ARDiscovering God's Living Spirit
I was startled awake at four o'clock one morning when the phone rang. When I picked up the receiver, I heard Vuthy crying emotionally. I asked him what was the matter, but he could not stop crying, and my heart sank because I thought it was something serious. When he was finally able to speak, he kept on repeating, "God exists, God exists."In this testimony, a sister tells of how an unstable childhood with divorced parents drove her to seek happiness in material success: money, career, and pleasures of the world. But these things can’t bring you true happiness, as God intended to show her. Through her fiancé’s transformation after coming to know the Lord, as well as an experience of her own, she decided to give God another chance. Previously, God had been so far away and seemed too busy to care. But after accepting the Lord and finding His church, He blessed her in many ways as she witnessed His guidance in many trials and long-unsolved problems that she had deemed hopeless. Today, she has a new take on life, and sees a future brighter than ever. Because God is in it.
In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, I testify to honor God and share
with the world how the Lord had brought me to His true church. May His name
As a child, I was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith and attended Sunday
services every week with my maternal grandparents (my father's family is
Buddhist). I acknowledged God and cherished the golden cross that I wore
around my neck, but I did not really know Him on an intimate, paternal
level. I just imagined God as this awesome and powerful figure who ruled the
earth from a far distance. I believed that He was a Supreme Being who could
not be touched and was too busy and important to care about the trivial
matters of this little world.
Every evening before I went to bed, I would routinely recite the Lord's
Prayer and then ask God for all the things that I wished for, never knowing
if He was actually listening.
LOSING MY GRASP ON GOD
My parents got divorced when I was seven years old, and as a result, I moved
from California to Massachusetts. I lived with my father in Boston during
the school year, and I spent the summers with my mother and new stepfather.
I really disliked my mother's new husband because I thought he was the
meanest, most dreadful man I had ever met in my life, and I blamed him for
breaking up my family.
After I moved to Boston, I stopped going to church because my father was not
religious. Still, every evening before I slept, I would say the Lord's
Prayer and then ask God to somehow bring my parents back together and
reunite my family. I believed that the reason why my parents were separated
was because of my stepfather, so I even asked God to "get rid of
him" if it were possible—then my family would be together again.
Many years of tears passed and I witnessed my family situation get worse. My
mother was stuck in an abusive relationship, my father had sunk into a deep
depression and drank often, and I was home alone in a dark basement
apartment feeling hopeless and empty, crying myself to sleep each night. I
doubted that there was really a God out there, and if there was, then why
was He not answering my prayers?
Eventually, I lost faith in God as my family remained separated and my
prayers continued to go unanswered. I had no close family members to rely on
and to comfort me, so I began to rely entirely on myself. My school friends
became the closest people to me. I was determined to be successful and happy
in life despite the circumstances.
The Bible warns us not to get caught up in worldly ambitions, "for all
that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the
pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world" (1 Jn 2:16).
But like many people living without God, my idea of success and happiness
was to be rich, have a high-profile future career, and enjoy all the
pleasures of the world as often as I could. Everything that I did in high
school and college was motivated by these three ambitious goals that I had
set for myself in life.
I became the most competitive and self-centered person, extremely proud of
my achievements. Each day I would work and study very hard to be the best
student, athlete, and community figure. In the evening I would sneak out of
the house, drink, dance, and party with my friends until morning. In fact, I
met Vuthy, my future husband in Christ, at a downtown nightclub.
GIVING GOD ANOTHER CHANCE
Vuthy and I were engaged my junior year of college, before I left to study
abroad in Paris. While I was studying in France, Vuthy called me and told me
how he had started attending some Bible studies and was really enjoying it.
I did not think too much of it because I understood Vuthy's personality
well. He would get excited easily about different things, but then he would
lose interest within a couple of weeks.
Surprisingly, Vuthy stuck with the Bible study longer than I had expected,
and every once in a while he would update me on what he had learned during
Bible study and tell me some testimonies he had heard. One of the memorable
testimonies he told me concerned a sister who was watching some bad things
on television, and as a result, God punished her with a terrible eye
One night I went with a couple of American students to a gay bar in Paris
just to check it out, because we heard that it was an interesting thing to
do. The place we went to is comparable to Sodom and Gomorrah, but back then,
I did not think that there was anything wrong with looking. It was not a big
deal to me since I was just hanging out, not really participating in the
The next morning, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I noticed that my
eye was swollen. I immediately thought about the testimony that Vuthy had
told me concerning the sister with the eye infection. I was a little
worried, and I wondered to myself if it were possible that God was punishing
me as well for going to the gay bar. Just to be on the safe side, I decided
to repent and see if the swelling would disappear.
