Newsletter August, 2004


August, 2004

Tommy's Testimony

(Editor's note: Tommy graduated from the University of Florida this month. He has decided to serve the Lord Jesus instead of pursuing a graduate study. This is his personal testimony given at the church after attending Urbana 2003. Please pray for our young brother!)

Urbana College Student Mission Conventions are held around the world every other year. The organizer's goal is to reveal the great works of Christ in today's world to the students. I have been very excited since I attended an Urbana mission convention because it made me realize that the Lord was even more majestic than I had imagined. Today, I hope to praise the great majesty of God by sharing how I have been influenced by this experience.

The convention drew my attention to two things in particular: (1) College students' great zeal for God, and (2) the necessity to set myself free from all that I have learned before. My spiritual life had been in a state of standstill before I went to the convention. I had been leading the Bible study on Fridays and attending church meetings on Saturdays and Sundays. Despite my spirituality in such appearances, I knew that my spiritual growth had reached a hard-to-break bottleneck. I asked myself whether it was all I could gain from my faith in Christ and whether I attended church activities because I really wanted to or simply because it was a necessary ritual. During our gatherings at college, sharing always came from a few students while the rest simply listened all the time. We all felt that something was missing but weren't sure what it was. I felt quite disappointed at my lukewarm attitude and hoped for a change. At the convention, I realized that despite that disappointment of myself, God did not give up on me but had hope.
UF's Campus Crusade for Christ is focused on disciple training with the study of the Bible verses and stories. From the convention, I learned that the gospel message was so important that gospel sharing and disciple training should go hand in hand. We should not keep what we learn from God as our own knowledge but to share it with others and to live it in our daily lives. The Samaritan woman by the well is a good example. As soon as she got the living water from the Lord, she spread the good news to everybody in town. It was the first time in my life to see such a great zeal among the youth for the Lord: reading the Bible, praying, singing praises, and sharing about the Lord from early in the morning to late at night.

Twenty thousand students attended the convention such that the whole campus of the University of Illinois was opened for the convention. Except for the special meetings in the morning and at the evening, there were three hundred different unique topic sessions held across campus in the afternoon. Some sessions were very crowded. Notwithstanding the cold and rain of a Chicago winter, the windows had to be opened so that those who stood outside could also hear the message. The thirst for the Lord was unbelievable. Everybody shared how God had worked in, changed, and influenced his/her life in the discussion held in the evening. I was very surprised. Five of the eight members of our group shared about the calling of the Lord and their willingness to serve the Lord. A freshman was called by the Lord to serve among the poor in Chicago. A student who was good at guitar had decided to serve the Lord with music. A student who was fond of aviation wanted to serve the Lord by flying aircraft for missionaries. A student had a great burden for China. He saw great need among villages in China when he went there a year before. He planned to go back with eight other people to provide them with gospel materials. The head of the discussion group was called to preach the gospel in Iraq. They all believed that serving the Lord was the utmost important thing. They understand that all things will pass away except the service for God.

