Paul Chen—Cerritos, California, USA
Ever since middle school, I
have always enjoyed going to church and spending time in the chapel. I had a
difficult time during my school years because academics were very competitive
in Taiwan, and I wasn’t a good student. But I always found peace and joy at
church. I was able to build up my faith and relationship with God through the
difficult times I experienced.
WILL TO STUDY ABROAD
I started to prepare for the
university transfer exams after I completed compulsory military service. My
acquaintances couldn’t believe I wanted to go to university because they knew
how I had barely squeaked by to graduate from high school.
I took the exam, but I wasn’t
accepted by any of the schools I tested for. However, I wasn’t discouraged. I
just prayed to God and told Him that my purpose in going to college was to be
able to serve Him better.
One day, I had a conversation
with my English teacher from high school and he told me, “Don’t worry if you
can’t get into a university here. You can just go to America for university.” I
laughed when he said this because he, of all people, knew how poor my English
But this former teacher told
me, “Just stand up where you fall.” This is easier said than done, but it
I went to church and I told
God, “If it is Your will for me to go to America to study, please at least let
me be accepted into one school here so that I can build up my confidence. When
I am accepted, I won’t finish my degree here but will transfer to study abroad.
I will know that this is Your will if I just barely manage to get into a
I took the university transfer
exam a second time and applied to seventeen universities. I was put on the
waiting list at one of them. I prayed every day that someone who was accepted
would decline so that I could move up the waiting list and be accepted. And
that is what happened.
I knew then that it was God’s
will for me to study abroad, and I started filling out the application for a
student visa to the US. As I was doing this, I started to think, “If I can
graduate from college here in Taiwan, why am I making more trouble for myself
by trying to study abroad?”
During my first semester of
college, I failed many of the classes I took, yet all of the procedures for
studying abroad went very smoothly. This was particularly surprising because I
had applied for permanent residence some years earlier, and applicants waiting
to be approved for permanent residency didn’t usually receive visas.
True Jesus Church
I was granted a student visa to
the US that year, and I prepared to move. But there was still the question of
where I would attend university.
When my high school English
teacher heard how I had been approved for a visa, he told me, “God is helping
you.” I felt that God encouraged me through this teacher. It was through his
advice that I chose where to study.
I ended up at Wichita State
University in Kansas, which was a big change from the climate in Taiwan, but I
soon got used to the cold snowy winters and hot summers. What I could not get
used to was the absence of a True Jesus Church there.
I had attended church regularly
since I was a child, and I missed the fellowship and spiritual joy that comes
with worshipping as part of a congregation. I tried to transfer to other
universities that were near True Jesus Church locations, but I wasn’t accepted by
any of them. I felt that God wanted me to stay in Kansas.
Because there was no church
there, I had to observe the Sabbath by myself. It was a little lonely, so every
chance I got I would visit my brother in Chicago and go to church there. Later
on, I discovered that Dallas Church was closer to Kansas than Chicago Church,
so I started to go to church there whenever I had a holiday.
Graduating in 2002 was a
miracle. With such poor English, it really was due to the grace and guidance of
God that I was able to obtain my Master’s degree. I was so happy after I
received my diploma that I left before the graduation ceremony was over—I was
finally able to move somewhere near church.
My dad and I drove immediately
from my graduation ceremony to Dallas Church to attend a spiritual convocation.
ONLY WAY TO STAY
Now that I had obtained my degree, I
wanted to start working and pay off my student loans. However, I hadn’t made
any plans beyond attending the spiritual convocation.
I suddenly recalled a testimony
that I had heard from a pastor. A brother had been working in an area far away
from a True Jesus Church and was laid off. So, he packed all of his belongings
into a car and moved with his family to a place where there was a church. He
didn’t look for a job or arrange housing before moving, but he found a job and
a place to stay a few days after he arrived.
I decided to do the same
thing—I packed my car with my possessions and drove to Chicago with my parents.
But I didn’t find a job.
I would often pray in church,
and I asked God to let me find a job before my work permit expired so that I
could stay in the US. After several months, I finally found a job, and I felt
that God had opened a road for me out of nowhere.
I thanked God every day for
this job, but I also asked if He could give me a higher salary because my pay
was extremely low at the time. I also prayed that if I couldn’t get a higher
salary I could at least obtain a work visa so that I would be able to stay in
the US after my work permit expired.
I was called aside by my boss
and a human resources representative soon after my probation period ended, and
I thought, “Finally, God is opening a way for me and is going to answer my
But instead of offering me a
pay raise or helping me with a work visa, they told me that my salary was too
high and that they would be decreasing my pay by 25%. I felt a lot of pain and
suffering after this because it seemed like God wasn’t listening to me even
though I prayed at least three hours a day.
Since I didn’t have a work
visa, the only way I could stay in the US was to go back to school. I applied
to universities that were near True Jesus Church locations, but I was accepted
to only two PhD programs: one at the University of Idaho and the other at my
alma mater, Wichita State University.
Neither school was near a True
Jesus Church, but I chose Kansas between the two of them because it was closer
to church than Idaho. I wasn’t very excited about going back to school since I
had already spent so much on my education and wanted to earn money, but I felt
that I had no other choice.
I shed many tears of sorrow
over my situation, but looking back I can see how God was with me during that
time. Even though I encountered so many trials, I knew that God would continue
to guide me since He had already guided me through so many difficult times.
