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 (Manna 85: TJC at 100 – Towards the Triumphant Church)
Following God’s Calling
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Following God’s Calling

Editor’s note: The Scriptures tell us that the true church will eventually reach perfection and be glorified by God. But as we strive to reach this goal, we need workers to dedicate themselves to serve in the ministry. In fact, since this process of perfection is God’s work, God Himself will raise up workers. Many are called, but few are chosen. Who are the chosen ones? Those who boldly accept God’s calling. In the following testimonies, three writers share their personal journeys towards full-time ministry, how God called them and continues to guide and walk with them, every step of the way.

Choices: My Family’s and Mine

Derren Liang—Irvine, California, USA

Our lives are defined by the choices we make. For me, the greatest decision I have made in my life was to dedicate myself to be a full-time minister. However, the roots of this choice were not planted by me: I did not choose this faith. As a second-generation believer, I received my faith from my parents. The choices they made changed their lives (and those of their children) eternally.

MY FATHER’S CHOICE TO BELIEVE

In 1951, while my father and his brother were on a shopping trip in Taipei, they came across a sign that read “True Jesus Church.” My father, a Presbyterian at the time, was very indignant. He thought to himself, Why do they call themselves “true,” suggesting other churches are not? So he marched into the True Jesus Church to demand an explanation. During that session, a minister explained the doctrines of the church to my father, who realized that they all made sense. He could see that their basic beliefs were from the Bible. After the discussion, as my father was leaving, the minister told him that he could pray and receive the Holy Spirit.

My father took the invitation to pray for the Holy Spirit to heart. He fervently prayed at home, and was overjoyed when he received the Holy Spirit. Not only did he understand the truth, he was able to experience the precious Holy Spirit. Eventually, he brought his five siblings and their families to be baptized into the True Jesus Church.

MY RELATIVES’ CHOICE TO BELIEVE: DISTURBANCE FROM THE DEVIL

Thirsting for the truth, my extended family willingly converted to the True Jesus Church. However, as new believers, they neither fully understood the Bible nor had full discernment when it came to spiritual matters. After praying for the Holy Spirit, they seemed to have received Him. However, they soon felt that something was amiss, although they were unsure what. The spirit they had received could predict certain things. These relatives were vegetable farmers who sold their produce at the market. The spirit in them could prophesy which kind of vegetables would sell well the next day, and which would not. If my relatives heeded the spirit’s forecast and took those vegetables to market, everything would be sold quickly. If they ignored the spirit’s prediction, their vegetables would be left unsold, even up until noon.

Later on, these relatives became more fervent. They started to fast and pray, even skipping work to do so, saying that the Lord Jesus would come soon. At one point, a few of them saw an aeroplane flying backwards in the sky. They were puzzled but, in their inexperience, did not understand what was going on. They just knew that a powerful spirit was involved. Besides making predictions, this spirit could also reveal what wrongs had been committed by other people. It was so accurate that others started to fear them.

The church came to know of these happenings when workers made a routine visit for newly baptized families. Through prayer, these workers discerned that the spirit was an evil one. When the workers helped my relatives realize this, the spirit fled. By God’s grace, when my relatives knelt down to pray again, they truly received the Holy Spirit and were filled with joy.

Lesson of Faith 1: Test Every Spirit

My relatives’ experience shows that we cannot believe every spirit (1 Jn 4:1). Even after believing in Jesus Christ, it is possible to receive a spirit that is not from God. We must thus be vigilant and build up our ability to discern.

MY FATHER’S CHOICE TO ENTER THE MINISTRY

My father was a teacher, but after his baptism, he aspired to serve the Lord. One night, he dreamed of a train that was destined for heaven. He opened his suitcase to look for his ticket, but he found that there were just too many things packed inside. By the time he found his boarding pass, the train had left. The message was clear: he was tied down by many secular tasks, and if he continued to be bound by these, he would find it difficult to enter heaven. Hence, he decided to enroll in the church’s theological seminary, and was accepted into the first cohort of full-time theological training program students.

After my father joined the ministry, my mother had to raise the family on her own.  Although we were poor, my mother loved to offer to God. On one occasion, the local church requested contributions to help fund the construction of a church building. My mother promised to donate a sum that was equal to half of my father’s living expenses. When my father returned home and heard what my mother had done, he was upset. He said to my mother, “I have offered myself to serve the Lord full time. Why do you create another burden for yourself?” What an irony—the evangelist objecting to his wife making an offering to God!

