The Golden Boat
Sarah Pai—Cerritos, California,
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.
TURNING AWAY FROM GOD
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.
TRYING TO DRAW CLOSE TO GOD
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.
RECEIVING ANSWERS FROM GOD
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.
THE GOLDEN BOAT
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
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
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
As I was still looking at the
surveys, the dream suddenly ended.
PEACE THROUGH PRAYER
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
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
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
UNDERSTANDING MY DREAM
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
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.