Jonathon Chou—Hillsborough, New
In January 2017, Elder Jonathan Chou retired after working thirty-one
years as a full-time preacher. Manna invited him to share his experiences in
faith and service to the Lord with the youths of the church.
Hallelujah! Greetings of peace, in the holy name of Jesus, to our youths
in the Lord. May the grace of the Lord be with you always!
Coming to the True Church
My father fell
ill when he was forty-two years old. His baffled doctors were at their wits end
trying to cure his mysterious sickness. One of our elderly relatives—a member
of the True Jesus Church—brought her fellow church members to our house
to pray for my father. When they came, my father was lying on the bed, almost
unconscious. But as they prayed, he saw a vision; he was then filled with the
Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. He could feel his body lifted up, and found
himself bouncing up and down on the bed in a kneeling position. After this, he
was completely healed by the Lord. Hence, our entire family was baptized. We
were a family saved—both literally and spiritually. The Lord had restored our father to
us, reuniting a family on the brink of disintegration. And we continued to live
a life of peace and joy in the Lord. My father lived to the ripe old age of
eighty before he rested in the Lord. Till this day, his testimony remains
constantly in my mind.
Growing and Serving in the True
I was baptized
not long after birth and am considered a second-generation believer in the True
Jesus Church. Growing up in the church, I have witnessed Gods great power and
infinite grace. After working in secular society for ten years, I was very
grateful to receive the opportunity to join the full-time ministry. The more
abundantly I experienced grace and love from God, as I learned and served Him,
the more unworthy I felt.
Young brethren in
the Lord! Every young man and woman has aspirations and dreams for the future.
I believe you are no different. You have been raised in the era of information
explosion—the digital age—a world of artificial intelligence and rapidly
advancing cutting-edge technologies. You live in an epoch where cultural
development is at its peak. Such progress has irreversibly changed our human
values—modern mans thirst for materialistic fulfillment and instant
gratification of his desires is overwhelming. While life will present you with
vast opportunities, it will also be full of challenges and snares. The smarter
man becomes, the less he will rely on God. The more a man pursues social status
and accumulation of wealth, the more he will neglect his faith, and the more
easily he will lose himself to the base precepts of the world.
Persevering to the End
Young brethren in
the Lord! We must truly understand what a supreme blessing it is to be of the
chosen children of God. We have received the word of life, the true grace of
God, so we ought to stand firm in this grace (1 Pet 5:12). Amongst the brethren
I grew up with in church, some are still holding fast to the truth and
fervently loving the Lord; I thank the Lord in every remembrance of this.
However, there are also many who have lost the truth and left God; this thought
grieves me. More recently, some youths have openly expressed their many doubts
in their own faith. Consequently, they distance themselves from the church,
causing all of us in the church much sadness and regret.
In our world
today, there are many opportunities for success and growth. People generally
believe that intelligence and hard work will lead a man (or woman) to success,
wealth, a respectable social status and a luxurious life. The church also hopes
to see her youths succeed in their studies and work, to contribute to society.
However, we must remember that our hopes are not merely for and in this life. A
Christian must have a more profound vision to see the true significance and
value of human life. The Bible tells us that, by faith, Moses grew up and let
go of his status as the grandson of the king, as well as the riches in the
palace. Unwilling to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, Moses chose to suffer
with the people of God, looking forward to the future reward. By faith, he saw
the Lord who is invisible (Heb 11:23V25). David started off as a shepherd boy
and became the king of a nation. However, he was not complacent over the glory
and pleasures he enjoyed as a king. Instead, he sought to always be in Gods
temple, inquiring of the Lord and beholding the beauty of the Lord. He was just
waiting to see the Lords face, and to awake in the Lords likeness (Ps 27:4; 17:14V15).
Only God is able to give us all-encompassing joy and peace, and the everlasting
Cherish and Use Your Youth
Young brethren in
the Lord! Youth is a prime period. You ought to seize this time to know the
Lord your Creator, to fear Him and rely on Him to guide your way (Ps 25:12).