When my father returned to the church he was pastoring, his body started to itch. He tried applying topical creams, and even prayed for healing, but to no avail. He reflected on his behavior: Is this happening to me because I opposed my wife’s offering? He then prayed to God, “If I am suffering for my wrongdoing, I repent.” After this prayer, the itch disappeared. Amazingly, the amount of money he had spent on the medicine was the same amount that my mother had intended to offer! It was a timely reminder that the ability to offer is indeed grace from God.

Notwithstanding my father’s repentance, we still had a problem: where would we find the money that my mother had pledged to the church building fund? My father decided we should raise piglets. Miraculously, the pigs thrived and, within six months, we had sold them and offered the pledged amount to church.

Lesson of Faith 2: God’s Grace is Sufficient

The God we worship is the source of living water. If we do what is pleasing in His eyes, we need not worry, for God will sustain us. For instance, in the countryside where we lived, there was only a line dividing my family’s fields from those belonging to our non-believing neighbors. We sowed the same seeds and used the same water to irrigate our fields. However, there was a noticeable difference between our crops and those of our neighbors. Even the non-believers could see how much more fertile our fields were compared to their own. They did not understand how this could happen, but we knew that it was the blessing of God.

My father often encouraged us to serve the Lord throughout our lives. Do not put off service until you are advanced in age; give God your best while you are still young.

MY MOTHER’S CHOICES IN SPIRITUAL NURTURE AND DIVINE SERVICE

Lesson of Faith 3: Pray Unceasingly

Besides her spirit of offering, my mother was also a sterling exemplar in prayer. She loved to pray, waking up at 5 a.m. to pray until 7 a.m.; and she would always have a long prayer before bed, even if she was exhausted. When filled with the Holy Spirit, she would sing spiritual songs; at times, she was so joyful that she would wake us up to pray with her. In our prayers, we always felt God guiding our family. Though our lives were simple, joy filled our days.

Note: Materially Poor, Spiritually Rich

My life as a child was a stark contrast to life today. Up until I left elementary school, I had never worn shoes. Unlike the youth of today, who grow up in front of screens and are sheltered from nature, we climbed trees, chased birds, caught fish in the canal, and swam in rural ponds. Prayer was a source of great joy to us. Despite our poverty, we led fulfilling lives. Most importantly, we drew nearer to God and enjoyed His presence in our lives.

My father passed away after serving the Lord for ten years. At forty-six years of age, my mother had to shoulder the burden of feeding and caring for the whole family. Yet, she did not allow this to affect her life of prayer. Despite her intense sorrow at my father’s demise, she was able to rely on God. Whenever she sang spiritual songs in prayer, her sorrows were lifted. The Holy Spirit comforted her.

My mother’s prayerfulness had wide and long-lasting impact. My parents had five children; all five of us married in the Lord and are preserved in the Lord to this day. Apart from God’s grace, I have always felt that the most important factor was my mother’s unceasing prayers.

Lesson of Faith 4: Serve with Diligence

Another of my mother’s virtues was her diligence. She got up early, slept late, and worked tirelessly throughout the day. She also applied this attitude to serving the Lord, particularly in her determination to complete every task she undertook. This is an enduring example to her children. When my mother was given the opportunity to live in the church to serve God, she was thankful to be able to fulfill her desire to serve. She would ensure that every floor was thoroughly cleaned, and every blanket was properly washed and odor-free. Her belief was, Not only must I finish the work of God, but I must do it properly. I answer not to man, but to God.

MY CHOICES

Staying in Church and Experiencing God’s Guidance

When I was in high school, my brothers enlisted in the army and my mother moved to the city. Left to live alone, I decided to move into the church. The three years I lived in church changed my life. I had no family living nearby, so after school I would head straight back to church and spend between thirty minutes to an hour in prayer. I was often filled with the Holy Spirit and with joy. Indeed, that was one of the most joyful periods of my life.

