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 (Manna 94: Time to Reflect: Our Beliefs)
A Life of Grace
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Daniel Liew—Portsmouth, UK

In the name of the Lord Jesus, I testify of His grace.


Looking back on my life so far, I realize how much my life has been touched by God’s blessings, even from the very beginning. I was born two months premature and weighed only 1.53 kilograms (three pounds and six ounces). I was a scrawny little baby, as my father so flatteringly explained years later, like a small raw chicken, able to fit in the cupped palms of his hands. By the grace of God, thirty-seven years later, I am a fully grown man, blessed to be a husband and a father of two beautiful children with very healthy birth weights. I was also blessed to be born into a True Jesus Church (TJC) household. I did not have to go through the struggle of searching for the gospel and grace of salvation or seek out God’s church.

My parents brought me up in the faith and always took my siblings and me to the church, both when we lived in Cambridge and after we moved to Portsmouth, United Kingdom. From young we attended church services and religious education lessons and learned Gods word so we could grow spiritually. Locally, the church held Bible camps and, when we got older, there was the National Student Spiritual Convocation (NSSC) every summer. I was always eager to hear and learn the words of God and have fellowship with friends. Through these many opportunities, I gradually learned more about the importance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not only the guarantee of our heavenly inheritance (Eph 1:13–14), but also our Guide and Helper in our life of faith (Jn 14:26; 16:13). Back then, I would hear about fellow students receiving the Holy Spirit or being touched by the Holy Spirit during prayer sessions. On the one hand, I felt a sense of joy because God’s promises were proven to be true. When someone was confirmed to have received the Holy Spirit, we would all thank God and congratulate the individual. On the other hand, after seeing so many others receiving the Holy Spirit, I felt a slight hint of jealousy because it seemed to be happening to everyone except me. Oh, how I longed for a prayer to end and a worker to confirm that I had received the Holy Spirit. I longed to know what it was like to receive the Holy Spirit and be congratulated by others. Thinking back, perhaps my mentality was a little wrong. Maybe I subconsciously thought of receiving the Holy Spirit as an achievement and something praiseworthy to attain.


Everyone’s experience of receiving the Holy Spirit is personal and can vary. Scripturally, the key is to speak in tongues, as this is the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–4). In 1999, when I was fourteen years old, I attended the NSSC at London TJC. During the convocation, there was an encouragement to pray for spiritual wisdom and teachings on how we should serve in the church. One evening prayer, I went to the front of the church hall with my fellow students to pray for the Holy Spirit and receive the laying of hands. So many of us squeezed into that space that it was almost impossible to move without bumping into someone! At one point during the prayer, I told the Lord that I needed His Spirit to guide me. Otherwise, how could I serve Him well and edify the church? Without His Spirit, I would not have the spiritual wisdom and strength to be useful to Him. Thank God for His grace that, in His time, He granted me the promised Spirit during that prayer! I remember the experience vividly. There was a strong power and pressure on my head like someone was pouring warm water on it, and this sensation filled me. I was enveloped in glorious light, and the Spirit enabled me to speak in tongues to glorify the Lord. I wept uncontrollably with joy because my mind had been enlightened, and two things became clear to me: that God exists and that I am one of His blessed children! That moment will always remain etched deeply in my mind. Suddenly, despite being surrounded by praying classmates, their voices became muted, and it was like there was no one else around me. It felt like I had transcended time and space; it was just me and our heavenly Father. What an experience!

When the prayer ended, I opened my eyes and met the gaze of the preacher who had led the prayer session. He looked at me with a broad and knowing smile and gave me a thumbs-up. Though he said nothing, we both knew what it meant. After I returned to my seat, I tried to tell my classmates that I had received the Holy Spirit and that God was real. But I was so overwhelmed I could barely get the words out. When they asked me if I was okay and if I had received the Holy Spirit, I nodded and smiled.

