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 (Manna 58: Sabbath)
Sufficient Grace
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Sufficient Grace

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.


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 was.

But this former teacher told me, “Just stand up where you fall.” This is easier said than done, but it encouraged me.

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 university.”

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.

No 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.


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 prayers.”

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.


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 leave.

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 and driving.

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 time came.

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 phone interview.

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.

Proof from God

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 on.

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 after.

Since 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.”

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Author: Paul Chen