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 (Manna 48)
A Life-Changing Year
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A Life-Changing Year

Lois Yap — Garden Grove, California, USA

            “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

TERRIBLE NEWS FOR THE NEW YEAR

In January 2004, while everybody was making New Year resolutions, I received some upsetting news from my gynecologist. He told me that the results of my last physical showed the presence of abnormal cells in my uterus, and the worst case scenario pointed to the possibility of uterine cancer.

I was devastated. I was sure he must’ve been wrong. What was the likelihood of a young and healthy twenty-eight-year-old getting uterine cancer? He went on to tell me about a patient two years younger than me who had also been diagnosed with this cancer and how her symptoms were very similar to mine.

My heart dropped at the news and I felt faint as the words sank in. My life then catapulted to a month-long visit to the hospital for tests and biopsies. That was February 2004: the darkest month of my life.

The tests were not painful. What really tortured me was the two weeks of waiting for the results to come back. During that period of time, I began to take notice of all the things that I had taken for granted, and how I may not be able to enjoy them in the very near future—things like going shopping, swimming, eating, and even just breathing. When death comes, it takes everything away. How delicate life seemed to me.

I also started to have anxiety attacks about facing death. There were many nights when I would think of the love of my family and would shed many tears. I wasn’t ready to leave them, and it made things much worse because they were so far away in a different country and I could not tell them the things I was going through.

Looking to a Higher Being for Help

One night, while I was really depressed and unable to concentrate on anything, a thought came to me: “Why don’t you pray? If you, an ordinary human being, cannot help yourself, maybe God—the Supreme Being—can help you.”

I didn’t know the correct way to pray, as I came from a Buddhist background. So I decided to pray the way I saw other people pray on television. Facing the window, I knelt by the bedside, closed my eyes, and said to God, “God, if You really exist, if You are really in heaven looking down on us, please listen to me. I don’t know what to do with my life, and I need your help!”

Amazingly, after that prayer, my heart felt much calmer and my shoulder was much lighter. I started to think about looking for a church. Right around the same time, a coworker knew that I was through some troubles. She asked me if I wanted to come to church with her. When I heard her invitation, my heart felt very joyful.

During my first visit, I noticed the sign outside the chapel: True Jesus Church. Although my colleague had already told me that they prayed in tongue, I was still surprised by the volume and the sound. Prayer, in my mind, and as I learned again from television, was in silence or in understandable words. So, while they prayed, I couldn’t help but open my eyes to observe.

The members looked very much into their prayer, and I wondered why I could not concentrate to pray like they did. Despite all this, I was very attracted by the sermon, and I enjoyed being surrounded by the church members. I had this inexpressible feeling of peace and comfort just sitting in the chapel, which was very good for my weary heart. So I decided to visit again to find out more.

Not long after I began to attend church services, I started to have a series of dreams that I don’t think I will ever forget for the rest of my life.

A SERIES OF DREAMS

Experiencing Hell

The first dream took place in a high-rise apartment building, where I was a resident on a thirty-plus floor. While I was sleeping, a force sucked my soul out of my body and threw me through the window, and I rapidly fell towards the ground. I went through the ground and fell towards hell. It was a horrible experience, and I was very scared.

I continued to free fall, and I was terrified at the thought that I was going to die. At that moment, I realized that I could ask God for help, so I began to pray to Him while trembling. I prayed very earnestly and lost sight of my surroundings, at which point the dream ended.

When I got up in the morning, the memory was so fresh in my mind that I could still remember many details of that dream—down to what the window looked like. The strange thing was that I could not remember anything that I had seen in hell, and I attribute this as a blessing from God. This inexplicable dream made me think about what message God had wanted to send me, and I became more attentive in seeking the truth.

During the first few times I went to Sabbath, I especially enjoyed the lunch hour, where I could sit around and fellowship with others. Speaking tot hem helped me realize the importance of the Holy Spirit, and I began to take this matter more seriously.

I decided to pray to the Lord to cleanse me. I did not dare to ask for the Holy Spirit because I thought I was unworthy. In that prayer, I appealed to the Lord to remove any evil or wickedness from my heart. Then I thought, “Who am I to ask God for help?”

Past memories began to play in my mind. I remembered how I used to live and ho I used to despise His name. I felt so ashamed and guilty before Him that I began to cry in deep sorrow. I wasn’t sure how long I prayed, but after that prayer I felt like my body was falling apart. I went straight to sleep after that since I still had to work the next morning. That night, a second dream came to me.

Experiencing the Holy Spirit

I dreamt that I was sleeping again, but this time, I was sleeping in my own room and on the same bed that I was lying on. I dreamt that I awoke from my sleep and started to speak in tongue, and there was a stir of echoes hovering over the ceiling of my room saying, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!”

As the echoes grew louder, I started to speak in tongue. Although I did not see anyone in my room, I did not feel alone, either. My body couldn’t move, but I didn’t feel discomfort. My only concern was whether the loud echoes would wake up my roommates.