Mans times are in Gods hands (Ps 31:15). As the proverb goes: A mans heart
plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps (Prov 16:9). The Preacher wrote:
The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the
wiseKBut time and chance happen to them all (Eccl 9:11). Solomon also urged:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Prov 3:5). It
is God who gives you the power to create wealth (Deut 8:18).
chosen and blessed by God, so that he might command his children to keep the
way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice. If Abraham did so, God would
fulfill what He had promised to him (Gen 18:18V19). On account of Abraham, God
also blessed Isaac (Gen 26:3V5). He had his fathers faith and thus obeyed Gods
instruction by sowing in Gerar. Despite the great famine, Isaac reaped in the
same year a hundredfold (Gen 26:12V13). Although the local residents eyed him
jealously, and the needs of his cattle compelled him to move around constantly,
Isaac would build an altar to inquire of the Lord every time he arrived at a
new place, even before he set up his tent and dug wells (Gen 26:25).
worshipping God took precedence over his family, which came second, with his
livelihood in third place—this is precisely the model for our pursuit of
a successful life. Apart from living for ourselves, we must make resolutions
for the Lord, live for the Lord, and manifest Christ in our lives. Like the
saints of old, we marry and have children, walk with God, faithfully practice
the words of the Lord, fear God and love man. If we build this good foundation
of faith for ourselves, and hold fast to eternal life, then we would have
attained lifes true significance and value.
Young brethren in
the Lord! Human life is short; let us not waste precious time. It feels like
just yesterday when I was working hard to complete my studies and build my
career. In a blink of an eye, I have become this old retiree. Memories of
yesteryear are still vivid in my mind. However, the past is like the ephemeral
mist at dawn. A person is like a sojourner in this life, and life is like a
cloud and a dream. Beautiful moments, like flowers, will eventually wither and
fall. Only our labor in the Lord will never be in vain (1 Cor 15:58). Mans hope
is definitely not in this life alone, so what profit is it to a man if he gains
the whole world, and loses his own soul (Mt 16:26a)? Once a man leaves God, he
is like a branch detached from the tree—he can do nothing
(Jn 15:5V6). Once upon a time, King Solomon used all his energies and abilities
to pursue wisdom, status, wealth and pleasure. However, once he gained
everything he desired, he realized that everything under the sun is but vanity,
and all effort little more than grasping for the wind. Having spent his entire
life searching, he came to this conclusion: Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is mans all (Eccl 12:13); and everyone has to face up to Gods
[D]o not look at
the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things
which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2
[May God] give to
you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of
your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His
calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and
what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according
to the working of His mighty power. (Eph 1:17V19)
Beware of Evil
Young brethren in
the Lord! Since the days of old, advanced civilization is often accompanied by
the proliferation of evil, which eventually leads to the judgment and
destruction of God. The Lord Jesus reminded us to remember the days of Noah.
The people then were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day that Noah entered the ark. They were oblivious until the flood
came and destroyed everything (Mt 24:37V39). The sulphuric fire upon the city
of Sodom, the fall of great Babylon overnight, the city of Pompeii—filled
with music, dance, revelry and extreme indulgence, turned into ashes in the
blink of an eye as the volcano erupted—history is replete with many more examples that
serve as warnings for us.
We must be
discerning and recognize that we are living in the last days, which is an evil
time. The devil knows his days are coming to an end, so he will use all his might
and employ all kinds of trickery to deceive and tempt man into sin. Perilous
times have come; let us not sleep, but instead watch, remain sober and pray.
The will of God is for us to abstain from sexual immorality; each of us should
know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor (1 Thess 4:3V5).
You must emulate the ancient saints in being the righteous people of your
generation. Learn from Noah, Daniel and Job—they delivered
themselves by their righteousness when faced with Gods judgment (Ezek 14:14).
The hearts of people were evil during Noahs time, and they were thus destroyed
by the flood. Only Noah, who was righteous and blameless, obeyed Gods every
instruction. Moved with godly fear, he prepared an ark and saved his household
(Heb 11:7). Solomon said: Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your
heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and
in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into
judgment (Eccl 11:9). You must be separated and consecrated—come out
from sinful Babylon, lest calamity befalls you because of your sins (Rev
Treasure His Grace
Dear brethren in
the Lord! We were once Gentiles who were unworthy. However, in the Lords
exceedingly abundant grace, He chose us. Like wild olive branches that have
been grafted onto good olive trees, we must truly treasure this grace bestowed
upon us, and hold fast to His word to the end (Rom 11:24V26). Be like Paul, who
was determined to keep himself in the love of the Lord, writing that neither
death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present
nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be
able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom
8:35V39). May the grace of our true God, the love of our Christ Jesus and the
movement of the Holy Spirit abide with us all, generation
after generation, forever and ever. Amen.