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 (Manna 61: Church Life)
God Has Always Been with Me
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God Has Always Been with Me

Carol Chan—Houston, Texas, USA


I have been a member of the True Jesus Church ever since I was baptized at the age of two weeks. At the time, I was very sick with asthma and my mom didn’t think I would survive, but I pulled through after the baptism.

When I was four, my family moved to Vancouver, Canada, and thankfully my asthma soon disappeared. However, my family stopped going to church after we immigrated, so growing up I didn’t know who God was, and I didn’t pursue Him, read the Bible, or pray. During my third year at university, my parents, after some encouragement from a church member, decided to rejoin Sabbath services, and I followed them.

After graduating from university, I got a great job with a major airline that allowed me to travel the world for next to nothing. My mother not only bought me a car, she bought me clothes, packed my lunches, and allowed me to live at home rent-free. My colleagues thought I was so pampered and lucky! I thought I was invincible.

My spiritual life, however, was in decay. Although I attended services consistently, I was always the last to arrive and the first to leave. When members invited me to stay for lunch I would decline and make excuses.

I had many worldly friends, and every weekend I had something to do and somewhere to go. I couldn’t even pray for five minutes without fidgeting. During such a short prayer, I would be thinking about movies and lunch and what I wanted to eat. For me, food was more important than anything.

My life was so smooth and complacent that I felt I really didn’t need God at all. But I thank God that it was not His will for me to continue living my life without Him.


In 1999, I got married to a non-believer. Two years later, my husband was relocated, and we moved to Copenhagen, a beautiful city with much to do and enjoy. With hardly any notice, we were transferred in the winter of 2002 to a tiny fishing and oil town in Norway.

My world turned upside down. From having friends, a great job, and so many good things provided by my parents to having no friends, no job, and no parents close by, I became extremely bored and lonely. I would walk through town wishing someone would talk to me.

Not only was it lonely, the winters were difficult to live through. Each day was bitterly cold, and some days would be dark for almost twenty-one hours. I also did not have the luxury of owning a car, so I took the bus through the harsh winters, walking to the stops and waiting for the bus in the cold, dark, and sleet.

We lived in an apartment on a hill, and the sidewalk froze whenever it was cold, causing me to slip and fall every time I went shopping. The worst part was that everything cost about three times more than what I was used to. For example, a restaurant pizza cost about fifty dollars and a Coke seven dollars. Because I enjoyed food so much, this was a truly horrible situation. My husband and I grudgingly ate canned food and rice to save money.

I complained to my husband and said I couldn’t live like this, and he told me not to worry because we would be there for only a few months. But then one day he received word that we would need to stay a minimum of two years. I started to get really worried. I didn’t want my life to consist of feeling bored, sad, and lonely all the time and having to pay an exorbitant amount of money for everything.

For the first time in my life, I suffered panic attacks. Then I developed insomnia and anxiety until everything snowballed into a state of depression. Every day, I felt this darkness surround me, and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t feel like doing anything and would constantly cry. The worst part was that my brain could not switch off even when I wanted it to.

In this state of hopelessness, I started to seek God for the first time. He moved my heart so that I would kneel down and pray, and I also started to sing hymns.

One night, I dreamt that I was praying with the Holy Spirit, and I was joyful when I woke up. But the insomnia didn’t improve. I was so exhausted and anxious that I didn’t even want to live anymore. There was no joy in my heart. I thought that I would end up in a mental asylum and people would forget about me.

I talked to my parents about my struggles, and my dad suggested that I go home for some rest and spiritual healing. It was two weeks since I had last slept, and, needless to say, I was a basket case.

The next morning, I was on a plane back to Vancouver.


My dad and a church sister picked me up from the airport and took me home. A couple of hours later, the pastor arrived at my father’s request. The first thing he asked me was if I had the Holy Spirit. Please, I thought, don’t talk to me about the Holy Spirit, I just desperately need something that will help me sleep.

He kept telling me to “ask, seek, and knock,” so we got on our knees and prayed. As we prayed, I heard the church sister sing the beginning of “Frère Jacques,” a French nursery song. The English translation of the lyrics is “Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, brother John? Morning bells are ringing, ding dang dong.”

I thought this was quite peculiar and questioned her about it afterward. She replied that she was not even aware she was singing it! From that day forth, I was moved to pray for the Holy Spirit because God cared about me and understood my troubles.

That night, I lay in bed for several hours and tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep. When I closed my eyes in another attempt to sleep, it suddenly felt like my body was moving at great speed through dark space. I opened my eyes and saw that I was still in bed.

