Worldwide Sites
Contact
Find A Church
LogoHome   Daily Walk    e-Library   Order  中文 
e-Library Home |  Browse By Category |  Study the Bible |  Read the Bible    
 (Manna 59: Technology and Entertainment)
Finding Hope and a Purpose
TOC | Previous | Next

Finding Hope and a Purpose

Wun-Chiao Cheung—Queens, New York, USA

NEVER HAPPY

Before I came to know Jesus Christ, I was a typical teenager. I went to school every day and hung out with my friends after school. I cursed, gossiped, told a lot of lies, and more. I was a very wild and active person.

But because my family was very strict, I wasn’t allowed to do many things that my peers were doing. I lied so that my parents wouldn’t find out that I had disobeyed them. After telling one lie, I would have to tell more lies to cover previous lies.

My family had a lot of problems, and one of the worst was my parents’ fighting. They constantly argued. Because this was the environment I grew up in, I was never really happy.

Another reason why I wasn’t happy was because I felt that I was the only child who wasn’t loved.

In traditional Chinese families like mine, sons are favored over daughters, and this is especially true for a firstborn son. So between my older brother and me, I always felt slighted. Since my sister was the youngest child, she was always taken care of and protected.

As the middle child, I always ended up taking care of chores and other household matters while bearing the brunt of my parents’ frustrations. I started to believe that my parents hated me and that they took care of me because it was their responsibility and not because they loved me.

I didn’t believe in God because I felt so much suffering, sadness, and depression because of the fighting and unhappiness in my family. I often took refuge in the bathroom because that was the only place where I could cry. I would just look at myself in the mirror and shed tears.

When I was in high school, I was so depressed one day that I thought about committing suicide. I was crying nonstop in the bathroom and thought that, since my life was miserable and every day was just the same as the previous day, I should just end things right away.

But I didn’t go through with it because I worried that I would have to go to the hospital if my attempt failed. I didn’t want that to happen so I just went on with life because there wasn’t anything I could do to change it.

A PLACE I COULD BELONG TO

In the summer of 2002, my cousins from New Jersey came with their parents for a visit the way they had done every year. But this time, they started to preach to us.

Our family followed traditional ancestral worship, but my cousins had recently been introduced to the True Jesus Church. They told my sister and me that we should believe in God because He’s great. But every time they preached to us we would say, “No.”

As a Gentile, I just couldn’t believe the words they preached. I was a teenager who would use God’s name in vain and laugh at religion because of the preconception that God could never be truly real. I always thought that I would never believe in God or be a churchgoer.

Despite our refusals, they invited us to attend Student Spiritual Convocation in August. I didn’t go because it sounded strange to me, but my sister went. When she came back, she seemed different—I got the feeling that she wasn’t a part of the world anymore but already belonged to God.

I asked her what she thought of it, and she told me that she liked it and that it was fun. Our relationship improved from that point on, and we became close like sisters usually are.

I started to be more interested in going to church, so my uncle came and drove my brother, my sister, and me to Elizabeth Church in New Jersey for Sabbath service. On that first visit, I saw a lot of youths there who were all so friendly. I felt that I could belong to this place, too.

Before the morning service started, a sister explained prayer to me because visitors often got scared by it. I wanted to see what it was like before I started to pray, so I looked around at the beginning. I wasn’t scared at all like the sister had warned me about. Rather, I thought it was amusing.

Nonetheless, I innocently followed her instructions on how to pray. I thought that it was a nice experience because I was somehow able to express the deepest thoughts and feelings in my heart that I could never tell anyone. From that time on, I continued to pray often.

My sister and I attended services regularly at Elizabeth Church after that first visit. My uncle drove out to New York every Friday night so that he could bring the two of us to church on Saturday morning with the rest of his family. In April 2003, I was baptized into the True Jesus Church.

The Only True Church

After baptism, I began to see the importance of God and His commandments. Every week I couldn’t wait for Fridays and Saturdays to come because Friday night was rest, and I really enjoyed going to church on Saturday.

I thank God my parents weren’t opposed to me and my sister going to church. My relationship with my family improved because I saw how my suffering had built up a strong character. I also reminded myself that I shouldn’t blame my parents and that I should forgive them now that I had found the truth.

A few months after I was baptized, I started to get really busy because I was preparing for college examinations in addition to studying for school. Eventually, it became difficult for me to observe the Sabbath every week. It was especially difficult because I had to wake up early on Saturday to go to church in New Jersey.

I didn’t know what to do because I heard in religious education classes and in sermons how important it was to keep the Sabbath, but commuting so far every week was very hard. During my senior year in high school, I suddenly thought of looking up True Jesus Church online. I found out that there was a True Jesus Church in Queens, so I asked my dad to drive me there one Sabbath.

I knew that it was wrong to worship at another church because members at Elizabeth Church had explained that we were the only true church. For some reason, I thought that they meant that Elizabeth Church was the only true church. So even though I had found Queens Church, I wasn’t sure that it was okay to observe Sabbath there.

