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 (Manna 57: Christians in the Community)
The Golden Boat
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The Golden Boat

Sarah Pai—Cerritos, California, USA

I never planned on moving half way around the world, away from my family and friends. But through the guidance of God, I left Taiwan and came to the US, where I grew closer to Him and strengthened my faith.


After I graduated from university, I worked for a few years as a kindergarten teacher. I enjoyed that job, but, by the exceptional arrangement of God, I was led to the path of studying abroad to obtain a Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).

I started to look for schools in the US that offered such programs, and I was determined to attend a school that was close to a True Jesus Church. I found only one university that fit my criteria. But despite my diligent studying, I was not able to achieve the necessary test scores to be accepted into the program at that school. My only choice was to go to Arkansas Tech University.

In August 2005, I arrived in Arkansas where I decided to trust God and enjoy my time in the US. I thought it was possible that God brought me here to spread the gospel since there were no True Jesus Church members living there. However, I didn’t have the courage to share my faith with my friends.

I made many friends who were also Chinese and furthering their education in Arkansas, and they seemed to love and respect me. Whenever I was asked to be the mediator during their disagreements, I prayed for God’s help and He amazingly let those matters resolve smoothly.

I was always invited wherever my friends went: star-gazing, shopping, and later on even going to bars. The only thing I insisted on was keeping the Sabbath; however, my eyes and heart gradually could not genuinely turn to God.

Things went on like this until the end of the first semester. One day I found myself walking to and from school alone. All of a sudden, those who I had thought were my friends stopped talking to me. In loneliness, I tried to seek God, and it was at that moment that I realized how far away from Him I had gone.

This isolation from my friends was a wake-up call to me, and I was determined to draw closer to God. But because there were no other True Jesus Church members near me, I started to look for other Christians and churches to fulfill my spiritual needs.


In December 2005, I was introduced to a family that also believed in keeping the Sabbath. After I spent some time talking to them, I found out their beliefs were similar to the doctrines of the True Jesus Church, so I joined the Bible studies and Sabbath worship services at their church.

They observed Sabbath from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday, but they appeared to be even more devoted than the True Jesus Church. They kept all of the festivals described in the Old Testament, such as Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

They believed in speaking in tongues through the presence of the Holy Spirit, but they practiced that only at home and not in the church because they believed that it wouldn’t benefit others if nobody could understand what they were saying.

Whenever I had questions, they turned very quickly to Bible passages to support their beliefs. At the time, I didn’t have much time to study the Bible on my own so I gradually believed some of the things they taught. I even tried not to eat “unclean” food (such as pork, shrimp, and ham) in order to please God.

Although I had grown up in the True Jesus Church religious education system and had been involved in teaching religious education since I was in high school, I started to question my faith when I was in Arkansas. I wondered why the True Jesus Church considers itself to be the only true church that will be saved and didn’t understand why those who were very devoted to loving God and man couldn’t be saved.

However, no matter how many questions I had and no matter how much I doubted the doctrines of our church, there was one thing I deeply believed—that God is the most wonderful Counselor who will eventually give me all the answers.


I had already booked my flight back to Taiwan before I completed my degree, thinking that I would start working once I got back. However, one month before school ended, one of my friends suggested that I apply for Optional Practical Training. If I was accepted, I would be able to work in the US for one year while still on a student visa. After considering her suggestion for two weeks, I decided to apply. My application was approved, so instead of going back to Taiwan I stayed to look for a job.

Some people told me that it would be very difficult to find a job in Arkansas. But I found a job at a private school after looking only for one afternoon, and I was hired to begin working once I came back from my vacation. All of my friends there were very amazed.

During my vacation, I traveled across the country, finally flying from New York to Southern California to attend the National Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS). Although the deadline for registration had passed, I decided to attend as a full-time auditor. I arrived two weeks before NYTS started.

Because I had so many questions about my faith and beliefs, I knelt down to pray every morning and afternoon. Since there were assignments for the participants before the seminar began, I started to really study the Bible. I had so many questions about Christianity that I began keeping a list, and I recorded the verses I found in the Bible that answered my questions. After I told the resident pastor that I had been joining services at another church, he helped me answer some of my questions.

One week later, a sister invited me to stay at her house before NYTS began. I tried to spend more time in prayer to ask for God’s help in answering my questions. After praying longer and reading the Bible more, the answers were revealed little by little each day, and I realized that some of the teachings from the church I had been attending in Arkansas were wrong.

One Wednesday night after service I truly acknowledged the existence of God. I felt at peace and without any doubt as I prayed and went to bed. That night I had a very vivid dream.


My roommates in Arkansas, Rose and Emily, were standing with me on the roof of a building that was taller than the other buildings around it. I heard them exclaim in surprise when they looked up at the sky. When I looked up, I saw a golden dot. It was quite small but got bigger as it descended. Suddenly it became a golden boat. I couldn’t look directly at it for a long time because it was shining so brightly, but I could see that there was a cross carved on its side.

When the golden boat came close, it suddenly became a gray cement building with a cross on the roof. There were twelve windows, and a person stood at each one. In one of the windows on the left, there was a silver basin and a white towel, so it seemed like it was a dormitory.

All of the people who stood at the windows smiled and waved affectionately at me, and I also smiled and waved back at them. Slowly, the boat ascended and moved further to the left, where it stopped moving. Even though it was far from us, we could still see it suspended in midair.