In my second year of high school, my prayers became particularly earnest. “Lord, I do not have my parents here to guide me. Oh Lord, please guide me!” was my constant supplication. On one occasion, while I was deep in prayer, a thought was carved deeply on my heart: God wants me to serve Him. After that prayer, every time I thought about serving the Lord, I would be moved to tears. This could happen when I was at school, when I was riding my bicycle, or when I was lying down to sleep. Even though I was still in high school, God had let me know what He wanted me to do. This thought, imprinted on my heart, would eventually lead me to enter the full-time ministry.

From University to Ministry

In my third year of university, another thought was planted in my mind during prayer. It was that God wanted to lead me to America and use me there. I was puzzled why such a thought would pop into my mind. I wondered whether I had imagined it, or whether it was truly God’s will. I pondered on this for a long time, but I had no answer. Yet, the thought of serving God still moved me to tears. I shared my uncertainty with a preacher, who advised me to watch and wait. If God were the source of this thought, it would surely happen. So I decided to let things fall into place naturally.

After university, I enlisted in the army. For six months, I attended an infantry academy as part of the basic infantry training that all university graduates were required to undergo. After this, I was posted to the paratroopers unit. Soon after, I realized that I was not suited to this role. Paratrooper cadets were selected specifically for their physical strength and stamina. They were expected to run with machine guns—something I found difficult to do. On one occasion, while crawling on the ground during an exercise, I told God that I really could not handle this. If I could not live up to the physical demands of training, how would I be able to lead a platoon of thirty men? As I prayed, the moving of the Spirit within my heart told me God had heard my prayer.

Not long after, I was chosen—as a civil engineering and construction graduate—to oversee the building of army barracks for the paratroopers. This meant that I had regular working hours, and no longer needed to undertake such extreme physical training. The barracks were not built in the end. But, indeed, we can cast all our cares—no matter how big or small—on our Lord who truly cares for us.

As the end of my army service drew near, I had no idea what my next step should be. On a train home from the army camp, I thought about my choices. Some of my classmates had entered the workforce, some had continued their studies, and others had moved overseas. What should I do? As I reflected, the Holy Spirit moved me to tears. The person sitting next to me kept staring at me in puzzlement. His confusion was a counterpoint to my clarity and certainty—I had to serve the Lord. Therefore, I joined the theological seminary in Taichung and entered the ministry.

Coming to America

In 1981, at the World Delegates’ Conference held in Taiwan, the United States General Assembly submitted a proposal: to help church workers go to the United States (US) to learn English. When I saw that proposal, I knew that my time had come and that God had opened the way. However, I did not put myself forward to the International Assembly (IA), as I wanted to see how God would guide. Indeed, the IA passed the proposal, and decided they would send two candidates to the US. Elder John Yang informed me that I was one of the chosen ministers. Thus, the idea of serving the Lord in the US was indeed from the Lord. Truly, if we seek the Lord, He will reveal His will for us.

I started preparing to go to the US. First, I applied for a theological program at a seminary run by another Christian denomination, with the purpose of improving my English. As part of the application, I had to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Despite not having taken a test since university and having only a short timeframe to study for it, I attained the score required by the school. This was yet another one of God’s mighty works.

The next problem soon popped up. I did not realize that, back then, the Taiwan government only granted Taiwanese students permission to travel to America if they were accepted into certain universities; Taiwanese were restricted from leaving the country for religious purposes. What was I to do? I suddenly remembered that I had also applied for other university research programs. One of these universities had accepted my application and had sent me an admission letter. Better yet, this university was on the Taiwanese government’s approved list of universities. Therefore, I used this letter to obtain a passport from the Taiwanese government, before applying for a US visa.

CONCLUSION: RIGHT CHOICES BRING ABUNDANT BLESSING

In retrospect, I can clearly see how God has guided my every step. I came to the US with little, but with God’s guidance, I have everything I need today. My three daughters were able to complete their tertiary educations without taking any loans, which seems impossible on a preacher’s salary. By God’s grace and miraculous ways, it was indeed possible. He provided for all our needs. Many believers who came to the US empty-handed have had the same experience of God’s providence.

My mother used to say, “If you do not have something to do each day, then what is the point of your life?” This motivated her to serve the Lord every single day, giving her life value and meaning. This is why I have always thought the best way to live my life is to serve God. Even though we may lead simple lives with few possessions, we can be filled with peace and joy.

