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 (Manna 59: Technology and Entertainment)
Fourteen Coins
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Fourteen Coins

How God Opens a Way for Those with Unbelieving Parents

Paulina Tse—Garden Grove, California, USA

Most of us do not realize how precious every opportunity we have to serve God is, whether that opportunity comes in the form of scrubbing toilets or sacrificing your vacation days at a church event. Growing up with an unbelieving father, I grasped this idea quickly. Since I was young, actions that other families in church viewed as typical posed a challenge in my family.

While many of my peers gave little thought to the pastors’ constant emphasis on marrying within the church because different values lead to disagreements when raising children, I knew what they warned us about was true. Simply attending church events was a struggle, not to mention my mother allotting a portion of her income for tithe every month.

If we really have the heart to seek after God, however, He will always make a way for us. Ever since I was young, God has shown me His power to provide for His servants.

A WILD GUESS

The summer before I started third grade, my sister, mom, and I were ready for Student Spiritual Convocation (SSC)—my sister was going as a participant, my mom was going to serve as a counselor, and the coordinators made an exception for me to attend since there would be no one to take care of me at home while my mom was away.

My dad did not object to this plan until he saw us packing our suitcases the night before SSC. He began insisting that he had never said we could attend SSC in the first place and obstinately refused to let us go.

After trying to reason with my dad, my sister tearfully stomped off to her room and slammed her door shut. Frustrated, my mom also eventually gave up and told us we could try again next year.

We were all visibly upset, and to get us to talk to him again, my dad jokingly declared that we would “let our God decide whether we could go.” If my sister or I could guess the exact number of coins in his pocket, we could go to SSC.

My sister, still enraged that my dad had so abruptly changed his mind, was further incensed, pointing out how impossible this task was. Although I was also angry, I didn’t see any harm in giving it a try.

I said a quick prayer asking God to help me because I had been eagerly awaiting my first SSC, cast one last glance at my dad’s slightly bulging jeans pocket, and took a wild guess.

“Fourteen?”

My dad counted, and the jumble of dimes, pennies, and quarters miraculously added up to exactly fourteen coins. He laughed in disbelief and recounted again and again. There was no way to deny that there were indeed fourteen coins, and in the end we were allowed to go.

Thank God, it was a fruitful SSC, and I received the Holy Spirit. Many people may claim it was simply a lucky guess, but I truly believe that it was the grace and power of our Lord. If we have a sincere heart to draw closer to God, He will never fail to open a door for us.

RELYING ON GOD TO OPEN A WAY

When your unbelieving parent still rejects your plea to attend a church event even after you have just spent an hour meticulously explaining that, yes, there is adult supervision during church events; yes, the only things we do are pray and sit through classes all week; yes, we still have fun; and yes, the church does feed us, you may end up feeling hopeless and defeated.

You may even find yourself questioning whether attending the upcoming SSC is really worth all the effort you are exerting in order to sway your parent. After all, it is likely that your unbelieving parent is not only discouraging you from attending but even bribing you with new game consoles, electronics, or money if you choose to stay home.

When these nagging doubts begin to emerge in the back of your mind, when you begin to wonder if God really cares whether you go to the next church event, remember that He sees your every effort. As it says in Galatians 6:7, “for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”

This is one of the most difficult struggles with having unbelieving parents—if you falter in your faith, it is much easier to stray from the right path. When you are spiritually weak, instead of encouraging and guiding you, they act as a stumbling block to your faith.

It is during these predicaments, however, when even foolproof logic cannot persuade unbelieving parents, that you must rely on God. Only God was able to soften Pharaoh’s heart to let the Israelites leave, and only God is able to soften the hearts of even the most obstinate parents.

Now, nine years later, my first National Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS) is soon approaching and my dad’s uneasiness is beginning to resurface when faced with the prospect of me flying across the country to attend yet another church seminar.

He demands to know why the “church events in Southern California aren’t good enough,” and a shadow of uncertainty flits across his face as he questions how much larger our church really is beyond the familiar Garden Grove location. When I inform him that True Jesus Church has churches in thirty-nine countries, from the UK to Congo, the uncertainty changes to suspicion, and he is done with the discussion about NYTS.

Although he can still be as stubborn as he was the night before my first SSC, I am nowhere near as agitated as I was then. Since that first obstacle, I have seen how God has worked in my family to allow my sister and me to attend church events regularly.

As the Lord “makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters,” so will He blaze “a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isa 43:16, 19). I have complete confidence that if we let God fight our battles, He will make the impossible possible for His servants; He will part the Red Sea for His children.

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Author: Paulina Tse
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