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 (Manna 57: Christians in the Community)
Now My Eyes Have Seen God
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Olivier Djiann—Sung Shan, Taiwan

Life is full of unforeseen events. Born and educated in France, I never imagined that I would one day move to Taiwan and marry someone I met there. I thought even less of becoming a Christian and a member of the True Jesus Church.

TAKING THE FIRST STEP

My father is Jewish and my mother is Catholic, but they are both non-practicing. So when I was still a child, they decided that I could choose my own religion. However, religious belief always remained distant for me, and I had no interest in it.

It was my wife who first believed and was baptized in True Jesus Church. She tried to bring me to the church but was unsuccessful because I felt that I did not need religion.

I thought that it was good that she was happy with the church, but I wanted her to leave me out of it. My wife therefore attended services at Sung Shan Church without me.

One Sabbath after the birth of our daughter, my wife needed my help to bring the stroller and other baby necessities to the church. I agreed to help her, but told her that I would only go to the door of the building; I wasn’t going to go inside.

But once we got to the door, I saw that she would not be able to manage everything alone, so I helped her bring the stroller up the stairs into the church. I purposely stayed silent and didn’t speak to anyone. However, God touched me through my weak point: vision.

I am a professional photographer, and I love to observe the world around me. Once I was in the church, I could keep my mouth shut, indifferent to the words spoken around me, but I could not walk with my eyes closed. I was touched to see the happy faces of the brothers and sisters, which were so different from those of the outside world.

I even saw a radiant face like that of an angel in a classical painting. I wondered, “How can these people be so joyful when life is sometimes so painful?” I didn’t believe in God that day, but a crack appeared in the wall that I had built around my heart. God had weakened the wall through this experience in church, and the crack would continue to widen in the following months.

THE KEY TO MY GROWTH

Of all the True Jesus Church locations in Taiwan, Sung Shan probably has the greatest number of brothers and sisters who speak French or have studied in France.

I had the opportunity to meet a pastor who had studied French in college, and we therefore organized a Bible study group in French at Sung Shan. I asked questions about the Bible, and the preacher was able to practice the language when answering my questions.

But I still had a problem because I refused to kneel down and pray; I did not want to feel like I was inferior to a master.

One evening, I went to service with my wife and stayed in the back of the chapel, as I usually did, not participating very much in anything.

I watched from my seat as the brothers and sisters knelt down to pray at the end of the service. Suddenly, God spoke to me for the first time. He said, “You can spend your whole life sitting in the back of the chapel.” In other words, one day I would have to take the first step toward building my faith.

From that moment on, I started to reflect on my situation. I asked myself, “Why did God take a Parisian to Taiwan to live ten minutes from the true church? If I had stayed in France, I would never have had the chance to meet or know God.”

It was then that I started to pray, although without much conviction. A few weeks later, I decided that I was going to go to the front of the chapel to pray. During that prayer, I felt a breeze through my hair, and I was very joyful and wanted to laugh. But mostly I felt that I was at home.

I realized that God wasn’t a stranger, as I had believed, but that He was like a friend whom I hadn’t seen for a long time because I never invited him over, even though he lives nearby. I also had this impression, that our life is like a train that passes through many stations, and the problem is that we do not know at which station it will stop.

That evening I had the conviction that the True Jesus Church was the station where I had to stop at, and, most important of all, I knew that I had to persevere in prayer. Prayer was the key to my growth.

THE DOOR TO UNDERSTANDING

One evening, when I was at home, I heard God speak to me. He said, “Now you need to think about baptism.” And that was all He said. So the next day I went to church and told the brothers and sisters that I wanted to receive baptism. They were happy for me and congratulated me, but one sister asked me a very good question: “Why?”

I was surprised by the question because I simply wanted to be baptized. I had an urge to get baptized, and that was my reason; I had no logical explanation. On the other hand, the question was reasonable because baptism is an important sacrament that should not be taken lightly. I felt a bit upset when I went home because I was bothered by that question.

That night God gave me a very clear answer to the sister’s question. While I was asleep, God told me in a dream, “Be baptized. Baptism is the door, and when you pass through it you will understand everything.”

I decided to receive baptism a few months later at the October 2003 spiritual convocation. During the convocation, I again went up to the front to pray. I had another strong impression, as interesting as the one from my first time praying in the front, but not as peaceful. I felt like I was surrounded by heavy fog and was struggling hard to approach a dim light far away. It was difficult to bear the darkness, and I wanted to get out.

After the prayer ended, the preacher told me I had received the Holy Spirit. At first I was very surprised and I told myself, “So this is how one receives the Holy Spirit.” I was quite disappointed, because everything I had heard from others about receiving the Holy Spirit was very positive and very joyful. But I came to understand that this was only the beginning of my experiences with the Holy Spirit.

WELCOMED BY GOD

Two days after my baptism, I told myself, “Now that you are a newly baptized person you need to form good habits.” So I decided to start praying every morning before starting work. After the prayer, I turned on my computer and I saw a vision—it was like having a dream, but I was not asleep. I was in my house in Taipei, and someone rang the doorbell. I opened the door and saw a Caucasian man about forty years old standing in front of me. He asked me if he could enter my house.

I let him in, and even though I had never met him before, I knew that he was my paternal grandfather. Although he had passed away before I was born, I recognized him from the photographs of him in my father’s office.

After we talked for a while, he told me that he had to leave. I asked him, “Can I give you a hug?” He said, “Of course, my son.” I began to cry, and I saw myself shrinking in height as he became very tall. He held me in his arms, and I felt peace and immense joy.

For me, God is like my grandfather—very loving and very protective. He welcomed me not only as a child but also as a lost sheep.

Since my baptism in the True Jesus Church, I feel like I have experienced this verse from Job 42:5, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (NIV).

I wish and hope that everyone can see God with their own eyes and feel Him. Knowing God and drawing closer to Him is the most beautiful adventure a human being can have. I can see how my life is now more peaceful and bright. May all glory and thanks be unto God.

 

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