I often ask myself, If I were to live my life again, would I make the same decisions? Indeed, I am certain that, if the Lord were to move me, I would take the same path. Like others, I have experienced the pain of seeing co-workers depart from the truth, but this is a useful reminder to all of us who serve, to be vigilant and watchful. Only then can we complete this path of service, and be able to give a joyful account to the Lord when we see Him on the last day.

May all glory and praise be unto His holy name! Amen.

We Are God’s Workmanship

Samuel Kuo—Flushing, New York, USA

            For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10)

Every creation has a purpose. Take a look at the things around you—the roof over your head, the clothes on your body, even the typeface of this text—they have been made for specific purposes.

Our existence is no exception. Jesus Christ created and called us for His purpose. As Paul wrote in Ephesians, we were created in Him for good works—works that have been prepared long beforehand for us to accomplish. Fulfilling these works means we are living out our Creator’s purpose for us—the epitome of a successful life.

My First Calling

The first half of 2004 was my final semester at university. Throughout that school year, I had prayed over what I should do after graduation. I was interning at Motorola at the time, and they had offered me a full-time position. Therefore, I prayed to see if it was God’s will for me to take this job, or to do something else. All this while, I pondered over my calling in life. What was my life’s purpose?

During spring break that year, I met with my resident preacher, Preacher Derren Liang, to discuss some local church matters. I took this opportunity to seek his advice on my future. During my university years, I had become more involved in the church’s literary and internet ministry, so serving in this area was also a possibility.

Preacher Liang advised me to consider applying for the full-time theological training program, explaining that a sound theological foundation was necessary for writing edifying works. Before I left, he added, “Right now, we really lack English-speaking preachers.” This statement stayed with me, as I had always thought that my birth in the United States, with English being my strongest language, was no accident.

After that session, as I drove home, tears welled up in my eyes. I wondered, Is God calling me to be a preacher? However, I quieted those thoughts, rationalizing that if God wanted to call me, He would make it very clear.

A few days later, our campus fellowship group visited members in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. That Friday evening, we lodged at the church in Philadelphia. As I was assigned interpretation duties for Sabbath services the following day, I stayed up late to read the Bible and pray in the church hall.

My prayer started liked any other. Soon, as I shifted my focus to pray about my future, I reflected on my recent conversation with Preacher Liang. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit moved me with great intensity. It was like nothing I had experienced before, or since. It reached the point where I could no longer pray in tongues because I was weeping so much.

In my spirit, I knew that Jesus was telling me, “Serve me as a preacher.”

However, my immediate reaction was, “No, it can’t be me, it can’t be me!” I felt unworthy, and did not think my personality or my gifts were suited to this ministry. There was a struggle within my heart. After five to ten minutes of internal wrestling, I finally realized that I could not deny God. In my heart, I finally said, “Okay.” At that moment, God’s tremendous love poured into my heart. I could resume praying in tongues, and I concluded my prayer about ten minutes later. As I was walking upstairs to bed, I realized that God had not answered my specific questions about my future. But He had given me a clear direction to work towards.

 

In the weeks that followed, I came to understand that God was not telling me to apply for theological training immediately. Besides, I was only twenty-one years old, and the minimum age requirement set by the United States General Assembly (USGA) was twenty-three. God was telling me that, while this was the path I would tread, I needed to prepare myself first.

 

Growing up, I had always attended churches with large congregations, so my faith was bolstered by a stable spiritual environment. But this made me question my motivations for serving God. Was I doing it because of reputation—because it was expected? To impress people? Therefore, I decided to take up graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which was two-and-a-half hours’ drive from the nearest True Jesus Church. As I prayed, God seemed to be telling me that it would be good spiritual training: an opportunity for me to examine the substance of my faith and my service.

My Second Calling

After I moved to Illinois in August 2004, the initial period was fresh and exciting. It was the first time I had lived away from my home state. But after one month, I realized I was not as strong as I had thought. My faith was declining, as were my academic grades. I started to doubt: Does God really want to use me? If I change, does God’s will change? Doubts crept into my mind over the next year or so. I was unsure of where I stood in God’s presence.

In January 2006, during the winter break, I attended a church seminar for Africa ministry volunteers. During the first evening prayer, encouraged by the preceding message, I prayed diligently. I told God, “God, I do not know where I stand before You.” I realized how unworthy I was in His presence. I continued, “God, You knew me even before I was in my mother’s womb. All of my ugliness, You know. But if You are willing to use me, I will serve You.”

