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"O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together."
Psalm 34:3
Ivan and May
Ivan Name: Ivan Yuen-Ho Yong
Ethnicity: Chinese
Parents: Tony and Jade
Siblings: Rozlynn, Jeremy and Melanie (sister-in-law)
High School: University High School, Irvine
College: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Major: Economics
Seminary: Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS)
Major: Master of Theology
Occupation: Student
Ivan’s Testimony of Saving Faith

Not all faiths in Christian truths are saving faiths. I myself can remember having religious faith since an early age. However, I would be lying if I described the faith of my youth as a saving faith. My faith sometimes included faith in the existence of such things as God, Jesus as God’s Son, Heaven, Hell, Satan, and even my own sin; but at other times, I was not sure about their existence, and did not even care to wonder about them. At best they were disconnected statistical probabilities with little personal relevance, and at worst they were farcical distractions from my “real-world” goals.

Later, in college, I realized that my religious faith was not a saving faith. After all, even demons believe in the same things that I believed in – the existence of God, Jesus as God’s Son, Heaven, Hell, Satan, and probably their own sin! Faith in these truths as personally irrelevant facts is not a saving faith. I learned that saving faith requires a very personal belief that God specifically reconciled me to Himself by forgiving my sin through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. This was a truth I had heard frequently in my youth but not truly believed until the age of 20.

My saving faith in Jesus Christ began with a humble repentance of my sin before a holy God. I was humbled that all of my wrongdoings offended Him and made me worthy of an eternal punishment in Hell, because God hates sin. And we are all sinners, both because we commit sins and because we are born with a sinful nature inherited from the original Fall of Man. This sin damns all of mankind to the same just condemnation. In my youth, I did realize that all men were sinful, but I did not truly repent of my own sin. I could point to the sins of others and recognize my own wrongdoings, but I did not recognize the great offenses to God that they were. Without this understanding, saving faith is not possible. Saving faith is possible only for those who recognize their sins against a holy God and cry out to Him in repentance.

My saving faith also includes my claim to forgiveness before a just God. I needed to realize that Jesus Christ’s death provided redemption not only for mankind, but also specifically for me. It brought me forgiveness and peace with God over my sin, even though I did nothing to merit it and I only deserved His wrath. God sent His Son to live a perfectly righteous life, to die on the cross, and to rise again. In doing so, He bestowed that very righteousness of His life on me and made me acceptable to God. He took the penalty of my sins upon Himself and suffered the wrath of God on the cross in my place. So, because of the work of Jesus Christ, God sees the penalty of my sin paid and the righteous perfection of Christ in me. These facts I recognized when young, but they did not hold any personal importance or relevance until I was deeply convicted of my sin and personally laid claim to the forgiveness God offers through His Son Jesus Christ. Without personally laying claim to forgiveness in Christ, saving faith is not possible. Saving faith is possible only for those who personally lay claim to righteousness in Christ and cry out to a just God for forgiveness.

As a result of my saving faith, God has taken up residence in me in the form of the Holy Spirit and is continually teaching me to love Him and others, to cultivate both the Fruit of the Spirit and my spiritual gifts, and to serve Him from the heart. It is a natural result of my saving faith to continue humbly repenting over my sin, to claim forgiveness and righteousness in the name of Christ, to turn from evil thoughts and deeds, and to walk in the Spirit. I by no means live a perfect, sinless life, but by His power I now live a life committed to glorifying Him instead of myself. All glory be unto God!

May Name: May Nathaporn Yong
Ethnicity: 1/8 Thai and 7/8 Chinese
Parents: Mark and Sue
Siblings: Eve, Ann and Jose (brother-in-law)
High School: Canyon High School, Anaheim Hills
College: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Major: English
Occupation: Mommy and Paralegal
May’s Testimony

The Journey of Hope
Mom and Dad spent their childhood growing up in Thailand in poor families with little education. They toiled and labored for the chance at a new life, a fresh start, and the American Dream. Two years after I was born, my family made the journey to the United States and their dream came true. Just setting foot in this country opened a door of grand opportunities and a life for their children that would be completely different from the one they once knew.

A Childhood of Roses
Toiling long days and many nights, my parents worked hard to provide me and my sisters with everything we needed. My childhood brings back memories of careless summer days and plenty of friends to play with. With little to worry about, my life revolved around good morals and high achievement. I worked hard to please my parents and give them something to brag about to our relatives. I became known for academics and awards, and I learned that these accolades were my ticket to a successful life down the road. I learned to live for myself, according to my own principles of morality, and never questioned any other way of life. My parents prepared me well to live independently and not just survive, but excel, in the world. My family swore by a moral code that embraced kinship, money, pride and hard work. There was one thing, however, that I would have to discover on my own, and that was God. Growing up in a non-Christian family, the concept of God never entered our conversations. But the Lord had other plans for me.

The Quest for Meaning
By my senior year of high school, I thought that life couldn’t get any better. I was living in an affluent community, attending school with loving friends, and receiving or achieving everything I set my heart upon. I thought that there was nothing else in this world that I could possibly want, and I was right. I wanted something not of this world. Thus, the Lord began to tug at my heart.

God chose that wonderful year to plant a life-changing question in my head: What was the purpose and meaning of my self-centered life? Why do I exist and why do I exist here and now? Where do I fit in the big scheme of history? Where am I going in this carefully planned-out life of mine? I turned to religion to find an answer from the wisdom of philosophers bigger than me. I first looked to Buddha because my family claimed to be Buddhist. Buddha offered me an endless cycle of being a good person and achieving good things - something I already knew. But he didn't offer me a purpose in life. He didn't fill the empty place in my heart that couldn't be filled with good deeds, money, fame, or success. Something told me, "No, there's more to life, there's truth to be found."

In God's sovereign plan, I was invited to a Christian youth group meeting. Each Friday night I heard messages and sang praises to a person named Jesus Christ and learned more and more about Him. I was given a book called Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and through that book, the Lord brought me to an intellectual knowledge of Himself. After accepting all of the teachings about God and Jesus Christ, a friend led me in the prayer to accept Jesus into my heart. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing, and was quite shocked when my friend excitedly told me, “You’re a Christian!” “I am?” I said, half confused and half not wanting to disappoint my friend. The next Sunday was my very first day at church. It was Easter Sunday, 1994.

A New Beginning
At that point, I didn’t realize the impact of Christ in my life, but God faithfully guided me with the truth of His Word, the Bible. It was during my freshman year at UCLA that God softened my heart and made me realize that Christianity is not merely an addition to one’s life. It is a new life. I finally understood the beauty and necessity of the gospel message. With pride and selfish desires governing my heart and attitude, I was constantly sinning against a holy and righteous God. There was nothing that I could ever do to achieve God’s standard of complete holiness. But in His abundant love, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for my sins and those of the whole world, so that all who believe in Him may not perish, but have eternal life. God desires for all men to be saved and He has already provided the way. The simplicity of this message could only result in one response, complete submission to the Lord.

The Time is Now
I had spent 18 years of my life living to glorify myself and, in a few months, God completely turned my life around. The more I see of my own sin, the more God’s mercy and grace bring joy and peace to my soul. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I now live to glorify God. There is nothing sweeter in this life than knowing the complete forgiveness we have through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is such a joy to serve our living God, to obey His Word and to share that truth with others. I stand today with great joy and thanksgiving, holding fast to a hope that will never fade nor disappoint. We, who are children of God, love, serve and worship a truly awesome God.


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