I know what I have believed
Creation allowed this engineer turned pastor to be confident in the Gospel
Mark Emerson chats with Pastor Victor Soo about the impact of creation on his life
It is hard to think of a more radical change in a life journey than that of Victor Soo. Born in Malaysia, his father was a cultural Taoist, who believed in a multitude of gods, but never went to the temple. Although his mother had some Christian influence, she never went to church and never took Victor there. So, religion meant nothing for him.
But now, Victor is the Senior Pastor of Reach Community Church, Melbourne, Australia. Along with Crystal, his wife of 43 years, he founded the church 20 years ago, in 2002. How did this huge change happen?
What religion are you?
Victor remembers his primary school years:
On the first day of class, when the teacher called your name for the roll book, you would have to stand and say, “Present!” Then they would ask for your religion. I would always reply with “None”. Every year we went through this.
As someone practical who wanted to understand things, Victor one day started asking other students what they believed. He said:
Most responded with “Don’t know”. Others said “Islam”, “Buddhist”, “Hindu”, and the like. But when I asked them questions about their beliefs, they didn’t know what they believed. I felt that if I ever believed in a religion. I would make sure I knew what I believed in.
Over the years, Victor encountered different religions as he experienced life in Malaysia. He visited temples with friends, but rarely. Victor said:
I didn’t see followers of Hinduism or Buddhism living out their beliefs. And I was surprised that my father believed his religion endorsed gambling. My mother was also into gambling.
As he grew up, Victor encountered many spiritual manifestations, and so was convinced there was a spiritual realm. Victor recalls one that involved the worship of the ‘monkey god’ where its spirit was summoned by the medium who went into a trance, sometimes performing ‘superhuman’ physical feats. Others involved devotees praying to a god for the courage to fight, conjuring the dead, and piercing themselves as they walked over burning coals. But it didn’t make sense. Victor said, “In my heart I questioned the purposes of these rituals. And why did they project an atmosphere of fear?”
Victor said, “I also remember attending church at Christmas, and memorial services for Christian relatives.” When he was a teenager, a neighbour invited Victor to church.
I saw how well people related with one another. There was great warmth and friendliness. I enjoyed the singing. I felt the tranquility, like it was a place where I could belong and be myself. I felt comfortable and safe.
Another time he attended a Christian rally at a stadium and saw people being healed and ‘walking out of’ the crutches they had come on.
As Victor grew up, he gained an affinity for Christianity. “I believed the story of Jesus was more credible,” he said. But life moved on and he busied himself with other issues.
A new country
In the 1970s Victor came to Australia to seek a new life, education, and prosperity. He completed a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, a Certificate in Fluid Power Technology, and a Diploma in Theology. In his career as an engineer, Victor designed many solutions to complex manufacturing problems, both in the automotive and mining industries. He was very successful. He designed and patented a world-first Australian-Standard-approved residential smoke alarm (above) that can interface with commercial alarm systems. This item is still in production for the global market. He developed a unique system to troubleshoot the wiring and plumbing systems for engineering equipment. It saved the company he worked for much time and money. He also designed the facility and systems for the company’s training department. The extensive curriculum he wrote gained the approval of the Victorian State Training Board for Industrial Automation. Annually, he also presented to final-year mechanical engineering students on the latest advancements in manufacturing technologies.
Despite this success, Victor did not find fulfillment. Early in his career he would spend his weekends looking for pleasure. He would frequent the snooker parlours and McDonalds, play pinball for beers, smoke, drink, and gamble at mahjong. Victor said, “I felt my life was very boring. I did not find satisfaction, and I started thinking about the purpose of life.”
His turning point came when he met a Christian friend. Victor surprised his friend by asking if he could go with him to church. There, Victor again felt the love of the people, as at the church when he was young.
A new life
A person I talked with at church explained to me that all other religions are striving to get closer to God, to find the good life, and get to heaven. This person explained that in Jesus it was the opposite. God is reaching out to us. These conversations really impacted me.
He told me how Jesus was God, and how He came from heaven as a man to save us. I learned that Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross, so we could receive eternal life. I was amazed to learn that Jesus died according to prophecy in the Bible, and that He rose from the dead just as the Scriptures said He would.