I was so moved during that prayer that I continued to fast and pray during dinnertime. In prayer, it seemed like I had entered into a spiritual dimension, where I spoke directly to God. I asked Him many questions, expressing my doubts and worries about full-time service. “What about my introverted personality? What about my lack of eloquence? Will a sister be willing to marry me? What about finances? I have not been able to convert any of my friends—would I be any good as a preacher?”

Yet, to every question I asked, it seemed God simply responded, “Don’t worry about it.” After that prayer, I sensed God’s gracious affirmation. It was a second calling.

My Third Calling

I graduated with a master’s degree in May 2006. Thank God, I promptly secured a job in Texas. Before starting work, I attended the National Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS). Within the first two days, Preacher Vuthy Nol-Mantia, who was a theological student and NYTS counsellor at the time, approached me. Knowing that I had graduated and found a job, he was interested in my next steps, since I had previously shared with him my first calling.

Preacher Vuthy asked, “Have you been thinking about marriage?” Without disclosing her name, I told Preacher Vuthy that I had a sister in mind, but did not know if it was God’s time for me to approach her. He advised me to tell the sister so that, if she accepts the possibility of being a preacher’s wife, she could prepare herself. I kept this matter in prayer for the rest of the seminar.

For many years, I had thought Joyce was a good sister. She was also Preacher Liang’s daughter, and I was not sure how he would react to his daughter entering a relationship, since she was only twenty-one. At that time, Joyce and I were just friends. We did not really talk much and I had not made an effort to stay in touch while I was at graduate school. I was also very shy around her. I was worried about making things awkward between us if I approached her and the timing turned out to be wrong.

Therefore, I decided to speak with Preacher Liang, who was an instructor at the NYTS. If he said, “No, we cannot accept you,” then I would just let it go. If he said, “Wait,” then I would wait. To avoid making her feel uncomfortable, Joyce did not even have to know about this conversation. During the chat, I plucked up the courage and confessed, “I like your daughter, and I wondered what your thoughts are about me starting a relationship with her.”

Honestly, I thought he would say, “It’s too early.” Thankfully, he said, “Why don’t you sit down with Joyce and talk to her before she goes to Taiwan?” She was going to Taiwan a few weeks later to study Chinese for a year. “We’d be happy to see what God’s will is.” I was very surprised that he gave me the green light. I immediately called my parents and spoke with them too.

One week later, straight after the NYTS, Joyce and I were attending another seminar. I was distracted the whole time. Finally, on the last day, I found an opportunity to have a private conversation with her. After sharing with her about my calling, I asked her if she could pray about two matters: first was my future ministry, and second, whether she would be willing to join me on this journey.

I expected her to ask for a couple of weeks to pray before giving me her answer, as becoming a minister’s wife is no small decision. Yet, she gave an immediate response: “My answer is yes.”

I was surprised. “Wow, how come you are so certain?”

She told me that two years earlier, in April and May of 2004, she felt that God was repeatedly telling her the same message in her prayers: “You will serve Me all your life. You will be a preacher’s wife.” So, with me approaching her two years later, it seemed a perfect match. It was something she had been quietly anticipating. I did not realize that God would even call a preacher’s wife!

Later that day, I flew to Texas to start my new job. Throughout that entire flight, I was in a state of awe; I felt so humbled. I could not understand why God would do this for someone like me.

To me, it was a third calling. The first two were during my personal prayers with God, but this third calling was confirmed through a third party. All my lingering doubts dissolved and I completely surrendered to Jesus. I just told God, “You’ve convinced me. Although I do not know what will happen in the future, I trust You.”

After her stint in Taiwan, Joyce returned to the States and completed her master’s program. A week after her graduation, we were married. Later that same year, I was accepted into the theological training program. In November 2014, I was ordained as a full-time preacher.

Looking back, I cannot but humbly thank God for His mercy and guidance every step of the way. Things were often unclear. However, God is my Creator, and He graciously revealed His purpose for me—a purpose that I shall continually strive to fulfill.

Society’s definition of success typically revolves around fulfilling dreams, self-actualization, attaining wealth, or some variation of these. Unfortunately, we Christians often become engrossed in pursuing this definition of success too. While worldly success is not forbidden, our primary concern should be to fulfill the intents of our Maker. The call to full-time ministry does not happen to everyone, but the principle remains. We are His workmanship, created to accomplish good works.