I told myself that I would leave if they didn’t do things the same way as in Elizabeth. As the service progressed, I saw how everything was the same. I found out soon after that “only true church” referred to True Jesus Church and that there were many locations around the world.

DETERMINED TO RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT

My sister and I started to attend services at Queens Church instead of Elizabeth Church. By that time, I had already been baptized for about one year, but I still hadn’t received the Holy Spirit.

When my cousins came on a visit, they suggested that we pray together. Only one of my cousins had the Holy Spirit at the time. But while we were praying, I heard two voices speaking in tongues.

I was very surprised, especially when I realized afterward that my sister was the other person with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know that she had received it. When she confirmed that she had received the Holy Spirit, I started to really pursue it because it reaffirmed to me that the True Jesus Church was the true church.

I thought about attending the National Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS) in 2004 because I would have a lot of time to pray and study the word of God. However, I was afraid that my parents wouldn’t let me go because they didn’t like the idea of me staying overnight somewhere else.

Also, I would have to fly out to California, and I knew that they wouldn’t like me traveling so far on my own. I decided that I would ask for permission to go the next year because I would be a year older and they might be more open to letting me go.

Over the next few months, I felt very moved every time I turned to read the Bible during sermons and in religious education classes. I felt my faith increase and my depression lessen as I learned more about the Bible. I was particularly encouraged by Matthew 17:20:

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

So I started to pray a few months before I asked my parents about going to NYTS. I prayed to the Lord knowing that if He could move mountains, He could help me go to NYTS. Thank God, when I asked if I could go to NYTS, my parents said it was okay. My faith increased after this because I saw how my prayers were answered.

My Mission at NYTS

Before going to NYTS in 2005, I made it my mission to receive the Holy Spirit by the end of the two-week seminar. I felt so close to God and wanted to do a lot of work for Him, but I couldn’t do much because I didn’t have the Holy Spirit. So I told everyone at Queens Church that I really wanted to get the Holy Spirit this time.

It was already more than two years since I received baptism, yet I still had not received the Holy Spirit. I had heard many stories of other members’ experiences, how some had received it on the very last day of NYTS, how some people prayed for forty years before receiving it, or how some received it the very first time they prayed in church.

I was so determined to receive the Holy Spirit at NYTS that year; I fasted every day and prayed with all my heart in every prayer session. It felt like the hardest thing I had ever done.

At the end of the first week of NYTS, some members from Queens came to cook for the participants. One of the sisters asked if I had received the Holy Spirit yet. I was feeling a little discouraged, but she comforted me and told me to keep trying.

I knew that the Queens members and my group members at NYTS were praying for me, so I tried not to be so down on myself. I thought that if I continued to be downhearted that God wouldn’t give me the Holy Spirit.

In my prayers, I thought about the creation:

            In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Gen 1:1, 2)

I thought how I was like the earth and filled with darkness and God’s Spirit was hovering over me but not yet in me. I knew that it was my pride that hindered God’s Holy Spirit from entering into me because I always used my own strength to make it through life. I needed to let go and understand that it was God who controlled everything; God was the one whom I could rely on and place my worries and burdens upon.

This struggle for the Holy Spirit was a test of my faith, and I told God that I wasn’t leaving NYTS without the Holy Spirit. I wanted to go to heaven with the brothers and sisters. I wanted to go together with them to see our Lord.

The day before NYTS ended, a pastor’s wife told me that I was very close to receiving the Holy Spirit and that all the pastors agreed that I just had to pray a little harder and I would get it. So I was even more encouraged after that.

I prayed to God that if He would give me His Holy Spirit, I would serve Him for the rest of my life. I would give Him my all because I owed Him everything.

After the morning prayer of the last day, a pastor told me that I had received the Holy Spirit. I hadn’t noticed my tongue moving, so I didn’t think that I had received it. I told a sister that I wasn’t sure because I didn’t notice anything different when I prayed, but she told me not to doubt because God might take the Holy Spirit away if I doubted.

I went up to the front to pray during the concluding prayer of NYTS. I decided not to doubt but to believe that I had the Holy Spirit, and I felt my tongue rolling. I knew that I really had received it. I was so thankful and filled with joy.

I am now a very different person compared to who I was before coming to Christ. I used to shed so many tears and was constantly unhappy. But now I understand that for Christians, even though life is not easy and sometimes we shed tears because of our suffering, we still have hope.

Without God, I wouldn’t be here today. I felt so lost in the past—I didn’t know what would happen to me, and I had no idea what my future would be like. Now I know that there’s a purpose for all of us. As for me, my purpose in life is to serve my Lord, my Master.

I have experienced so much grace from God and am very comforted knowing that there is a Creator who understands me. I used to feel that no one could ever understand my pain and suffering because they weren’t in the same position as me. But now, whenever I pray, I know that God is there and He sympathizes and knows exactly how I feel when I cry out to Him.

Knowing that God understands me gives me strength to live day by day. I have nothing to fear because God has already told me that He is my God and will be with me. 

            “So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa 41:10)

PDF Download

Author: Wun-Chiao Cheung
Print
Email
Feedback