By the fifth week of attending church Victor received Christ. John 3:16 impacted him: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
This really touched me. I felt this love of God for me very personally, and sensed I was now a new person. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t understand much else about what had happened, only that God’s love touched me deeply and profoundly.
This had an immediate impact. When he went home, he told his wife Crystal, for the first time, “I love you!” In his culture you just didn’t do that! From the day he came to know the Lord Jesus Christ, Victor wrote weekly to his family. In each letter he would summarize the sermon he heard. He also made very expensive international phone calls to them. When he told his mother he had become a Christian, and that he loved her, she thought he was on drugs. God’s power continually renewed him.
The life transformation was so evident that it moved his wife, a Taoist at the time, to also commit her life to Jesus. Since that time, Victor has led his mother, and also his two brothers, to Christ. Victor and his wife now have three children and six grandchildren.
Confronted with creation
Not long after he came to Christ, Victor learned about creation, how God created the world. It’s in the Bible at the very beginning!
Prior to that, I had never heard about God creating the world. All through school I was taught only one story about the origin and development of life, and that was evolution. I just accepted it as being true. I assumed there was lots of evidence for evolution, so I never questioned what I was taught. The idea that God created was new to me.
From his career in engineering, it was obvious to Victor that things do not make themselves or get better through random chance.
I knew from experience that all systems need intelligence, forethought, and design. I knew that vast amounts of time will not create or improve anything. I could see that living things point to creation because of their amazing complexity, requiring myriads of precise parts to be present all at the same time. I realized this is something that blind, random chance simply cannot achieve.
But how did God create? When Victor read Genesis and the genealogies in Matthew and Luke, he found the answer. It all made sense. Understanding creation gave him much confidence in Christ.
Because of his decision in his youth to have reasons for what he believed, he consumed everything Christian, including on creation. Now he could defend his faith.
Continuing to read widely, he grew as a Christian, often attending seminars including by Creation Ministries International (CMI). It became clear to Victor that evolution, which he had previously accepted, was based on lies and deception. He said:
I was amazed to discover that the Old Testament points to Jesus as the promised Messiah. It makes sense of who Jesus is and what He came to do. Not only have I been pardoned of my sins, but I have been created for a purpose. Without God I’m a mere accident!
A new passion
As he grew in the faith, Victor became passionately involved in Christian ministry, helping to establish churches, preaching and leading Bible study groups. When his engineering company offered him an international promotion, he realized there was something more important for him to pursue. That led him to full-time service and the planting of his current church.
Pastor Soo realizes the importance of laying a strong foundation with Christian ministry. He pointed out,
We know that the Bible is true, and that all the events it records really happened. However, people today have many questions that come from the evolutionary teaching in our culture. We can’t just say, ‘The Bible says …’. In today’s evolution-indoctrinated society, we need to answer the challenges. We need to show why the evolutionary story is not correct and how the Bible explains the empirical evidence. Our approach, as with 1 Peter 3:15, is to present truth with confidence and in love, not so much to win arguments but to keep friends and lead them to Christ.”
That’s why Pastor Soo passionately begins with creation. “I strongly believe churches need to complement all children and youth programs with the foundational truths of biblical creation.” His church developed an interactive school holiday (vacation) program catering for children from 3 to 12 years, so they understand creation. Pastor Soo described the program further:
Primary-aged children transitioning to youth groups are encouraged to participate in a program that runs for a semester, covering creation and the foundations of Christianity. We find that this combination of theology to faith, and creation to fact is a wonderful platform as young people commence their secondary education and as they move into their future.
During school holidays, the church library displays and promotes creation materials, exclusively from CMI.
What a radical change has occurred in Victor Soo’s life! With little to no knowledge of God he began to learn about God through Christian friends who invited him to church. After coming to Christ his faith was strengthened by a growing confidence in Genesis creation. His family has been transformed. Thousands of people have been blessed through his ministry in Melbourne, Myanmar, and the Philippines. And Pastor Soo now readily testifies that “I know what I have believed.”