Are you fulfilling your Creator’s purpose?

 

Feed My Sheep

En-Ping Liu—Tamsui, Taiwan

            He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep. (Jn 21:17)

As believers in the true church of God, we have been purchased by the blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28), and were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). Have you ever wondered why God chose you? The answer is simply that He loves you. If we can see how tirelessly God calls us back when we start to stray, we would never leave His church. For me, this redeeming love has compelled me to present my body as a living sacrifice to God. This is my story.

TURNING AWAY FROM GOD

I grew up as a True Jesus Church member in Tamsui, northern Taiwan. My childhood was carefree, and attending church services was a normal part of my routine—this, to me, was how simple it was to live a faithful life. When I was in senior year of high school, my carefree days were suddenly cut short—my family met with a financial crisis and almost went bankrupt. At the time, my family members began to lose their pure faith in God. We no longer had time for church, and any money-related discussions would lead to arguments. Experiencing such pressure at home, I prayed to God that I could enroll at a college far away.

God indeed answered my prayer: I ended up at a college in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan, about five hour’s drive from Tamsui. This provided the perfect excuse for not visiting my family so often. Deep down, I just wanted to escape.

In an attempt to put family troubles behind me, I dedicated most of my time to extra-curricular activities at college. Although I knew that church was important, I only attended when I had spare time; college activities always came first. As I indulged in these worldly pursuits, my values gradually changed, and I even had a non-believing girlfriend for a time.

By the mercy of God, the members of my church varsity fellowship never gave up on me. They prayed that I would return to the love of God and to church, and endeavoured to keep in touch. On one occasion, I met three of them for dinner. I thought they would scold me for not attending church services, but instead, they just asked about my studies. Even though they did not mention church, I knew deep in my heart that they wanted me to return, and I knew that God had sent them to me. Because of their sincere love, I broke up with my girlfriend and started attending church services again.

God’s mercy was like a rope that kept drawing me back. Time and again, different brethren conveyed the same message to me: God is more important than anything in this world. Whenever my faith was low, their care lifted me up. In the end, God’s love compelled me to devote myself to attending church services and to studying His words.

THE LORD HAS NEED OF YOU

In 2012, during my third year of college, I attended a student spiritual convocation. Listening to the many teachings, I realized it was God’s mercy that I was able to attend the event and study His words. I was inspired to dedicate the rest of my life to God. A thought formed in my mind: I want to be a preacher. In one class, a deacon shared an English hymn with us, and asked if anyone could provide Mandarin interpretation for the class. “Is there anyone who majors in English?” he asked. “The Lord has need of you!”

I was shocked. I was an English student—was the Lord calling me so soon? My fellow students pointed me out to the deacon, so I had no choice but to stand up to interpret. However, I buckled under the pressure—I could not translate a single word. Sitting down, I told myself, God has need of me, but I am not yet prepared.

FEED MY SHEEP

Half a year later, I attended the Youth Theological Training Program (YTTP). I was so moved by the words of God that I decided to return over the next two years to complete the three-year-program, to cultivate myself spiritually. I also began to wake up early to pray before lessons started.

In my third year of YTTP, I was elected to be class leader, much to my surprise. I asked God why He would choose me—how could I lead the whole class when I had once strayed so far in my faith? But the phrase “the Lord has need of you” kept coming to mind. I felt that God wanted to train me so that I could stand firm before Him. Therefore, I prayed earnestly to prepare myself before the event started, but I did not foresee the challenges that I would face.

There was one particular incident during my time as class leader where God exposed my shortcomings and spoke to me. I was informed that some students had been blatantly sleeping during lessons, so during one of my sharing sessions I spoke sternly to the class. As anger rose within me, I rebuked them: “If you don’t want to learn the words of God, just get out of here!” Afterwards, I was upset with myself for speaking so harshly, so I went to the prayer room to pray, repenting before God for scolding His sheep.

To my astonishment, a gentle thought—not quite a voice—came from the depths of my heart. It said, “En-Ping, do you love Me?”

I knew in my spirit that this was God’s voice, so I shouted from my heart, “Lord, of course I love You! That’s why I’m here!”

Then the gentle voice spoke three words: “Feed My sheep.”

