Finding Hope and a Purpose
Wun-Chiao Cheung—Queens, New
Before I came to know Jesus
Christ, I was a typical teenager. I went to school every day and hung out with
my friends after school. I cursed, gossiped, told a lot of lies, and more. I
was a very wild and active person.
But because my family was very
strict, I wasn’t allowed to do many things that my peers were doing. I lied so
that my parents wouldn’t find out that I had disobeyed them. After telling one
lie, I would have to tell more lies to cover previous lies.
My family had a lot of problems,
and one of the worst was my parents’ fighting. They constantly argued. Because
this was the environment I grew up in, I was never really happy.
Another reason why I wasn’t happy
was because I felt that I was the only child who wasn’t loved.
In traditional Chinese families
like mine, sons are favored over daughters, and this is especially true for a
firstborn son. So between my older brother and me, I always felt slighted.
Since my sister was the youngest child, she was always taken care of and
As the middle child, I always
ended up taking care of chores and other household matters while bearing the
brunt of my parents’ frustrations. I started to believe that my parents hated
me and that they took care of me because it was their responsibility and not
because they loved me.
I didn’t believe in God because I
felt so much suffering, sadness, and depression because of the fighting and
unhappiness in my family. I often took refuge in the bathroom because that was
the only place where I could cry. I would just look at myself in the mirror and
When I was in high school, I was
so depressed one day that I thought about committing suicide. I was crying
nonstop in the bathroom and thought that, since my life was miserable and every
day was just the same as the previous day, I should just end things right away.
But I didn’t go through with it
because I worried that I would have to go to the hospital if my attempt failed.
I didn’t want that to happen so I just went on with life because there wasn’t
anything I could do to change it.
A PLACE I COULD BELONG TO
In the summer of 2002, my cousins
from New Jersey came with their parents for a visit the way they had done every
year. But this time, they started to preach to us.
Our family followed traditional
ancestral worship, but my cousins had recently been introduced to the True
Jesus Church. They told my sister and me that we should believe in God because
He’s great. But every time they preached to us we would say, “No.”
As a Gentile, I just couldn’t
believe the words they preached. I was a teenager who would use God’s name in
vain and laugh at religion because of the preconception that God could never be
truly real. I always thought that I would never believe in God or be a
Despite our refusals, they invited
us to attend Student Spiritual Convocation in August. I didn’t go because it
sounded strange to me, but my sister went. When she came back, she seemed
different—I got the feeling that she wasn’t a part of the world anymore but
already belonged to God.
I asked her what she thought of
it, and she told me that she liked it and that it was fun. Our relationship
improved from that point on, and we became close like sisters usually are.
I started to be more interested in
going to church, so my uncle came and drove my brother, my sister, and me to
Elizabeth Church in New Jersey for Sabbath service. On that first visit, I saw
a lot of youths there who were all so friendly. I felt that I could belong to
this place, too.
Before the morning service
started, a sister explained prayer to me because visitors often got scared by
it. I wanted to see what it was like before I started to pray, so I looked
around at the beginning. I wasn’t scared at all like the sister had warned me
about. Rather, I thought it was amusing.
innocently followed her instructions on how to pray. I thought that it was a
nice experience because I was somehow able to express the deepest thoughts and
feelings in my heart that I could never tell anyone. From that time on, I
continued to pray often.
My sister and I attended services
regularly at Elizabeth Church after that first visit. My uncle drove out to New
York every Friday night so that he could bring the two of us to church on
Saturday morning with the rest of his family. In April 2003, I was baptized
into the True Jesus Church.
The Only True Church
After baptism, I began to see the
importance of God and His commandments. Every week I couldn’t wait for Fridays
and Saturdays to come because Friday night was rest, and I really enjoyed going
to church on Saturday.
I thank God my parents weren’t
opposed to me and my sister going to church. My relationship with my family
improved because I saw how my suffering had built up a strong character. I also
reminded myself that I shouldn’t blame my parents and that I should forgive
them now that I had found the truth.
A few months after I was
baptized, I started to get really busy because I was preparing for college
examinations in addition to studying for school. Eventually, it became
difficult for me to observe the Sabbath every week. It was especially difficult
because I had to wake up early on Saturday to go to church in New Jersey.
I didn’t know what to do because
I heard in religious education classes and in sermons how important it was to
keep the Sabbath, but commuting so far every week was very hard. During my
senior year in high school, I suddenly thought of looking up True Jesus Church
online. I found out that there was a True Jesus Church in Queens, so I asked my
dad to drive me there one Sabbath.
I knew that it was wrong to
worship at another church because members at Elizabeth Church had explained
that we were the only true church. For some reason, I thought that they meant
that Elizabeth Church was the only true church. So even though I had found
Queens Church, I wasn’t sure that it was okay to observe Sabbath there.
I told myself that I would leave
if they didn’t do things the same way as in Elizabeth. As the service
progressed, I saw how everything was the same. I found out soon after that
“only true church” referred to True Jesus Church and that there were many
locations around the world.