Miraculously, my eye was back to normal that same afternoon that I prayed to
God! My belief in God was renewed after that incident, and I internally made
a decision to give my faith in God another chance.
I was startled awake at four o'clock one morning when the phone rang. When I
picked up the receiver, I heard Vuthy crying emotionally. I asked him what
was the matter, but he could not stop crying, and my heart sank because I
thought it was something serious. When he was finally able to speak, he kept
on repeating, "God exists, God exists." In between the sobs, he
explained to me that while he was praying, God's power came down through his
head. He felt a warm sensation throughout his body and he was overjoyed.
Vuthy then begged me to repent, kneel down, and pray for the Holy Spirit as
he had done, but I was really in shock. I was not sure if this was really
happening or if I was having a weird dream. Nevertheless, I knew that Vuthy
was very sane and that what he was experiencing was very real. Out of hope
and out of love, I promised Vuthy that I would sincerely give it a try.
Every evening, I prayed out loud, saying "hallelujah" and asking
for the Holy Spirit as Vuthy had advised me. I even attempted to change my
lifestyle and refrain from committing sin. Gradually, I stopped going to the
wild French parties, discos, and bars. Of course, all of my friends,
including my roommate, thought I was acting strangely, and even I was not so
sure myself about my faith and where it was heading. All I knew was that I
was beginning to fear God, and I was really starting to feel good about my
new outlook on life. I was no longer that interested in pursuing one of my
three stated goals in life—no longer was I indulging in all the sinful
pleasures of the world.
WON OVER BY EXAMPLE
My first semester in Paris ended and I was happy to return home for
Christmas break. I remember feeling so excited when the plane landed in
Boston, and I was particularly anxious to meet my fiancé and see if his
looks or personality had changed since we had been apart. He picked me up at
the airport dressed up in a suit, with flowers, a new haircut, and his big
He really did look handsome, but the most striking thing about him was not
his outward appearance but his countenance and quiet disposition. His face
was smooth and relaxed, almost glowing. All the previous anger creases on
his forehead seemed to have faded away, and he was standing there, looking
at me with gentle, loving eyes. When he spoke to me, I felt that he had such
a peaceful and content heart. It was evident that he had been transformed
into a better person, and I was grateful to God.
This airport encounter with Vuthy was the turning point in my spiritual
life. God had renewed my faith through Vuthy, just as the Bible says:
"...that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may
be won by the conduct of their wives [or husbands in this case], when they
observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear" (1 Pet 3:1-2).
Witnessing his transformation, I agreed with Vuthy to attend the Friday
evening Bible studies and Sabbath services. The sermons and Bible studies
sparked my interest, and I was beginning to understand God's words for the
very first time.
I grew fond of the church sisters, and fellowshiping soon became my favorite
pastime. I was supposed to return to France after the holiday break to
finish my studies abroad, but I was no longer interested in pursuing my vain
goals in life. Instead, I decided with Vuthy to pursue a peaceful and joyful
life in the Holy Spirit, and to get baptized and married together in Christ.
After a confirming prayer to God, Vuthy and I happily decided to get married
that summer. The entire Boston congregation traveled down to the Elizabeth
Church in New Jersey for the baptism on April 25, 1999, and then again on
July 10 for our blessed wedding ceremony. To top the year, God blessed me
with the Holy Spirit during our honeymoon—two weeks in Philadelphia at the
National Youth Theological Seminar.
A RELATIONSHIP RESTORED
Vuthy's faith could only carry me so far, and I needed God to touch me
directly so that my faith could rise to the next level of independence. For
me, that moment of confirmation occurred when God released me from the
bondage of hate and resentment.
As explained before, I did not have an ideal childhood because of my
parents' divorce. Living for the most part with my father, I never really
developed a good relationship with my mother. I hated my stepfather (now her
ex-husband) for sabotaging my family, but I also resented my mother for not
being around when I needed maternal love. My animosity toward her reached
its fullest during my time in Paris, when I wrote her an emotional letter
and made up my mind that I no longer wanted anything to do with her.
I had decided that I would never call her again, yet when I returned to
Boston, and Vuthy and I decided to get married, she was the first person I
thought of. I had not spoken to her for six months, and I remember crying
and feeling very sorry for myself because I could not share the good news of
my marriage with my own mother. Vuthy felt sad for me and encouraged me to
pray to God.
