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 (Manna 53: Conquering Addictions)
From Serving Mammon to Entering the Mercy Gate
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From Serving Mammon to Entering the Mercy Gate

CY Lai—Taiwan

A SLAVE OF DESIRE

Before I came to know Christ, I believed that as humans, we could rely on our own strength to overcome all obstacles. I thought that as long as I worked hard, I could achieve any goal I had in life.

My wife and I were classmates from pharmaceutical college and we run a pharmacy store in Chia-Yi, Taiwan. We worked very diligently. For six straight years, we did not take a day off. However, I often saw people living comfortably without having to work hard. They simply had good fortune or a family inheritance.

Four years after I opened my store, I renounced atheism and started going to different kinds of Buddhist temples like everyone else around me, hoping that these idols would help me obtain a better career and make more money. It seemed that materially my life had improved, so I continued my idol worshipping for several years.

But as my material life got better, my desire for making more money also increased. I found that I could not be satisfied with what I had. I became obsessed with the endless pursuit of wealth.

In order to accumulate greater wealth, my mind constantly dwelled on how to invest money. My mother also told me, “There is nothing wrong about borrowing money from banks. All the wealthy people have gotten loans from banks.” So I acquired loans from banks and became a committee member of the pharmacist association in order to fund my investments.

In this way I became what is recorded in the Bible—a slave to Mammon.

Looking back, I really regret what I did. I ask myself, “For whom did I slave away like that?” But at the time, I did not know the true depth of my enslavement.

TURNING POINT

My younger brother came into contact with some members of True Jesus Church when he was studying in Canada. He was there when my father was diagnosed with leukemia, so he called the Chia-Yi church and asked the members there to help my mother.

My mother had grown up in a Catholic family, but she had not been to church for many years and was practically an atheist. My brother reminded my mother to rely on God.

At first, she prayed earnestly to God, asking for His healing, and my father also showed some interest in the gospel. During his stay at Tai-Chung hospital, many members from Tai-Chung church came to visit and pray for him. But he passed away within three months and did not get a chance to be baptized.

My mother suffered greatly from the loss of my father and became reluctant to believe in God. She could not understand why God did not listen to her prayers when others told her so often that prayers are effective.

One day, as my mother was in her room crying, God comforted her by letting her hear the wonderful voices of angels singing hymns. At first my mother thought that it was the voices of church members who had been coming to visit, but when she asked, she found out that no one was singing. My brother told us later that he had often prayed and asked God to comfort her.

This incident helped my mother rethink her belief. Through the Lord’s continual comfort and her own experience, she decided to accept Jesus Christ as her savior. She began to join church services, and not long afterward, she received water baptism and became a member of TJC. She joined Bible study, fellowship, and heard many miraculous testimonies.

My mother lived with me, my wife, and my daughter, and testified to us at meal times hoping that the three of us would accept the gospel. She wanted to pass on the precious belief of salvation in Jesus Christ to us, but I deemed it as rubbish. That attitude brought real heartache to her.

Every time she brought up church, testimonies, and Jesus Christ, I would get very angry. I debated and talked back to her until she became speechless. I was convinced that a religious life would be a waste of time because I was only interested in pursuing wealth, power, and social status. My mother would often hide in her room, crying and worrying about how to bring us to God.

Though I refused to accept Christ at this time because I was interested only in money, I was not satisfied with my life. With the business, my wife and I seemed to be pressed for time every day. Losing even three hours of business cost us substantially and affected our ability to keep a balance at the end of the month.

In order to increase our revenue, my wife and I often held meetings to discuss and review details. We sought improvement but instead always ended up in disagreements and fights. We became a very unhappy couple. In others’ eyes we seemed to have everything: a nice house, a car, money, and a daughter.

But I was still not content and always compared myself with others. I realize now that all these material things are superficial and insignificant, but I did not know it then.

REALIZATION IN ILLNESS

Our lives took a turn in early April 2003. My wife asked to get a physical exam after feeling fatigued for several days. She had had the same feeling before but never wanted to get checked by a doctor, so it was miraculous that she asked.

A blood test showed that everything was normal except her alpha-fetoprotein level. My wife had Hepatitis B so this indicator should not have been over 20 mg/ml, but the reading was 30 mg/ml. There was a 90% chance that my wife had liver cancer.

My wife and I were both just over thirty years old. We were at the peak of our lives and had plans and goals yet to be accomplished. If it were confirmed that my wife had cancer, there would only be a 50% chance for her to live five more years after a successful operation.

Knowing this, our life was full of anxiety, worry, and tears. We did not know what to do. We felt our life to be dark and without hope. We broke the bad news to my mother. She did not know how to comfort me, but said the most important words, “You must pray to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

At the time, I wanted nothing more than for my wife to be cured. Even if the operation went well, the doctor could not guarantee my wife’s survival. With this thought in mind, I said to myself, “Why not take my mom’s suggestion and pray to Jesus Christ, because worshipping idols seems to have been useless?”