DETERMINED TO RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
My sister and I started to attend
services at Queens Church instead of Elizabeth Church. By that time, I had
already been baptized for about one year, but I still hadn’t received the Holy
When my cousins came on a visit,
they suggested that we pray together. Only one of my cousins had the Holy
Spirit at the time. But while we were praying, I heard two voices speaking in
I was very surprised, especially
when I realized afterward that my sister was the other person with the Holy
Spirit. I didn’t know that she had received it. When she confirmed that she had
received the Holy Spirit, I started to really pursue it because it reaffirmed
to me that the True Jesus Church was the true church.
I thought about attending the
National Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS) in 2004 because I would have a lot of
time to pray and study the word of God. However, I was afraid that my parents
wouldn’t let me go because they didn’t like the idea of me staying overnight
Also, I would have to fly out to
California, and I knew that they wouldn’t like me traveling so far on my own. I
decided that I would ask for permission to go the next year because I would be
a year older and they might be more open to letting me go.
Over the next few months, I felt
very moved every time I turned to read the Bible during sermons and in
religious education classes. I felt my faith increase and my depression lessen
as I learned more about the Bible. I was particularly encouraged by Matthew
Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if
you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from
here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
So I started to pray a few months
before I asked my parents about going to NYTS. I prayed to the Lord knowing
that if He could move mountains, He could help me go to NYTS. Thank God, when I
asked if I could go to NYTS, my parents said it was okay. My faith increased
after this because I saw how my prayers were answered.
My Mission at NYTS
Before going to NYTS in 2005, I
made it my mission to receive the Holy Spirit by the end of the two-week
seminar. I felt so close to God and wanted to do a lot of work for Him, but I
couldn’t do much because I didn’t have the Holy Spirit. So I told everyone at
Queens Church that I really wanted to get the Holy Spirit this time.
It was already more than two
years since I received baptism, yet I still had not received the Holy Spirit. I
had heard many stories of other members’ experiences, how some had received it
on the very last day of NYTS, how some people prayed for forty years before
receiving it, or how some received it the very first time they prayed in
I was so determined to receive
the Holy Spirit at NYTS that year; I fasted every day and prayed with all my heart
in every prayer session. It felt like the hardest thing I had ever done.
At the end of the first week of
NYTS, some members from Queens came to cook for the participants. One of the
sisters asked if I had received the Holy Spirit yet. I was feeling a little
discouraged, but she comforted me and told me to keep trying.
I knew that the Queens members
and my group members at NYTS were praying for me, so I tried not to be so down
on myself. I thought that if I continued to be downhearted that God wouldn’t
give me the Holy Spirit.
In my prayers, I thought about the
In the beginning God created the heavens and the
earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of
the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Gen
I thought how I was like the
earth and filled with darkness and God’s Spirit was hovering over me but not
yet in me. I knew that it was my pride that hindered God’s Holy Spirit from
entering into me because I always used my own strength to make it through life.
I needed to let go and understand that it was God who controlled everything;
God was the one whom I could rely on and place my worries and burdens upon.
This struggle for the Holy Spirit
was a test of my faith, and I told God that I wasn’t leaving NYTS without the
Holy Spirit. I wanted to go to heaven with the brothers and sisters. I wanted
to go together with them to see our Lord.
The day before NYTS ended, a
pastor’s wife told me that I was very close to receiving the Holy Spirit and
that all the pastors agreed that I just had to pray a little harder and I would
get it. So I was even more encouraged after that.
I prayed to God that if He would
give me His Holy Spirit, I would serve Him for the rest of my life. I would
give Him my all because I owed Him everything.
After the morning prayer of the
last day, a pastor told me that I had received the Holy Spirit. I hadn’t
noticed my tongue moving, so I didn’t think that I had received it. I told a
sister that I wasn’t sure because I didn’t notice anything different when I
prayed, but she told me not to doubt because God might take the Holy Spirit
away if I doubted.
I went up to the front to pray
during the concluding prayer of NYTS. I decided not to doubt but to believe
that I had the Holy Spirit, and I felt my tongue rolling. I knew that I really
had received it. I was so thankful and filled with joy.
I am now a very different person compared to
who I was before coming to Christ. I used to shed so many tears and was
constantly unhappy. But now I understand that for Christians, even though life
is not easy and sometimes we shed tears because of our suffering, we still have
Without God, I wouldn’t be here
today. I felt so lost in the past—I didn’t know what would happen to me, and I
had no idea what my future would be like. Now I know that there’s a purpose for
all of us. As for me, my purpose in life is to serve my Lord, my Master.
I have experienced so much grace
from God and am very comforted knowing that there is a Creator who understands
me. I used to feel that no one could ever understand my pain and suffering
because they weren’t in the same position as me. But now, whenever I pray, I
know that God is there and He sympathizes and knows exactly how I feel when I
cry out to Him.
Knowing that God understands me
gives me strength to live day by day. I have nothing to fear because God has
already told me that He is my God and will be with me.
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa 41:10)