I took his advice, knelt down, and prayed to God with tears to release me
from my sorrow. Amazingly, right after the prayer, the phone rang—it was my
mother! She had received the letter I wrote to her from France some time
ago, and she wanted to speak to me about it. We ended up talking over the
phone for two hours about everything from the past to the present and my
This was the first time that my mother really opened up to me, and I felt
like I was getting to know her for the first time. I cannot explain how
joyous and lighthearted I felt after I spoke to my mother that night. I no
longer had any feelings of resentment or animosity toward her. God had
answered my prayers and miraculously restored my relationship with my
FREED FROM THE BONDAGE OF HATE
A few months later I flew to California for my maternal grandfather's
funeral. It was very nice to see my mother again and to kick off our
newfound mother-daughter relationship. I told her how I had found God and
the truth in the Bible, and she was very receptive and happy for me.
I was feeling very joyous and everything was going well, until I saw my
mother's ex-husband at the funeral home. Upon seeing him, all the deep
feelings of hatred and resentment that I had kept bottled up for over ten
years poured out of my heart. I truly despised him and I could not conceal
it any longer, lest I burst. I purposely did not speak to him all day and
tried to avoid seeing his face, but I could not stop thinking about him and
recounting how much suffering this man had caused me and my family to
That evening I was feeling very down and heavy-hearted, so I sought to find
some peace in reading the Bible. I had only been seeking the truth for about
five months, and I decided to read Matthew for the first time. It is amazing
how God opened my spiritual eyes to see how true and living the Holy Bible
is. I was able to absorb every verse that I read, and it was as if God was
speaking to me directly when I read Matthew 5:43-48:
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and
hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse
you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use
you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He
makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just
and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?
Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren
only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is
Tears fell down my cheek as I read these verses and thought about how far
from perfect my character is. I am nothing but a tax collector, not worthy
to be called a child of God. I did not love, but hated my mother's
ex-husband; I did not bless, but cursed him in my heart; I did no good to
him; I did not pray for him; and I did not greet him when I saw him at the
I felt very ashamed, but at the same time, I could not help the way I felt
about this man. I could not just forget the painful memories or erase my
emotional wounds and suddenly love a man that I had despised for over ten
years. People just don't change overnight.
I knelt down, repented for my evil heart, and prayed with tears to God:
"God, I do not have the strength in me to do what You want me to do. If
You want me to forgive and have love for this man, than You must help me,
for I cannot possibly do it on my own."
That prayer was one of the best prayers that I had in my life. When I got up
from my prayer, I felt like a thousand-pound burden of hatred and strife was
lifted off of my chest. I was finally released from carrying this burden of
sin. God had touched me deeply, and He did what was impossible for me to do
by myself. He had changed my heart and vanquished over ten years of built-up
anger and resentment within twenty minutes of prayer.
This change of heart was not just a temporary disposition. The next morning,
I saw my mother's ex-husband again at the funeral home. By God's grace, I
truly did not feel any animosity toward him. In fact, I actually felt sorry
for this man for the way he was, and I wished in my heart that he would
someday be able to know God and behold the same peace and joy that I had
received from Him. I even walked right up to him and sincerely greeted him
with a smile.
I had forgiven him and he did not even know it. But he did not need to know
it. This internal conflict was not really between me and him, but between me
and God, and it could only be resolved through God. Fortunately, our Lord is
the world's greatest Mediator.
GOD'S LIVING SPIRIT
Reflecting upon the wonderful life I now have in Christ, I am truly grateful
to God. It is funny how I rarely thought about God before, except during
Christmas or Easter—but once the depressing holidays passed, I would again
put God on the back burner.
Once in a while, I would feel really down and have an incredible urge to go
to a church to be nearer to God. But every time I went to the chapel and sat
down, hoping my soul would be comforted, I would feel nothing but emptiness.
Eventually, I would rise and exit the building after just sitting and
staring at Jesus' cross for a few minutes.
The cathedrals that I have visited are grand and beautiful indeed, but I was
not searching for aesthetic beauty—I was seeking for God's living Spirit. I
know now that the reason why my soul was not satisfied from being in church
was simply because God was not there.
In Acts 17:24, Paul states, "God, who made the world and
everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in
temples made with hands." Even though I earnestly sought for him, I
realize now, after receiving the true gospel and Holy Spirit, that God does
not reside inside a man-made building of brick and mortar. For "God is
Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (Jn
I really thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit and for opening my eyes
to find the truth of the Bible. I can now be sure that God exists and that
He really listens to our prayers. Best of all, I am comforted in knowing
that after all is past, there is the hope of everlasting life in His