I examined my tongue because I had never felt my tongue move this way before. I t was like  a gentle electrical charge on the tip, and it was rolling loud and fast together with the echo. When the voice filled the full capacity of the room, a crystal-clear-like ball started to form in my stomach. It slowly flowed out from my stomach into my throat and out my mouth. And the second dream ended there.

The next day, I told the colleague who brought me to church that I had dreamt of receiving the Holy Spirit. She was so happy and encouraged me to pray more diligently, as this might be a sign that I will receive the Holy Spirit soon. I also got word from the doctor that the tests results had come back positive, which ruled out cancer, thank God!

A Disturbing Time

After this, I had two other disturbing dreams that left me feeling very disoriented and shaken up. It seemed as if Satan would not leave me alone because many things in that period of time reminded me of how sinful and wicked I was; how undeserving to come before the Lord. I kept these feelings to myself and did not tell anyone. Nobody knew, but our merciful Lord saw my despair. He gave me the strength to enter His house and to be close to Him. And He prepared a sermon for me to hear.

SEPARATING FROM EVIL

During one afternoon service at church, the speaker talked about how Satan can easily attack us in the dark and when we are weak. The devil can easily lead us astray. The speaker also said that when we confess to one another, others can pray for us. It just dawned on me that I needed to share my burdens with others. Strangely, I had this faith in my heart telling me not to be ashamed but to trust that brothers and sisters would pray for me.

After the service, I grabbed two sisters whom I often spent time with and I told them some of the troubles I was having. I was so relieved. These two loving sisters even visited me one Sunday with a brother who is a theological student. We realized perhaps Satan was trying to disturb me while I was drawing closer to the Lord.

They suggested that I throw away any ungodly objects or idols in the name of the Lord Jesus, so that I might not be bothered by Satan again. Because I vividly experienced speaking in tongue in my dream, they encouraged me to pray harder for the Holy Spirit. So I went home and threw away all the idolatrous objects that I had and began to pray fervently for the Holy Spirit. But I still had no evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit.

I kept thinking there was perhaps something that I had forgotten to throw away, so I kept this matter in prayer and asked God to guide me. Then, I remembered the bracelet on my left hand, which I had worn everyday for the past seven years. The bracelet was made out of coconut shell and had been given to me by my best friend. This kind of bracelet is very popular in South East Asia, and it’s said to have supernatural powers that protect its owners from evil spirits.

Apart from that, this bracelet was a special souvenir of a sweet friendship from my childhood, so my heart was reluctant to throw it away. I held the bracelet in my hand and asked God one more time whether it was the bracelet that was the obstacle, and my heart said yes. I was also comforted by this passage from the Bible:

            For the LORD your God walks in the  midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you. (Deut 23:14)

The next day, a Thursday morning, I threw the bracelet in the trash in the  name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The following Sabbath, a sister came and asked if I was still bothered by weird dreams, and she told me that they had been praying for me. I was very touched by their love. In the thanksgiving prayer before the afternoon sermon, I thought about their prayers and had this grateful feeling of love flowing through my heart. When I prayed and said Hallelujah, my tongue started to roll, and the experience was exactly the same as it had been in my dream.

Moved By Jesus’ Love

When brothers and sisters found out that I had received the Holy Spirit, they asked me when I would decide to get baptized. At the time, baptism had yet to become an important priority to me, so I decided to put off this decision until later.

One Sunday morning, while I was waiting for a friend to go swimming, I had some extra time and was wondering what to do. When I turned my eyes, I saw my Bible on the desk in front of me, so I decided to make use of my free time to read it. Before I began reading, I prayed in silence and asked God to show me what He wanted me to read. With my eyes closed, I opened the Bible and it fell on the first epistle of John.

This was the first time I would read this letter, and I had no idea what it was all about. By the time I had finished reading the first chapter, which contained only ten verses, tears covered my face. Every word that I read reminded me of His undying love.

As I kept reading, many memories flooded into my mind. Memories of how my life changed after I came to know Him, how I no longer had any desire to attend late night parties, no more irresistible craze to shop frivolously, no more desire to smoke, and many other bad habits. I no longer needed those worldly things to fill the emptiness in my heart because I had received God’s divine love.

I came to realize just how perfect His love is. He did not only show me love but taught me how to love Him by teaching me to obey His commandments. As I read 1 John 5:3-4, I asked myself if I was born of Him, and as I continued to verse 8, the Bible told me that only having the Holy Spirit is incomplete, for “the Spirit, the water, and the blood…agree as one.”

My sins had to be washed away by the water and the blood. Then, I could belong to Him as His child. God loved me so much, I also wanted to be His for always. I decided to get baptized as soon as there was a chance. On August 22, 2004, I was baptized in Baldwin ParkChurch. Praise and thank God.

After coming into God’s light, I thank the heavenly Father for giving me so many loving brothers and sisters. I thank Him for letting me understand the divine power of prayer. And He promised not only to hear our prayers but also to give us whatever we ask for in His holy name—the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May all glory and grateful praise be unto our heavenly Father! Amen.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church
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