Rose came over and handed me a stack of paper and asked me to have all the people in the golden boat take a survey. We were no longer on the roof but in a room that had no ceiling. I agreed right away, but looking at the boat floating so far away, I wondered how I could send the paper there. I couldn’t fly, and there was no way to make it across the sky.

I put the paper on a window ledge next to me and knelt down to pray, facing that window. After five minutes of prayer, the pages were lifted into the air and flew in a continuous curve from the ledge to the golden boat.

A little while later, the papers flew back one at a time, forming a stack on my bed. After all the papers were back, I decided to take a look at the responses. On each sheet, there were several questions with lines provided below each one for answers.

The first survey I looked at answered each question fully, using up all the provided space. I thought this must have been completed by one of our devoted church members. However, the second one I saw appeared to be completed by a person who either didn’t care about the questions or didn’t know the answers, since most of the answers were either “Yes” or “No,” and the questions requiring further explanation were not answered.

As I was still looking at the surveys, the dream suddenly ended.


When I woke up the next morning, I sat up, my heart racing, because the dream seemed so real. I still remembered it very vividly, and I was shocked at what had taken place, but I didn’t understand what it meant. Although it didn’t make much sense, I didn’t spend time analyzing it or thinking about it.

Later that day, I was in the car with some church members on the way to Bible study when one of the sisters tapped my shoulder and said, “Look at the sky.” We saw a boat-shaped cloud with a cross and a person sitting in that boat. We were all amazed by the scene, but I didn’t tell them about my dream.

Over the next few days, I forgot about the golden boat. That Sunday, NYTS began and I enjoyed my time there, learning about the Bible and being a part of the wonderful fellowship with brothers and sisters. We encouraged each other to pray for one another. I tasted the sweetness of drawing close to God, and my heart gradually grew joyful.

One of the things that I spent much time in prayer over was my faith—if I moved to California, it would be much easier to attend services and maintain my faith. However, if I went back to Arkansas, I would be able to spread the gospel to my friends and they could possibly be saved.

In my prayers, I felt that going back to Arkansas was the right choice, but I knew that my faith would be tested.

During one prayer, I shed tears as I asked God to help me stay strong and faithful to Him. Suddenly, my sorrow and worries disappeared, and I felt calm and peaceful when I heard a voice say, “You are my child.” I knew at that moment that God would take care of me in Arkansas.


Although some of my questions were answered during the time I was in Southern California, I still did not have answers to the others. However, by the grace of God, the answers came to me whenever I turned to the Bible during NYTS.

Finally, I had only one question left: Why is True Jesus Church the only church that will be saved? I prayed very hard over this question and told God that I wouldn’t know how to continue in my faith if I didn’t receive an answer from Him.

The end of NYTS drew near, but my question was still unanswered. During one of the last prayer sessions, I was again asking for an answer. While I was praying this way, the golden boat from my dream flashed into my mind.

All of a sudden, I understood what that dream meant. The boat represents the True Jesus Church, and the gold represents the pure and true gospel that we preach. Like Noah’s ark, only the people on the boat were saved. The survey responses show that salvation does not depend on knowledge, ability, or devotion to God and man but on faith. Those who believe and receive baptism in the True Jesus Church are saved, whether they answered the survey fully or not.

God gave me the answer to the question for which I had been praying: The True Jesus Church is the only church that will be saved because she is the only church with the complete truth.


After NYTS ended, I went back to Arkansas. I first worked at a nursery school, taking care of children around eighteen to twenty-four months old. Although I enjoyed that job, I quit after one month because the school couldn’t help me obtain a work visa.

One day I received a phone call asking me to be a substitute teacher. This was unexpected because it had been two months since I had applied for the job, and I had never been asked to substitute. After that first substitute teaching job, I was often called to substitute for classes from kindergarten to the twelfth grade.

My uncle called me in October to see if I would attend a student spiritual convocation (SSC) in Dallas at the end of December. He also mentioned that he thought it would be good for me if I moved so that I could live closer to other members of the True Jesus Church.

I did not like the idea of moving to another place because I felt that everything in my life was going well. During one prayer, I understood that I needed to submit and move, but at the same time my heart was crying, “What about the possibility of spreading the gospel in Arkansas?” It was still difficult to let go of that opportunity.

Since I had not yet finalized my plans for moving, I used the time I had left in Arkansas to repay the love of God and all of the people who had been kind to me. One of the things I did over the next few months was to give rides to some students who did not have a car. Some of them asked me how I was so blessed as to have a job, and I shared how God was the one who had given me everything.

Through God’s grace, four of these students joined SSC in Dallas with me, and one of them received the Holy Spirit. She eventually received baptism after she completed her studies in the US. I realized then that God had plans that were beyond my understanding and that I shouldn’t worry so much about leaving Arkansas and the chance to spread the gospel there.

Looking back, my heart is filled with thankfulness to God for how He led me through the past few years in America. When I remember how I was constantly around worldly friends and later worshipped with the church that I thought was identical to the True Jesus Church, I realize that, without God’s help, I would have been too far from the precious golden boat of His only saved church.

As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:5,

            Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to
think of anything as being from ourselves,
but our sufficiency is from God.

I understand now that God’s power and guidance are more than what we can imagine. And His work is being accomplished step by step around the world, even without our awareness.

Some day our stories may be forgotten, but the story of God is never-ending. I hope that we can continue to pray for the holy work in remote areas and spread the gospel wherever we go. May all the glory be to our Lord.

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