That evening before bed, I shared my experience with classmates to encourage them to pray more because God’s promises were true. I was glad to be reading and sharing the Bible with my fellow students. From then, I knew in my heart that I wanted to serve God in any way I could. This thought was rooted deep into my heart as I carried on with my life of faith.


A few years later, in 2003, I attended my first year of the Youth Theological Training Course (YTTC), in Newcastle. The lessons were edifying, and the students bonded together through fellowship. Thank God, I was attentive, eager to learn, and fared well in the various tests. Then a thought occurred that, perhaps one day, I could serve the Lord and the church as a full-time preacher. But I pushed the thought aside and gently chided myself for thinking someone like me could be a preacher. I reminded myself I should not think too highly of myself but be more sober-minded. I filed away those thoughts in the back of my mind and kept them to myself.

I attended my second year of the YTTC in Sunderland the following year. One of the lessons was about priesthood, and the lecturer began to talk about serving as full-time workers. The preacher shared some skills and qualities that would be beneficial for a full-time worker to have. He encouraged us that if we had such gifts from God, we should use them for the sake of the church to serve the Lord. As the preacher listed them, it was like a pencil was ticking off a checklist in my mind. Rather than feeling proud and arrogant for possessing such qualities, it was a humbling realization: If I had any “good qualities” or “skills,” it was only because God had blessed me with them, so I should use them to do His work. It was not the clear calling that some others have received in the past, such as hearing the powerful voice of God in a prayer or in a vision. Just as the pieces of a jigsaw come together to form a clear picture, my previous experiences and the teachings shared came together, and the message became clear to me: the Lord was calling me to serve Him with the gifts He had given to me. I knew I still had much to learn, so I began to pray that if this were indeed God’s will, He would lead me and help me grow spiritually so I could serve Him.

In my third year of the YTTC, we studied the Song of Solomon. We had an assignment to choose a verse from the book for personal reflection. I chose Song of Solomon 2:7:

            I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.

We had learned that God would not force believers to love and suffer for Him, because they would not be able to stand firm and would easily fall away from the faith. Instead, He hopes that when they are willing, they will awaken their love for Him and show it through action because this is what they truly desire. Forced love and genuine love are quite different, and the true nature of our love is revealed in testing times. I understand this passage to be true from personal experience. When my daughter was one or two years old, she would happily comply with my requests for a cuddle and a kiss. But one day, she came up to me and gave me a cuddle and a kiss completely of her own volition. Since it was not something demanded of her, it made her actions all the more precious. I was overjoyed. If I experience such joy as a father receiving unsolicited love from my child, imagine our heavenly Father’s joy when we freely love and obey Him! Now consider this: if we willingly and wholeheartedly love and obey the Lord, we will bear and endure all things, remaining faithful no matter what. Such love and obedience is a sweet-smelling sacrifice to the Lord. When we set our love upon the Lord, His love and help will be manifested in the good times and more so in the bad times. When we call upon God, He will deliver us, and we will be satisfied with His salvation (Ps 91:14–15). Thus, we love because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19). This love changes our behavior towards God and the brethren.

After reflecting, I concluded that though my heart was willing, my love for God had not yet been fully stirred up and awakened. There was still room to grow and more of the Scriptures to know so that I could become a useful worker, whether in a full-time capacity or otherwise. I needed to do better. I wanted to do better. My reflection became less of an assignment and more of a letter to Jesus. I asked the Lord to be patient with me and said I would try not to keep Him waiting too long. I would strive to be a useful vessel to Him.

After I submitted the assignment, one of the preachers came to ask me if I wanted to be a preacher. This surprised me because I had not told anyone this was in my heart. I confessed that I had considered it and explained why. Then he asked me if I was willing to serve as a preacher. I said that if God was willing, I was willing.

