Newsletter October, 2001



During my junior high year, I saw a movie entitled "A better tomorrow". Actor Chow Yun-Fat played the role of a loyal mobster. In one scene, he was beaten up by another gangsters, who asked him "Do you believe in God?" He replied, "I do and I am God. Whoever controls his own destiny is God." The idea made me think hard. Controlling one's destiny? What did that mean? As a young schoolboy, I thought of being a student with good grades.

From then on, whenever I finished a school examination, I would go to a temple in Beijing, asking all the idols for good grades, and I did fairly well. From high school to college, then to graduate school, taking TOFEL and GRE, all went well. Yet, my heart yearned for answers to two questions: 1. Are the gods in the temple real? 2. What is the purpose of life? I was especially troubled by the second question.

I had been thinking and thinking: it looked perhaps filial devotion to my parents should be the purpose of my life. My parents brought me up and in order to repay them, I had to provide a comfort life for them. So I thought I should make money, lots of them. At that time, I traveled on business often. When I flew, I would always purchase a $200K accident insurance. But when the plane landed safely, I would be overwhelmed with disappointment. Had there been a crash, my parents would have gotten the money which I would never be able to make for the rest of my life.

Then I came to the United States, far away from home. I could not devote to my parents, and the sense of purposeless engulfed me again. It was not easy to be a foreign student here alone, especially when it came to food. Back home, my parents took care of me, but here I have to do everything by myself. I constantly asked myself what I was going to eat. Very often, I had to work till one or two o'clock in the morning and I got very hungry and could not stop thinking about food. The night before my parents came to visit me from China, I told my office-mates as I left for home that I was really hungry. They asked if I had food at home. I said no, but "tomorrow night I would have", because my parents would be with me!

This kind of life is tasteless and purposeless. I did not know why I was living. When I first came to the States, I was invited to attend church but I told them about my Buddism belief. Actually, Buddism had not been much help at all; it did not provide a solution. I observed my Christian friends, who seemed to live a meaningful life with joy. Brother Lee and his wife, with their smiling faces, helped not only me but also my girlfriend. There had to be something positive in what they believed. I started to attend Bible study and read the Bible. There were two scriptures that had profound effects on me:

  1. "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:8)
  2. "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap... And yet your heavenly Father feeds them... See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin..." (Matthew 6:26,28)

Life is not meaningless. There exists an omnipotent God who created heavens and the earth. He loves the world, but because of the lack of a good relationship with Him, our life becomes weary and burdensome. If we accept Christ, then our yoke will become light and life will have purpose and become satisfying. I remember my principal once said that happiness was short-lived and sadness is forever. Since I accepted Christ, even when I was facing trials, I still have my peace and joy.

In August I went to the Midwest for a missionary trip. Before the trip I have already been learning a lot but I have never put them into practice. Only until I talked to people about the good news was I able to fully understand the teachings. The Sunday before I left, Brother Ting told me that God would give us a lot of examinations and the only purpose of the examinations was to help us grow. This missionary trip was an examination to me, but it was a great help to me. Our audience was students from mainland China. Some of them were indoctrinated by Communism, and I thought that they might not be friendly to Christians like us. After the plane landed, we went straight to the church and the campus, where we greeted Chinese, telling them about Christianity and inviting them to evening activities at church. During the ten-day trip, I met a lot of friendly people. It was a perfect opportunity to spread the good news to people who had thoughts about religion. God has opened the door, and it is time for us to do something for our Lord. (Rao)

It has been 13 months since I came to the United States. I was baptized on Thanksgiving Day last year. Actually I accepted Christ three months after I came to America. A lot of my friends were surprised, even questioning if I was too naive and gullible.

It is difficult to say why I accepted Christ so quickly but I knew that I truly had faith in Christ. People said it was so soon, because they were thinking that I was in American for short 3 months. But actually, it had been in my heart for quite a while - some twenty odd years.

Before I came, I heard about Jesus and Christanity as one of the mainstream religions in the world. But it had nothing to do with me. Becoming a Christian was not something I would ever have imagined. Actually I was leaning towards Buddism, even though I had never accepted Budda, Siddhartha Gautama. I believed that all those religious people were kind and devoted but, like I said, they had nothing to do with me. As long as I followed my conscience, I would be fine.

