‘God Would Never Let Me Go.’

A young adult in Australia shares how the Lord led through her spiritual ups and downs.

Minh Templonuevo, with Sandra Lehn, Adventist Record
‘God Would Never Let Me Go.’
[Photo: Marinela Malcheva]

The day of my baptism was the happiest day of my life. I had attended an evangelistic crusade in 2004 held by an independent Adventist ministry. During the next four years, my husband and I met many loving Christians and made many friends who I considered family. My church life and Christian growth was, as I thought, phenomenal. Going to church and fellowshipping was everything to me. 

But then problems started occurring, and cracks in the ministry began to appear. I was very lost and confused. I was in denial about some of the things that were happening within the leadership. I thought to myself, “God has led me here . . . my spiritual life is the best it has ever been . . . why is this happening?”

When the independent ministry fell apart and everyone disbanded, I was very upset. I didn’t know what that would mean for me. I had gone from feeling a sense of belonging and safety to feeling lost all over again. 

My husband and I attended other Adventist churches, but gradually we just stopped. God had been leading me on a wonderful journey from the time I was a child until now. What had happened, and what was going to become of me and my family? Where was God?

Strong Faith as a Child

Growing up, I was raised by a Catholic mother and a Buddhist father and baptized as an infant into the Roman Catholic Church. My dear mom did a fine job of instilling into my siblings and me a strong faith and belief in God. I was taught to pray, and from a very young age I remember Christian books in our home, particularly Bible picture storybooks, which I loved to read.

Although my dad was very much into his Buddhist beliefs, I was never forced to go to the temple or be involved in Buddhist rites, so I have never embraced Buddhism.

My faith was strong as a child. As I entered high school, my beliefs were challenged. I was associating with friends who were non-Christian, and I became rebellious. It didn’t help that Mom and Dad had separated. I began to investigate astrology and started questioning my belief system and Christianity. I wanted to know why I was brought into this world; what my purpose was; why there was so much suffering in the world. I did not find my Catholic faith to be reassuring of salvation. I remember learning in Scripture classes that we had to be like Mother Teresa to go straight to heaven. I doubted I would ever be a woman of great faith and works as she had been. 

My teenage years were very difficult. My family had stopped going to church, and I was doing a lot of things that many young people think are cool, but I was spiraling out of control. I was hurting myself and my family, and most of all I was hurting God. I felt He had rejected me because of my lifestyle and that He was condemning me. I had so many questions, but I didn’t know where to look for answers.

It’s no wonder the Bible says, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth” (Eccl. 12:1, NKJV). If I had followed that counsel, it would have saved me so much heartache.

Minh Templonuevo. [Photo: courtesy of Minh Templonuevo]

My younger brother became interested in Seventh-day Adventism and began to make changes in his life. He was 15 and I was 17. Some school friends had invited him to a seminar on prophecy, and out of curiosity he went along. 

As you may know, little brothers can sometimes be obnoxious and unpleasant, but I noticed that his attitude was changing, and he became nicer and kinder to be around. I was very surprised. My mom told me he had become a Seventh-day Adventist. He began going to church on Saturdays, and he changed his diet to a plant-based diet and tried to tell me not to eat unclean foods, which I thought was ridiculous. I thought he had joined a cult.

I was 18 and spent a lot of time partying and doing things that were supposed to make me happy but were leaving me empty. I would lie in bed at night and think about why I was put on this earth and what would happen after I died. The thought of death really disturbed me, and I began to develop anxiety about dying, even to the point of being scared to cross the road in case I was hit by a car.

The turning point came for me when one night, my brother came into my room and asked if I would like to talk about the Bible. In the past, when he tried to talk religion, I rejected him, because I was not ready, since my faith in God was almost non-existent and my lifestyle was anti-Christian. Now, for some reason, I was ready. I was curious. We stayed up talking until the early hours of the morning, talking about heaven, salvation, and Jesus. What happens when we die? The second coming of Christ? These were questions I had always wanted answered, and he showed me answers from the Bible. 

The next morning, I woke up feeling a joy and peace in my heart that I had never felt before. I felt loved. The feeling of knowing that God loves you, has forgiven you, chosen you, and cares about you is an inexplicable feeling. I remember getting down on my knees and for the very first time I poured my heart out to God, asking for forgiveness. I thanked Him for His goodness and mercy, and that He had led me to the truth. It was a wonderful feeling, and I remember it to this day.

A few months later, I attended a seminar on Armageddon and joined the independent church that I mentioned earlier. By that time, I had married and had a baby on the way. After the church disbanded, my husband and I felt like castaways. We needed a firm anchor, and although we attended various Adventist churches, we could not settle into any of them. The next several years were very unsettling. In my heart I believed in the Adventist message, but after a while we began to slip into our old ways. We stopped keeping the Sabbath. Old habits resurfaced. Things that we previously saw as sinful and wrong eventually seemed OK and not as bad.

God Never Gives Up

Fourteen years passed, and God never gave up on us. In 2021, we experienced the lockdown due to COVID-19. That time was traumatic and a very dark period for me. I cried a lot and prayed more than ever before. I wish it didn’t take trials and difficulties for me to turn to God, but that’s what tends to happen. You realize that without God, you are nothing and you cannot do anything.

I felt the need to go back to church. I felt God was leading me very strongly in that direction, and that now was the time. “Do not delay.”

I had met Andrew and Kim Russell when they attended the same seminar as I had back in 2004, and since that time Andrew had become a minister. I reached out to Andrew, not knowing that he had been appointed as the pastor at the Hoxton Park Seventh-day Adventist Church in New South Wales, Australia, just 10 minutes’ drive from my home. We attended the church in November 2021. The church family were warm and inviting and have received us with open arms. I feel as though I have come home. Hoxton Park church is my safe haven and my second home.

God is faithful. He is long-suffering and forgiving. Despite my shortcomings and my struggles in my Christian walk, He has never ever forsaken me or my family. He continues to provide for us. He answers my prayers. He guides me and shows me what direction to take when I’m feeling lost. I can rest assured that He is with me always and will never leave me or forsake me. 

What a wonderful God we serve!

The original version of this story was posted by Adventist Record. Minh Templonuevo wrote this article in collaboration with Sandra Lehn, Hoxton Park church communication officer.

Minh Templonuevo, with Sandra Lehn, Adventist Record