On hearing this, I started to cry. I finally realized that the action of loving God is to feed His sheep. Once again, the idea of becoming a preacher came into my mind. I knew I was not worthy of taking up His ministry, but I told God, “If You need me, I am willing.”

GOD CONFIRMS HIS CALLING

I felt that I had received God’s calling to become a preacher, but I could not be completely sure. If it was indeed God’s will, I would apply for the theological training program (TTP) as soon as possible. The minimum age for TTP applicants in Taiwan is twenty-five years old, so I had to wait. In the meantime, I asked God to confirm His will to me.

1. My Family Returns

I could have stayed near my college after graduation, but I chose to move back home instead. Since my family had departed from church, I thought it would be difficult for me to become a preacher. Therefore, before I spoke to my family about God or any faith-related matter, I would pray earnestly, sometimes with fasting. I would then share with my family what I had learned at church, and encourage them to have faith in God. I prayed to God: “If it is indeed Your will for me to apply for the theological seminary, please bring my family back to church.”

It was a long process but God answered my prayers. At first, my family refused to take my advice, but as they listened to my encouragements, God gradually changed their hearts. One summer night in 2014, I caught sight of my family praying together. I knew that this was the green light for me to apply for the TTP.

2. His Servant Prays for Me

In September 2014, I was conscripted into military service. At the beginning, I had to attend training for three months straight. But luckily, I could still take weekends off. Many spiritual convocations were happening around that time, so I looked for one taking place nearby. There was a prayer house holding convocation on a day that I was free—I believe that this was God’s arrangement for me.

During the services, I listened carefully to the preacher’s message. When it was time to pray, I walked to the front for the laying of hands. I earnestly prayed for confirmation that I should become a preacher and for guidance in my preparations. After we finished praying, the preacher began to introduce the members of the congregation. When he reached me, the preacher said, “I saw this brother praying very hard, so when I laid hands on him, I prayed for him—that he could become a preacher one day.”

I was shocked and excited by his words. Afterwards, I eagerly asked how he knew what I was praying for, even though I had never met him before. He just smiled and said, “Thank God, it was the movement of the Spirit. Keep praying! He will lead you.”

3. A Message on a Card

By God’s grace, in October 2014, I was given an alternative option in the military service. Instead of training at the barracks, I only needed to teach at a school for high school dropouts. Near this school was the small church at Beipu, so I could attend church services and even undertake holy work. My relationship with the church brethren gradually deepened, to the extent that some members treated me like a son.

In September 2015, after a year of military service, it was time for me to leave. Two days before I departed, the church held a farewell gathering for me. This touched me deeply. They gave me an MRT railcard with a message written on the back:

Jesus said to En-Ping, “En-Ping, do you love Me?”

En-Ping said, “Lord, yes, You know I love You.”

Jesus said to En-Ping, “Feed My sheep.”

These words were based on John 21:17—the same passage that had come to me in prayer during my final year of YTTP. I had not shared that experience, or what I had been praying for, with anyone. I was so moved that God had called me a third time.

4. Blessings in Marriage

Although I had felt God’s calling, I was not confident enough to proceed with my application. When I first aspired to become a preacher, I prayed that God would provide me a prayerful spouse who would be willing to be a preacher’s wife. Indeed, God granted my prayer and, on November 1, 2015, He blessed me and my wife in holy matrimony.

Before the marriage, I still had my doubts about the way ahead. One sister who was married to a preacher told me, “God has given you clear evidence of His will: your fiancée’s willingness. Not many sisters would want to be a preacher’s wife.” At that moment, I realized how God had led me through this whole process. Since my wife and I had agreed that I would apply for the TTP when I turned twenty-five the following year, I had no reason to hesitate any longer. By God’s grace, I passed the TTP entrance exam in August 2016. God chose me, an unworthy man, to be His full-time servant.

REFLECTIONS

Now, as a TTP student, I still have much to improve. This verse is a source of strength for me whenever my faith is low:

            But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)

I was once a lost son who pursued worldly pleasure, but God called me to return. In my heart, I know that I am undeserving of such amazing grace. God’s love has compelled me to dedicate my life to strengthen my brothers and sisters, and to serve God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my soul. May all glory be given to Him. Amen.

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Author: Derren Liang, Sam Kuo and En Ping Liu
Publisher: True Jesus Church
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