IN MY RIGHT EYE
So, I went back to school for
my doctorate. In 2006, a semester before I graduated, I was granted permanent
residence. I was determined that I would leave Kansas, and I told my professor
that I would not stay even if they offered me a teaching position. He thought I
was joking because my department was ready to offer me an assistant
professorship once I graduated, but I told him that I was sure I wanted to
I moved to Phoenix immediately
after I graduated, and the first thing I did was drive to church with my
parents. I didn’t have the keys to church, but just looking at it made me feel
like I was free—I was no longer limited by my situation and could finally
choose where I wanted to live. I found a job there, and even though I didn’t
really like the work I stayed and bought a house because it was near a church.
I finally had a job that
allowed me to pay a mortgage as well as start to pay off my student loans. I
was content. I worked the night shift at my full-time job, from 11 pm to 8 am,
making sure that the computers were ready for the day workers when they came
in. I also worked part-time during the day on Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday.
One Saturday morning at work, I
realized that I was blind in my right eye. It was 7:35 am—my right eye was
open, but I couldn’t see anything at all, just blackness. I was very scared and
broke out into a cold sweat. But I thought back to the time when God preserved
my left eye when I was in military training, and I was reassured that He would
also protect my right eye.
During this time, I witnessed
the great love that parents have for their children: my mom not only prayed for
me every day for more than three to four hours but was prepared to sell our
house in Taiwan in order to pay for any eye treatment.
I pretended that everything was
fine and didn’t tell anyone else about my problem. Even though being able to
see out of only one eye caused me to feel out of balance, I kept going to work
I worried that my problem would
be discovered when I had to renew my driver’s license and that my license would
be revoked. If I lost my license, then I would lose my job and stop earning
money, and my life would be miserable.
I took time off work in
December because my eyesight didn’t improve. I continued to pray and ask God to
heal me as soon as possible, but things stayed the same every day.
I continued to stay home from
work until early January. One Friday after evening service, I heard the
announcement that the United States General Assembly (USGA) was hiring. I
recalled how I had promised God that I would serve Him faithfully the rest of
my life if He kept me alive during military service.
More importantly, I promised
God in 2003 that if I was granted permanent residency I would serve Him and do
whatever was needed in the church. However, I didn’t fulfill my promise right
after I received my PhD because I wanted to gain work experience. I didn’t plan
when I would work for God but thought that it would be clear to me when the
I heard that the position at
the USGA had been open for a while, so I prayed to God and asked that if it was
His will, to let me apply for the position and let my eye heal. I filled out
the application for the position and mailed it on Monday. On Tuesday, I had a
After the phone interview, I
noticed that my eye started to get better—it wasn’t completely healed, but I
could see colors and blurry objects. It was clear that God was answering my
prayer and wanted me to serve Him, but it was difficult for me to give up my
good job. I was hoping to fulfill my promise later on.
Since I had not received a job
offer yet, I went back to work. My eye had gotten better and I was back earning
money. I decided that if the USGA didn’t contact me again regarding the job, I
would take it as a sign that everything would go back to the way it was.
I was very happy to be back at
work, and I told my colleagues that my eye had improved. But after four hours
of work on my first day back, my eye started to darken and I went home.
I thought that the darkness of
the work environment at my night job was causing the eye problem, so I went
back to my day job the following morning. But when I was there, I felt such
extreme pressure on my right eye that I thought it was going to pop out of the
socket. It was time to fulfill my promise to serve God.
I went home early and told my
parents that I had to go work for the church. I had been given a Chinese
article to translate to test my English proficiency when I applied for the USGA
position, and I noticed that whenever I worked on it my eye would get better.
So I wrote an email to the USGA executive secretary and explained that I if I
wasn’t hired, I would go blind.
After submitting my
translation, I was offered the job to work for the USGA in Southern California,
and I quit my jobs in Phoenix in preparation for my move. I was supposed to
start work on a Tuesday, but we had spiritual convocation at Phoenix Church
until Sunday, so I decided that I would move on Monday.
On Sunday, the turn signal
light on my car broke on the way to church. During prayer that day, I told God,
“If you want me to move to Southern California, you have to help me so that my
signal works when I drive there.”
After the final prayer, when
everyone was having lunch, I went to my car, said a silent prayer, and then
said “Hallelujah” and tried the signal. Miraculously, it worked.
But then I thought, “Maybe it’s
only a coincidence.” I asked God, “Is this a coincidence? If you really want me
to move, let the light break again and then work again, and I will believe that
it is your will for me to work at the USGA.” Despite the sign from my healed
eye, a part of me still hoped that I would be able to serve God full-time later
When I drove home, the turn
signal light was broken again. After I parked the car, I tried the signal
again, and it worked. I knew that it was God’s will for me to work at the USGA.
I believed that if I went, God
would arrange everything for me. He just wanted me to be strong and have
courage. I drove to Southern California the next day and started work the day
I began working for the church, I have experienced God’s grace every day. He
has never left my side or allowed me to suffer or be in need.
On my first day at work, my dad
called and said, “Your tax refund came, and it is a large amount.” The refund
was the exact amount I needed to cover all of my expenses until I received my
first paycheck from my new job.
Coming to study and work in the
US has shown me how important it is to rely on God and be faithful to Him. I
know that God hears our prayers and fulfills His promises, and I have seen how
we must obey His will and fulfill our promises as well.
When I look back on my
experiences with God, I can see how Jesus has always reassured me, “My grace is
sufficient for you.”