was left jobless. I didn’t dare to tell my family or friends. I was afraid that people wouldn’t love me anymore because I couldn’t perform. I thought,
‘Who would actually love me just the way I am’?!
Every morning I would wake up and hear voices telling me the same thing,
‘Rachel, you are not good enough, not talented enough, not beautiful, not smart enough’.
Some days I would just sleep through the day. Once, I even told God that it’d be nice if I didn’t wake up at all..
身為學生，我從不失敗。我要成為班裡成績最好的學生、課外活動中要做表現最好的一位、在校園裡更是最受歡迎的同學，對我來說一切來得挺容易。我的成績很好，一向都獲得高分，同時我也是同學會的主席或副主席。一日當我對考試感到厭倦了，便選擇參加了第一次由“Astro”舉辦的選美比賽，就此成為了“馬來西亞小姐”，然後更成為了第一位馬來西亞人贏得國際級的選美比賽 － 我爸爸自豪地收集了《馬來西亞健力士世界大全》來印證。
在香港，我一次又一次的失敗，耶穌總是最好的老師！我去試鏡一次又一次的被人拒絕，就算找到工作也隨時失去，這時我學會了面對住屋租金的壓力、媒體亂寫的傳聞、還有最重要的 – 我的自尊心，我發現要接受自己失敗是很困難。過了不久，我公司關門大吉，我就失業了。我不敢告訴我的家人或朋友，心裡很害怕他們因為我不能發揮表現而不再愛我。我想：「那會有人愛原原本本的我？」
[For full post and Chinese translation, click to “Read More”//按“Read More”閱讀全文章及中文翻譯]
At my lowest point, I met a Christian brother who had just got baptised. I used to listen to his music with cassettes back in school. (CDs were more expensive.) This brother told me he got baptised by this hip hop Hollywood pastor who worked with Hollywood performers, F4, Korean pop stars, MC Hammer, MC Jin and other MCs. I was imagining him to be like 50 cent or Eminem – wearing chains, bling and gold teeth going “Yo!”
But the my Christian brother had looked so different from when I knew him before, he was literally radiating light! So I thought I’d give it a shot to try and meet this Hollywood pastor.
That day the hip hop pastor delivered a message that pierced through my heart. He told us artists, that the world only loves us for that we can do on stage. If we perform, they cheer and praise, if we fail, they forget about us. But our identity is not determined by our success or fame because our identity is in Christ, God, the Lord of the world. Nothing we do can make God love us less. God already deemed you worthy from the moment He thought of you, and He loves you just the way you are!
After the message, my friend introduced me to the hip hop pastor from LA. He didn’t know anything about me. I asked him if he could pray for me. I will never forget his prayer to God that day. He said,
Father, I lift up Rachel to you. I know that she’s so precious to you. God I know that she’s your princess so EVERY MORNING WHEN SHE WAKES UP, tell her that SHE’S GOOD ENOUGH, SHE’S TALENTED ENOUGH, BEAUTIFUL AND SMART ENOUGH. Rebuke the lies of the enemy from her head and let her wake up to You every single morning’.
When I heard this, I just cried and cried and cried. I went home to check the email I had just sent to my best friend the week before. In that email, I had said:
‘I am not good enough, not talented enough, not beautiful not smart enough’.
But there it was, coming out of the pastor’s mouth in prayer, word for word what I had just said to my friend. Oh, how He loves us.. oh how He loves. I told God “you really love me so much, You answered me so specifically, You keep chasing after me with relentless grace.”
I was baptised by that hip hop pastor, Jaeson Ma, on the 26 of November 2008. An artiste fellowship called Light Club was formed. In Light Club I met many brothers and sisters who love God and through God, love one another. I cannot over emphasize the importance of a fellowship. When one falls, the other picks them up and supports them. I met all these amazing people who understood me. Some I already knew through magazines and TV, and some I didn’t.
One woman in particular touched my heart. She was a famous VJ around 15-20 years ago. How many of you watch the sitcom FRIENDS? I grew up with it, so I am revealing my age. Did you know that FRIENDS was originally looking for an Asian face? This woman was the one originally cast for that role. But at the time, she didn’t take it because she believed the lies the enemy would whisper to her every morning – that she’s not good enough for Hollywood, that her fame would cause shame for the family and everything. Today, she does great things for God and is a proud mother and wife. She’s a spiritual mentor to countless people like me.