Since I did not know how to pray, I just said “Jesus, if you are God, please listen to my prayer.” I poured out everything from inside of me to God. I also remembered a lot of my wrongdoings from the past, but I asked, “If the Lord permits, please save my wife.”

A few days later, my wife went to a better hospital for a detailed check-up. From the ultrasound, they found a black spot around two or three centimeters in size. A CAT scan was scheduled for the next afternoon for a more accurate analysis.

The next morning, I prayed in my own way and knelt down before a Bible my mom gave to me. When I studied in Catholic school, the Bible was just decoration in my room to show that I was a knowledgeable person; I never read it. Now that the Bible was right in front of my feet, I thought, “I will take whatever verses I turn to after the prayer as God’s instruction to me.”

After I prayed, I opened my Bible and it fell on John 4:46-53, which records how Jesus healed the nobleman’s son. I was so thrilled after reading these verses. I ran downstairs to tell my wife that she would be okay in the exam that afternoon because Jesus Christ showed me that she would survive.

On the way to the hospital, I thought to myself, “Jesus, Jesus, if the CAT scans show that my wife does not have cancer, the two of us will believe in you the rest of our lives.” Before we got to the hospital I told my wife my decision, and she expressed that she would believe as well.

That afternoon the report indicated that the black spot was a benign tumor, but behind the black spot was another tumor 1 cm in size. This tumor was possibly malignant. With that in mind, my wife and I went home and began to pray.

A STUBBORN HEART

I did not know how I should pray or if Jesus was even listening to our prayers. I flipped through the Bible and saw James 5:16, which reads, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” I was very touched by this verse.

I knew that I was not righteous, and neither was my wife, for we had worshipped many idols and lived a proud and irreverent life. So I went to my mother, hoping that she would pray for my wife, and I also asked my mother for the members in church to pray for us. My mother said, “Sure, but there is a spiritual convocation coming up soon, people might be busy now.”

My mother called Pastor Lin of Chia-Yi church right away and he and a few other brothers and sisters wanted to come to my house and pray for us the next day. My wife and I were not happy about that because we wanted to believe in Jesus, but we were not ready to convert.

I had worshipped many idols in the past, but that turned out to be useless. If these church people were like the people in the Buddhist temples, it would be hard to escape from them. But because I brought up the request to my mom first, I had to treat them as my guests. I decided that if they tried to force us to join the church, I would just pretend that I didn’t hear them.

The next day, the pastor and the members came to the house. They chatted with us, prayed for us, and did not force us to come to church. It was different from what I expected. I was touched by their love and felt a little ashamed of myself.

I asked the pastor about Matthew 19:16-21, which records the story of the rich young man who asked Jesus what he had to do to receive eternal life. And Jesus told him, “‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me’” (Mt 19:21).

I told the pastor that I would do the same if I could receive peace from God. The pastor replied, “Do not take it literally, the teaching is meant for those who are enslaved to money.” I pondered what the pastor said but still did not want to go to church.

GOD’S GUIDANCE

One Thursday night about two weeks after the pastor’s visit, I was very heavy-hearted, so I took my daughter for a ride on my motorcycle. We passed by

Hou-Ping Street
and saw a building with the sign, True Jesus Church, Chia-Yi.

It was about seven in the evening and the church was very well lit with the door and windows wide open. I saw a few people singing hymns inside, but no one was in the back of the chapel. All of a sudden, I thought maybe I should go inside to pray. I thought maybe the Lord would hear my prayer and answer it if I came into His church, because the chapel is the house of Jesus.

I asked my daughter if she wanted to go inside and pray. She said, “Okay.” We went into the chapel and sat down in the very last pew. I bowed my head, closed my eyes, and began to pray. When the prayer ended, the chapel was filled with people, and they were a bit shocked to see me, a total stranger, with tears all over my face.

The service proceeded, but I just worried about my own things and kept looking at the ceiling, thinking that God might live there. I stared at the ceiling and prayed to God to relieve my soul from my burden, as tears fell down my cheeks.

At the end of the service, the pastor said, “If anyone wants to pray for the Holy Spirit, they are welcome to come to the front.” I thought that maybe God was not able to hear my prayer since I sat so far in the back, so I moved to the front.

Kneeling down in the front surrounded by people with the Holy Spirit, I thought, these people must be the so-called “righteous people” mentioned in James 5:16. It would be so great if they could all just pray ten seconds for my wife. Then I thought about those fighting in the Iraq war; I was filled with compassion for them and started to pray for them. This thought occurred in my mind three times and I continued to pray earnestly.

When the prayer ended, the pastor announced that a first time truthseeker had received the Holy Spirit. I was that truthseeker. For the first time in a month I felt that my burden was lifted from my shoulders and that my fear and worry were gone.

