Theresa and her daughters at their baptism. From left to right: Pastor Joel Scheiwe, David Lovelin, Ruby Lovelin, Theresa Lovelin, Luci Lovelin, Tina Jablonski (David's mother), and Megan Godek (Luci and Ruby's godmother)
I grew up in the U.S. in a non-Christian household. I had multiple opportunities to go to church and join religious youth groups and always respected people who had faith in their lives. I even felt envious of them. I knew there was something bigger than myself, but didn’t quite understand that faith could apply to me as well.
I met Dave, my now husband, who was raised Lutheran and went to church growing up. In college, where we met, Dave had stopped going to church and was essentially a non-practicing Christian. We got married, started our lives together, and eventually moved to Korea to teach internationally.
It was August 2016 when our younger daughter Ruby got really sick. So sick that we weren’t sure she was going to make it. We were taking shifts at the hospital and the community at Korean International School really helped us. Dave shared with me a week after Ruby got out of the hospital that he prayed for the first time in a very long time. He told God he would renew his faith if He could please help Ruby. And He did.
At that point, I was really open to bringing faith into our lives. That fall, the HKIS job was posted, and it was like we were called to come here. We learned HKIS was a faith-based school, and Dave was inspired by that. The door was wide open for us, and it seemed God was ready to bring him back. When we got to Hong Kong, Dave started attending the Church of All Nations (CAN). I, however, was so nervous about being there because I knew nothing and felt really intimidated by all these people who knew about God. I felt embarrassed. I’m 30, how could I know nothing?
I have to say that Pastor Joel and the CAN community were so welcoming. They showed me it wasn’t about knowing everything, but it was about being there and learning. It doesn’t matter what age you are, there is always an opportunity to explore your faith. That really gave me peace of mind, and I started to get over myself and settle in.
"It doesn’t matter what age you are, there is always an opportunity to explore your faith. "
I started listening to the sermon with a different ear. I would cry every time I went to church because the messages resonated with me so much. In October 2019, I decided it was time for me and my daughters to be baptized. It was really special. I felt like this was the start of something new in my faith journey.
Then Covid happened and church became really challenging. It was then that I was invited to take part in the Red Letter Challenge with 5-6 other women over Zoom. I felt super nervous again because we were all at different places in our faith journey, and I was definitely bringing up the rear. But the women were so gracious in tolerating my questions, and I learned so much. That was one of the best things for me during the Covid pandemic.
I love the program in the HKIS Primary School, where they have an exploration of faith and kids get a basic knowledge of other faiths. I want my kids to have faith and believe in something bigger than themselves. They’ve chosen Jesus, and I want to be an example for them. I want my kids to see me read the bible and pray and practice my faith. We need to be able to show our kids that.
Next year, God is moving us to a country that is predominantly Muslim in faith. When we get to Jakarta, we plan to stream CAN services and open our home to people in our community until we can find a place to worship. Ironically, I now feel more confident in going to a new place because I have Jesus. I can pray and I’m never alone.
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