For the first time in my life, I was deeply moved and repented sincerely in the Spirit. I saw myself robbing the Lord of His first priority in my life. I saw what a glutton I was. Once I drove to Orlando with a friend simply for a hearty meal. I treasured perishable things rather than God. When I prayed at home, I often prayed about my education, my career, my future, and my health merely for the benefit of myself. However, when we prayed in the group, we prayed for the coming of God's kingdom and about the earthquake in Iran. The kingdom of God is not just for us, but also for many who are needy and lost. We should let them know how much the Lord loves them. However, I had only paid attention to my study and food. Every minute we have on earth is blessing from God for us to serve Him rather than to satisfy our own desire for pleasure. If I cannot be faithful in that which is least, how can God give me much to do? Do we store up things for ourselves but are not rich toward God (Luke 12:31-21)? The man with two tunics should share with him who has none (Luke 3:11). We are told to share with others not only when we have extra but when we have two. That afternoon, two thousand pieces of clothes were offered. On the night when a sister shared about the missionary work in Turkey, twenty students decided to give their lives for missionary work in Turkey. They immediately followed God's calling. When Jesus called a man to follow him, he asked for the permission to bury his father first. However, Jesus insisted that he straightly go and proclaim the kingdom of God. Another man told Jesus that he was willing to follow him after he said good-bye to his family. Yet, Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:59-62). I was very moved by the decision of these twenty students who were willing to give up all they had in America and to serve the Lord in a foreign country. God does not want us to serve Him only today, tomorrow, or next year. Instead, He asks us to serve Him with our whole life. After the convention, about ten thousand students decided to offer themselves for short missionary or long missionary work. 
Born to a Chinese Christian family, you must have heard about two things from your parents: God and College. My parents are very concerned about my education because they want me to have the ability to live a comfortable life in the future, to live in a good community, but not to suffer the poverty they have suffered, to have a family, and to raise grandchildren for them. Though they never said so, it would be wonderful if I could support them financially or buy a new car for them. Chinese families are normally like that. My parents came to America because it offers better opportunities than China. They want me to become part of them. It's understandable that they have their plans for my life. However, how can my life's ultimate purpose be to seek for a life like this while totally ignoring God's will? Children who grow up in America want to fulfill the American dream. We unconsciously follow such a path: going to college ¨¤ receiving a degree ¨¤ living in a two-story house with white fences ¨¤ raising two kids ¨¤ driving two cars ¨¤ saving sufficient money ¨¤ having a comfortable retirement. Without thinking, we fall into the pattern of living for the American dream.

One day, two girls came to challenge me. One girl wanted to know more about the Lord after she graduated from high school, so she decided to go to a far-away Christian University that has the expertise in teaching ballet dance which she loved and to start a new life dependant on God's supply only. The other girl planned to go to a Christian College with the expertise in teaching sign language because she had the burden to serve among the deaf. Why hadn't I thought of going to a Christian University? The universities I considered were Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell. I seemed to have forgotten to seek for the truth in the pursuit of personal glory.

Another sister, Nike, wanted to study for a major that would provide good job opportunities. Her parents wanted her to become a doctor, but she chose to study mechanical engineering. After graduation, she invented a medical instrument for curing heart disease with four other colleagues. When the patent of the invention was sold, she was supposed to receive three hundred million dollars in bonus. Then the Lord called her to serve Him full time. Her manager told her that she should leave after working for the company for one more year so that she could take the bonus and leave. At first, she decided to stay so that she would have enough money to supply poor children, to support the missionary work of the church, and to satisfy her life's need. However, after prayer, she knew clearly that God wanted her to leave immediately rather than a year later. She decided to obey God's calling and went on a short missionary trip to Cairo. From this trip, she learned that God wanted her to help poor children in the city and learned about God's detailed plan for her service. When God calls us, He demands an answer now rather than a year later. God values our lives rather than money. God wants us to depend on Him in everything. We should not worry about our life, what we will eat, or about our body, what we will wear (Luke 12:22-32). God also calls us to serve Him full time and to work with Him.

How should we spend the time God has given us? Western Christianity has replaced the true value of the saving gospel with behavioral rituals. We are surrounded by lost souls and people in need whom we are to help and save as commanded by God. If we believe that Jesus is the only way to the kingdom of God and if Jesus comes tomorrow, four hundred million people will go to hell. This is not a matter of life or death. It is a matter of eternal life or eternal death. Therefore, we must preach the gospel wherever we go. How sad it is to be separated from our friends and family members for eternity! We cannot stop preaching the gospel. Preaching the Word of God is the sole purpose of our lives.

God so loved us that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. How much are we willing to offer ourselves to love God? I believe that the most important thing in our lives is not to go to a good school, to find a good job, or to find a good spouse, but to live under the big plan of God. The right for us to contribute to the growth of God's kingdom and to serve in the growth of the church is a blessing from God rather than an obligation. God knew us even before we were born, so He must have His plan for us. Jesus whom we follow was on this earth only thirty years in the first century, but God Himself is beyond time and space. Though we are living in the twenty first century, our hearts should be as fervent as Jesus' to serve God fully. We should live like a living fish against the tide, but not like a dead one floating with the flow.

May brothers and sisters never stop loving others, having hope, preaching the gospel, or serving God. The youth and college students, in particular, should carry our cross and bring the mission of God near and far. God always revives the young to testify for Him. Are you willing to be a living testimony for God?