I went home and told my wife that I got the Holy Spirit. She asked, “What is the Holy Spirit?” In fact, I did not have very much knowledge about the Holy Spirit either. All I knew was that my burden was lifted away in prayer.

Three days later, I returned to church wanting to know more about the Holy Spirit, for it gave me such a great feeling of relief. I also continued to study the Bible and wanted to have a sound basis in my belief. I did not want to worship the wrong god as I had done before.

I told my wife that her illness could not be cured by doctors or advanced medical techniques. I stressed that only through prayers could she be healed. Sometimes we got into arguments because of this. But she had been praying secretly without my knowing.

One night, I reminded my wife again about prayer and asked why she did not pray more. She said, “I have been praying.” We both started to cry. Before we slept, I held her hand in mine and prayed fervently. She lay in bed and tears fell down her face. She could not go to sleep until 2 a.m. so I went to the other room and continued to pray.

The next day, while I was in my study, she ran to me in great excitement and said that she had just received the Holy Spirit.  Four days later, my mother, who had been baptized for two years, received the Holy Spirit as well. Thank God, in just one week, three of us in the family received the Holy Spirit.

EVIDENCE

My wife continued to take monthly MRIs. Her situation seemed to have stabilized. At the suggestion of a brother, we decided that a liver biopsy would give a better indication of her condition, so we scheduled one in August.

When it came time to do the biopsy, we began to get anxious and scared because of the risks associated with it. But then I thought, now that I believe in Jesus, I should not be afraid. I began to pray to the Lord for His help.

One night, in my prayer I pleaded to God, saying that if He wanted me as His disciple, to let me fear no more. I also asked God to show me some evidence so that I could be at peace. I knew that God is an almighty God, so this request was not meant to test Him.

Not long after, God sent me a vision. In my prayer I saw four angels appear in front of me. One of the angels was bigger and had six wings (three pairs), and the body looked shiny and transparent. The angel started to lay hands on me.

Meanwhile, my wife was sleeping on the floor with her body curled up. The other three angels went over to her and laid hands on her head.  One of them went near her back and seemed to be working on something. I asked, “What does this mean?” The angel replied, “Did you not ask for evidence? God has heard what you asked, so do not doubt.”

I then asked for the angel’s name, and the angel replied, “My name is not important; the one you believe, Jesus Christ, is important.” I asked once more for the name before I woke up.

The next morning, my wife told me that her back was sore. She wondered if she had been sleeping in an uncomfortable position. She still complained about the soreness in her back later that night, so I told her my vision and asked her not to worry. I also said that I would only tell my mom about this, and no one else.

A week later, before we went back to the hospital for the ultrasound, we kept praying to God and hoping that the tumor would not be larger. Thank God, the ultrasound showed that the black spot had totally disappeared. The doctor looked at the ultrasound carefully, but could not find anything. It was gone completely.

Six weeks passed. My wife thought everything was okay, so she went for a blood test without telling me, and did not pray about it beforehand. After going through all these trials, I had learned that I needed to rely on God in everything, so I was unhappy to find out what my wife did.

The report came back that night. It showed that one indicator of liver cancer had doubled. Such a high number indicated a 95% chance that she might have liver cancer. Suddenly, we lost our faith. Doubts and worries filled our hearts. To be prudent, we scheduled another exam in a better hospital the next Monday.

The Sunday before her examination, Chia-YiChurch held a gospel tea fellowship. At the prayer session at the end of the fellowship, my wife and I both knelt down and prayed fervently for God’s healing. In the prayer, I heard a clear voice say, “Take heart; I love her more than you do.” The voice repeated this three times.

After we went home, my wife told me that in her prayer at church she asked God to comfort me because she knew that I was so worried about her. On Monday, the indicator had dropped from 400 mg/ml to 200 mg/ml. Thank God, this was another miracle, and we both rejoiced with tears.

TRUE VALUE

I knew God would answer our prayers according to our faith. God is almighty, and if we hold steadfast to our beliefs He will save us in the end. As recorded in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

We came to realize that everything that happened to us was according to God’s wonderful will. Thank the Lord our family of three got baptized in March 2004. God had given us the precious Holy Spirit, and we now belong to His holy name.

Though human eyes cannot see God, through the abidance of the Holy Spirit, God is manifested within us. It was affirmed to me that the True Jesus Church has the Holy Spirit, complete gospel, and abidance of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that we can always rely on this Spirit of Truth that has been given to us.

Ever since I came to know the Lord, my life has changed drastically. I know that the purpose of living our lives is to glorify Jesus Christ, to love our family, and to keep the faith. We must also help others find the true meaning of life by preaching to them. Because of the blessings from God, I now live a happy and fulfilling life.

I wish that everyone can come to this church to study the truth and learn that Jesus is the true God; He is the Lord who gives life to us. His merciful gate is always open to everyone, and whoever comes to Him will receive abundant grace and understand the true meaning of life.

May all the glory be unto His name!

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