Since then, I’ve formed and led a new fellowship with my own friends and I am a Sunday school teacher. I’ve also interned with the law firm I had dreamed about since Cambridge. At the end of this month, I am supposed to play a small role in a Hollywood movie, and I have also been named an honorary ambassador for a foundation against human trafficking.
But this time it feels different because I know all these can be taken away. I have a job as a lawyer today, tomorrow I can get fired, or the director could call and say deal is off. As Pastor Jaeson succinctly puts it, happiness comes from the world, it can be taken away instantly, but JOY comes from knowing and loving God and being loved by God in return. Thank You God for blessing me with JOY which, no enemy can kill, steal or destroy.
However, I don’t want to conclude with a ‘happily ever after ending’ because that’s not going to happen here on earth. Just last week, when I decided to give this testimony, the offer from my dream law firm which I had thought was fully secured was taken from me suddenly and without warning. Life is not perfect. I get sick, I miss my family, I sometimes have negative thoughts in the morning. But in Hong Kong, I learnt the most important lesson about failure.
My favourite song in the world is by Matt Redman which goes,
“You give and take away, you give and take away. My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name”.
Whenever I face failure, I praise God until I silent the negative voices.
‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)
In return for trusting Him, God has given me the best gift I have ever received in my life. It’s not a crown, a degree or a job. Today, my entire family is getting baptised- My father, mother, sister and 2 yr old niece! I wouldn’t exchange them for the world. They have always been there supporting me. Like God, they are the ones who love me just the way I am.
Thank You God for blessing my family with this eternal gift of life. Jesus, You never promised us easy lives as Christians but You promised that You will never leave us or forsake us and that You will walk with us for the rest of our lives. That is the greatest honour of all. I would rather live one day in Your presence than a thousand elsewhere. Thank you Jesus! Amen!
當我經歷人生低潮時，認識了一位剛剛接受施浸洗禮的弟兄，他的音樂錄音帶更是我讀書時在聽的（當時CD比較貴）。這位弟兄告訴我給他施浸洗禮的是一位跟好萊塢演出者們、F4、韓國歌星們、MC Hammer、MC Jin、還有其他MC合作的牧師。他在我的想像中就似50 cent或Eminem － 帶閃耀的項鍊，還有金牙，不停的 ‘YO’ ！但是現實這位弟兄跟以前毫不一樣，現在的他好像發著光！那我就決定試一試，去認識這位好萊塢牧師。
同一天這位 ‘嘻哈’ 牧師發出的訊息打穿了我的心。他告訴我們：「身為藝人，這世界只為我們在台上能做的而愛我們。我們表演，他們歡呼讚美；我們失敗，他們便忘記我們。不過，我們的身份不是由我們的成就或知名度來斷定的，因為我們的身份來自基督、神、世界之主，我們做任何東西也不能將祂對我們的愛減少。祂想起我們那一刻、祂已斷定了我們配得，祂愛的是原原本本的你！」
2008年11月26日這位 ‘嘻哈’ 牧師馬正遠給我施浸洗禮，然後一個名為 ‘Light Club’ 的藝人團契就組成了。在Light Club我認識了很多愛神及讓神透過我們去愛大家的弟兄姊妹，我不會強調一個團契有多重要，但當任何一個人跌倒，其他人便會來扶持他。在這裡我認識了很多明白我的人，有些我從雜誌和電視中已經認識，有些不是。
從此，我跟朋友組成及帶領新的團契，並且是主日學的導師。在劍橋畢業後我在理想中的律師行實習過，這一個月底我也會在一套好萊塢電影飾演一個小角色，我更被命名為一個反對人口販賣機構的榮譽大使。不過這次感覺不同，因為我已經知道這一切都可以被取去。今日我是一位律師，明天我可以被開除，導演也可以說角色不用我演。就如馬正遠牧師精確的說：「 ‘快樂’ 是由世界所賜的，隨時能被取去；不過 ‘喜悅’ 是從認識神和愛神，及被神愛而來的。感謝神給我 ‘喜悅’ 這份祝福，這是仇敵不能抹殺、偷取、或毀壞的。」