Growing up, Gerhardine attended cult meetings, and experienced frequent spiritual attacks. It was only when she attended Alpha that she truly encountered God; the One with the power to set her free.
I believe that the seeds of Christianity were sown in me long before I was even aware. Before I was born, my parents were childless for eight years. They prayed to many gods, and even started attending a Catholic church, where they prayed to St Gerard, the patron saint of mothers and children. Their promise was that if God granted them a child, they would name the child after the Saint. Not long after, I was conceived and named accordingly.
Subsequently, my parents enrolled me in a Christian kindergarten. I also attended mission schools in my primary school and junior college years. I was surrounded by many Christian friends who would actively invite me to their churches and events.
However, my parents stopped attending church and joined a cult. I was brought up to believe in a little-known religion that originated in East Asia. Surrounded by the teachings of this spiritual organisation from young, I fully believed in it and lived my life thinking that it taught the truth. One of its teachings was that Jesus did not die on the cross, but had instead secretly carried on living in East Asia. He was also believed to have a line of descendants.
I had basic knowledge of the Christian faith – I knew that Jesus dying on the cross for our sins formed the crux of Christianity. However, this contrasted drastically with the beliefs of cult, which caused me to think that Christians were nice but misguided people. Despite attending Methodist schools and having a group of Christian friends, I never felt ‘touched’ by the Holy Spirit. I was very resistant to the idea of becoming a Christian.
Following the beliefs of this cult also opened a door for evil spirits to enter my life. From the age of fifteen, I began to suffer from repeated spiritual attacks. The first occurrence happened while I was on an overseas pilgrimage with my family to a religious site, where my hands started to tremble uncontrollably. After this first incident, such attacks became a frequent occurrence, most often when I felt depressed, angry, fatigued or hungry. Sometimes, it would even cause me to dance around like a ballerina. I could always feel the unsettling presence of evil spirits, and I never felt at peace. I was taught by the cult that it was a good thing to have such manifestations happen to me. This was a terrible bondage that I thought I would have to live with for the rest of my life.
Over the years, I drifted away from the religion, particularly after I travelled overseas to study. When I returned to Singapore, I started attending church with a friend, but only as a companion. Soon after, I felt a desire for a religious presence in my life and signed up for Alpha.
After a couple of Alpha sessions, I still had grievances about the Christian faith. Although I was quite open to Christianity, as I had already been exposed to it, I was still averse to many of its teachings because of what I was taught by the cult. I found it hard to believe that someone else could die for my sins. It sounded too good to be true and I could not accept that believing in Christ would absolve me from my sins. The cult taught us about karma and retribution, and I wondered how there could be something as good as this, offered freely to anyone who would accept it. Despite my doubts and questions, my Alpha group facilitator, Carole, was very kind and took the time to meet me personally to talk. However, it still felt like there was a psychological obstruction preventing me from accepting Christ.
Over the course of the Alpha run, I was in limbo about accepting the Christian faith. This continued until one day at work, when I started feeling very disturbed. I could feel the manifestations of a spiritual attack, and I struggled to make it through the day. After work, I met with a friend who prayed for me. However, the more he prayed, the worse the attack became. Soon, I was keeled over in my seat retching. My body tensed up as I fought against the increasingly strong manifestations that were overcoming me.
The attack became so severe that out of desperation, I started to pray along with my friend in my mind, inviting the Holy Spirit to help me. My friend asked the Holy Spirit to cast out the demons in me and for them to never come back. I prayed, “Jesus, if you are real, please save me from this”. With those words, the nausea instantly vanished, I sat back in my seat upright, and all the horrible feelings disappeared. For the first time in my life, I felt absolute peace.
I was amazed by this experience. The power of the Holy Spirit had been revealed to me. I realised that what Carole had told me was true – if I accepted Him, the demonic spirits would be gone. Demonstrating His power so undeniably was God’s way of showing a sceptic like me what the truth was. That night I said the sinner’s prayer, and since that day of my miraculous deliverance, I have known Jesus to be my one and only true Saviour.
Alpha was the framework that enabled all of this to happen and it had the materials to help me as I grew in my faith. Carole was also instrumental in my journey. She was patient in listening to my struggles and discipled me post-Alpha, helping me to renounce my ties with the cult. I was thankful to have someone to journey with me through that process.
After my transformational experience, I joined a small group and then signed up for a Baptism and Membership class. I was baptised on 16th July 2009. I then decided to join Alpha as a facilitator, as I wanted to help people who were seeking.
In 2012, I decided to go on a sabbatical and enrolled myself in Arrows College for a three-month course in Australia. As the course was coming to an end, I realised that there was an opportunity to serve at Wesley Methodist Church as a Programme Coordinator. I made the decision to leave my banking job and applied for the position. Upon returning to Singapore, I received news that my application was successful. I then served full time in church for almost two years, before pursuing a Degree in Theology at Trinity Theological College. Today, I continue to serve full time in Wesley!
In the ten years before I accepted Christ, I was taught that I had to keep accumulating good deeds while being subject to spiritual oppression and attacks. However, no matter how many good deeds I achieved, these attacks did not cease. Yet with a simple prayer, they ended once and for all. Only the One true God can be this powerful!