When I closed my eyes, the vision came back. As my body hurtled through the dark space, a giant wall of fire appeared before me. And as I went through the fire, I cried out, “God help me!”

I opened my eyes, and the vision vanished. I wondered what it meant. The fire didn’t feel sinister in any way. On the contrary, my faith was strengthened. It wasn’t until much later that the vision made sense after I stumbled across the following Bible verse:

            “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mt3:11)

The next day was Sabbath, and I had gone fifteen days without sleeping through the night. I attended service and earnestly prayed for the Holy Spirit. I was so exhausted, but I paid careful attention to the sermon. It felt like my soul was thirsting for the truth.

That night, my brain switched off and I slept, albeit fitfully. I was so thankful that I could be refreshed even just a little bit to continue my spiritual pursuit.

Throughout the week, my insomnia would come and go. I continued to pray for the Holy Spirit but didn’t notice any change in the way I prayed until Friday. What happened during the Friday evening service is something that I will never forget.

The pastor invited the congregation to come up and pray in the front of the chapel to receive the laying of hands, so I went up. During the prayer, I felt the pastor lay hands on me, but nothing happened and he moved on.

All of a sudden, I felt a shot of electricity go through my body, and I couldn’t control my tongue, which seemed to be going a hundred miles an hour. My first thought was, So this is what it’s like to have the Holy Spirit. During the prayer, I was so thankful and joyful that, after all these years, God granted me His precious Spirit. I felt that God took away my sins that night.

I thought that everything would be fine after I received the Holy Spirit, but it wasn’t. I went through a period of doubt and spiritual battles because I didn’t understand why God gave me, a sinner, this gift.

I discussed my doubts with a sister, and she explained, “It’s not our place to ask why. When we receive a gift, we just say, ‘Thank you.’” I realized that she was right, that we shouldn’t question God but should accept what He gives us.

So in my prayers, I stopped doubting and instead gave thanks to God for the Holy Spirit. After praying in this way, I started to have a healthier attitude and began to recover from my depression. More significantly, my insomnia ebbed away.

When I thought about going back to Norway, however, I worried that I would revert to my depressed and hopeless state. I would be alone in faith, with no spiritual companions. I spent a lot of my time in prayer asking for God’s help. I thank God that He granted me the peace that I prayed for.

After eight weeks back at home in Vancouver, I was spiritually renewed and filled with joy at the prospect of reuniting with my husband and getting to know God better.


Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” I earnestly sought God’s kingdom and righteousness, and blessings began to pour into my life.

On my flight back to Norway, I thought that since I had gone through so much, it would be nice to take a trip to Italy with my husband. The following week, my husband called me from work and said the company had just given him a free one-week trip for two to Italy and asked if I wanted to go.

Another time, I was on the bus and decided that I would have Bible study and sing hymns that night. My husband usually watched television after dinner, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. That night, I told my husband that I was going to have Bible study, and he said he was going to watch television. He turned on the television and the cable was out. I had my Bible study for one hour and the cable came back on after that.

Three months in Norway turned into five and a half years. By the end of those years, I had many friends and a good job. God also provided a new place for us to live. I no longer slipped and fell going to and from the market because our new apartment was above a supermarket.

My husband was facing another transfer, and it was possible that we would have to move elsewhere within Europe or to North Africa. I was worried that we would be sent to a country where there was no True Jesus Church. Although I had maintained my faith in Norway, I wanted to be able to worship with other members.

While we were vacationing in Vancouver in the spring of 2008, we received a long-awaited phone call concerning our move. My husband told me that his company wanted to offer him a position in Houston. I was so happy! Not only did God hear my prayers, He knew my thoughts and worries and understood my needs.

In Houston, blessings from God poured in. I fasted and prayed for things to go smoothly when we moved, and God gave me a great apartment and a great job soon after arriving. I thank God that I am able to attend Houston Church and have the opportunity to serve Him. Not only can I worship with other members, I also get to fellowship with them and enjoy this blessing!

I have a greater understanding now for what Paul wrote to the church in Rome:

            And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom 5:3-5)

I believe that I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t suffered panic attacks, depression, and insomnia. I would not have actively sought God because my life was so smooth and carefree in Vancouver. But through tribulations, I turned back to God and He renewed me.

When I look back at my life, I can see how God has always been with me even though I turned my back on Him. He has blessed me my whole life, but I never appreciated His blessings or made the effort to follow Him until I faced difficulties.

My encouragement is for members who are blessed with a good life—be careful and maintain your faith because this is the time that you may face trials and fall. But if you fall, don’t forget to look for God. He is the only one who can bring you back up.

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