Nonetheless, I truly believed there was a God. But I had no idea what the God looked like, and what kind of relationship to have with Him. From a lot of fairy tales, folk tales, myths and legends, it looked like there were a lot of gods. They managed different things, like there were gods of flowers, gods of kitchens, gods from the Greek myths, all managing and controlling something. So when people told me about this Jesus, surely another god who controlled you Christians. There were times that I felt helpless, I would cry for help to the god who supposed to reign over me.

When I walked past temples, I saw people worship gods sincerely. I was curious what would happen if I happened to worship the wrong god. Would the god that has reign over me be mad? So there had to be a God who was above all and I would like this God to have control over me. But I did not know who this God was.

I was invited to the family fellowship at Brother Lee's house. There were a few students like myself who were not exposed to Chrisitanity. We were given questionnaire to answer. Some of the questions made no sense, like "Is Jesus son of God?" If Jesus is God, then how he could be the son of God. Out of politeness, I picked one out: "Righteous man has everlasting life."

Even though I did not understand but it marked in my heart that I needed to find out what Christinaity was. I started going to Sunday worship and Bible study.

One morning, while the congregation was singing the hymn "I know who holds tomorrow", it struck me that I truly did not know who holds tomorrow. It would be nice to know, though the answer needed not be Jesus. As there were many nations on earth, there should be as many gods in heaven and Jesus would be the god of Chrisitians. Was I his sheep?

About this time last year, my roommate and I attended a church retreat. I was debating with a Christian brother. He challenged, "I cannot convince you but since you think believing Jesus is a good thing, why don't you say a prayer?" I asked "You think He would listen?" He said "Try. You seem to know quite a bit about Christianity. You say Jesus is one of the many gods and I say He is the only one. It is about time for you to try!" I did pray. That night, I felt God was with me. After I accepted Christ, I heard brothers and sisters say that when you were young in faith, God would give whatever you ask. Thank you God, I tried and it was true.

After the retreat, I developed the habit of praying. Even though all my prayers were answered but I was more amazed than having a true faith in this God. Through more Bible studies, more discussions, more questions and answers - not all the answers were satisfactory, I began to realize that if God is God, His ways and thoughts would be beyond our imaginations. It is impossible to comprehend His ways. I began to realize that some questions I had previously needed not be answered anymore. I read some Christian literature and discovered that a lot people went through the same thing as I did. I was deeply touched and moved, my heart started to revere this God. One question still hovering over: "Am I His? Am I really His?" If He truly, truly tells me that I belong to him, I will be His and I will accept Him.

Two or three weeks before Thanksgiving, Brother Ting kept mentioning that a baptism would be held the Thanskgivng weekend. I was not paying too much attention to it. When people asked me when I was going to be baptized, I would say "Wait till I finish reading the Bible and when I think through it." What was the point of being baptized when I had already accepted Christ? Besides, I thought I was not good enough to be called a Christian. But God kept calling me. It was a long two weeks, and my heart had no rest. Brothers and sisters were also asking but my heart kept on resisting. One day I could not hold back anymore. I called Brother Ting and told him that I had decided. Brother Ting and his wife came over right away to confirm my decision.

I knew Jesus was my Savior but honestly I did not know why I needed to be baptized. God kept calling upon me and Brother Ting explained the meaning of baptism based on the scripture. I confirmed my decision, and that night, I slept soundly with a peaceful heart, because I finally found my refuge. I partook in the baptism on the Thanksgiving Day. Peace and joy that I read so much were upon me; especially the period right after the baptism, it was truly peaceful and joyous.

It has been over six months since my baptism. I would not say that I have always been peaceful and joyous. It is clear to me that whenever I am not reading the Bible, not praying or not spending time with God, I feel weary and worrisome. The less I spend time with God, the more worrisome I am. God would not let me go. He uses people and incidents to remind me to spend time with Him. When I go back to read the Bible, the peace and joy would come back. His love manifests in every little bit of my life. Thank You, Lord, because you allow me to experience you. (Jia)