Reflecting on all that had happened, there was something I had to remember. Though I desired to be a preacher, God may have other plans. Regarding the role of the High Priest, Hebrews 5:4 says, “And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.” No one can be a preacher just because he wants to be one. If God is not willing, it would not matter how much you want it to be so. I reminded myself that whatever happens in the future, so long as I remained faithful to God and endeavored to do His will in all that I said and did, I would be doing my part to serve the Lord, no matter the capacity.

The call to serve was firmly in my mind and only strengthened over the years. Thank God I had opportunities to serve in my local church, including serving a term on the church board. Furthermore, I was able to join missionary trips to Africa. God provided me opportunities to participate in aspects of the holy work that I would not ordinarily have had the chance to do at such a tender age. These experiences helped me to understand the different works to be done, the diversity of members needing care and concern, and the many challenges that can arise while serving God. I also learned how to work with others to deal with issues and how important it is to rely on God while doing His work. I believe that God was preparing me for the path ahead. But I had to be willing to grasp these opportunities, so I could learn and be trained. I realized that I was most joyful when serving the Lord in the church and in life.


The question remained of when to step forward and say, “Here am I! Send me” (Isa 6:8). I applied for the theological training program (TTP) when I was twenty-seven, and this was considered fairly young. We had a newborn baby girl and were learning to be a family. People asked me why I decided to offer myself to serve at that time in my life. My wife Lisa and I had discussed various factors before we agreed on when I would apply. We wanted to have children first—with God’s blessing, we hoped to have two. If I were to apply and be accepted as a candidate, she would effectively be a single parent, looking after the children and managing things at home. We agreed that it would make things easier for her if I waited until the children were a little older before I went for training. This meant I would apply around my mid-thirties. Though I had considered applying earlier, after prayer and discussion with Lisa, this seemed a sensible plan, and we trusted that God would lead. However, life does not always go the way we plan, and what we plan is not always the best for us. The reason is simple: we do not know what will happen tomorrow. Therefore, what the Bible teaches us is simple too.

            A man’s heart plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps. (Prov 16:9)

            Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Prov 3:5–6)

If we pray to God, trust and acknowledge Him in our planning, we can have faith that whatever happens is part of His will for us. He will surely guide our steps onto a path He knows is ultimately good for us.

Even the best-laid plans must change to suit the circumstances, and the circumstances changed in 2012. This was an important year for me because two life-changing events occurred that would cause us to bring forward my application to be a full-time worker.

The first was my mother’s passing. She was fifty-two years old and suffered from liver cancer before the Lord called her to rest on February 21, 2012. The second event was the birth of my daughter in May 2012. I remember the joy of being in the operating theatre when she was delivered by emergency cesarean section, and I held her for the first time. I was a father at twenty-seven and entering this new chapter of life; who would have thought it? I felt both young and old at the same time. Within a few months, I witnessed the passing of one loved one and the birth of another, and I came to a realization. Life is short. My mother was not old by any definition, and I was already more than half her age. Who knew how long I would have left in this life to serve the Lord? I did not. Furthermore, the work was plentiful, and the workers were few. Once again, the pieces fell into place, and the picture was clear. It was time. I spoke to my wife and explained the epiphany I had. After we considered various factors and prayed about it for some time, we agreed to submit my TTP application at the end of 2012.


When we take the time to look back on our lives and count the blessings of the Lord, we can understand and more greatly appreciate the grace and blessings we have received. Then what God has given becomes a source of motivation to serve Him with a thankful heart, equipping us to serve Him according to the opportunities He gives us. We cannot allow the Lord’s grace toward us to be in vain. Instead, we ought to respond positively by living a life worthy of the grace we have received, by pleasing Him in all we say and do (1 Cor 15:10; Phil 1:27). Let us arm ourselves with a willing mind to use what we have received for the sake of the Lord and His church (2 Cor 8:12).

Figure 1: Preacher Daniel and family at his ordination ceremony

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Author: Daniel Liew
Publisher: True Jesus Church
Date: 05/01/2023