Youth is the golden period of life and a time when hopes are high and the future bright.
But for me, a 20-year-old freshman in college, I was addicted to drugs. My outlook on life was bleak. In the midst of a severe drug addiction, I became dreary and desolate-losing all hope in life to the point that even my family was ready to give up on me.
ADDICTED TO DRUGS In 1990, my father sent me to the United States to continue my studies. Coming from Taiwan and not having my immediate family with me, I stayed with my aunt and attended high school in New Jersey. Since she was very strict with me, I decided to apply to the University of Arizona because I wanted more freedom.
My wish was realized in 1995. As I moved into the dormitory, I felt like a bird suddenly released from its cage. I was bursting with excitement and joy! With the luxury car my father gave me, I went to many parties where alcohol and drugs were consumed.
Curious and naive, I tried everything. I told myself, â€œIâ€™m strong and I can control myself.â€ Unfortunately, I overestimated myself and, before I knew it, I became addicted. I knew something was wrong when the drug use and spending escalated. I told myself to stay away from drugs but I caved into my cravings time and again.
What shocked me most was losing my hair. Because of heavy drug use, my hair came off by the handful each time I combed through it. It made me so anxious that, at one point, I shaved it all off, thinking that it would grow back fuller. But even that was futile.
Growing bald at 20 when appearance means everything was a terrible blow to my ego. It made me lose a lot of confidence in myself and it devastated me. With the way I looked, any possibility of finding romance was out of the picture, too.
Between 1996 and 1998, I became deeply troubled over my baldness. I wore a baseball cap everyday and hid from visitors. I was going insane. Once, I even thought of getting a hair transplant, but the transplant would not work with the little hair that remained.
Crushed, I turned to alcohol to numb the pain. I continued to take drugs and wallowed in self-pity and depression. My grades suffered and I was eventually expelled from school.
FAMILY TURMOIL Realizing his son was wasting away, my father urged me to stay with my brother in California for a change. So from 1998 to 1999, I attended college in California. But I still could not extricate myself from the deep addiction.
At this point, even my family was apprehensive about hearing from me. My sister, Ruo-Lan, lamented in retrospect, â€œMy brother would often disappear for two to three days at a time. Whenever he called, he wanted money to redeem himself from drug dealers. He was terribly threatened. I was so nervous everyday and was afraid to receive his calls.â€
As heartbreaking as it is for me to recount this, my mother even knelt down in front of me and begged me to turn from my ways. But at the time, my heart was hardened and my body enslaved to drugs.
Everyone in the family felt hopeless and did not really know what to do. My father wanted me to start off on a clean slate by going back to Taiwan to serve in the military, but having been in the U.S. for eleven years and not graduating from college was too embarrassing for me to go back.
I was so lost that I even thought about becoming a Buddhist monk. In such helplessness, I decided to take my grandmotherâ€™s advice: â€œBelieve in Jesus! This is the only way.â€
SEARCHING FOR GOD From then on, I would turn to the gospel channel at night, and soon I began to experience extraordinary things.
When I wanted to smoke, I would hear the TV evangelist preaching against smoking. When I loitered on the streets, I would hear voices or messages telling me to go home. When I wanted to read or watch pornography, either I could not reach the magazines under the sofa or the tapes were somehow erased.
At that time, I didnâ€™t understand the spiritual realm and thought that some extra-terrestrial beings were guiding me. As I watched the gospel channel, I also learned to read the Bible. I often came across Bible verses that urged me not to fall into the traps of the devil. Slowly, I realized that God detested filthy things, and so I burned all the pornographic materials I had. I also started to pray and asked God to deliver me. Oftentimes, my desolation humbled me to tears and hopelessness.
One time, a True Jesus Church member introduced the gospel to my brother. But since my brother did not believe in God, my sister was invited to church instead. She went to church to pray for me-to ask God to help me. When she got back that night, she said, â€œItâ€™s so amazing! The Holy Spirit is in the True Jesus Church!â€
GUIDANCE TO THE TRUE JESUS CHURCH I wanted to go to the church, but I hesitated because of my baldness. Besides, wouldnâ€™t it be the same for me to pray and study the Bible at home?
Even so, God moved a church sister to invite me to the church. Because of my baldness, I repeatedly declined her invitations. Despite her persistence, I told her, â€œIâ€™ve made up my mind, please donâ€™t call me again.â€
I thought to myself, â€œWhy wonâ€™t she give up and hang up?â€ Then I said to her, â€œUnless God calls me to go, then I will go!â€ Before she hung up she said, â€œOkay, thatâ€™s fine. Why donâ€™t you write down the address of our church: B-a-l-d-w-i-n, Baldwin Park Church.â€ I was stunned when I heard the address. What does she mean-Bald Win? The bald will win? Iâ€™ve been struggling with baldness since I was 20. Does this mean that God wants me to go to this church and I will overcome my baldness? Does this mean Iâ€™m going to win?
This really gave me hope and I later asked Ruo-Lan, â€œIs it true that the church is in Baldwin?â€ When she confirmed it, I cried aloud, â€œThe Lord Jesus has mercy on me! I want to go to church! I want to go to church!â€
Wanting to go to church is one thing, but having to face people with my baldness was much harder. I was struggling emotionally when I first visited the church. I even put on some hair-enhancing spray. After I went home from church, I dreamt that my hair grew back. This could only be the wonderful assurance of God.
In subsequent services, I felt that God spoke to me through the sermons. Many times, I was deeply moved and realized that I should not be so uneasy with my appearance. There were only two things that really mattered: fearing God and hating sin. I also experienced the word of God: â€œFor the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heartâ€ (Hebrews 4:12).
As I came to understand the Bible, I stopped wearing my baseball cap. I was no longer afraid to reveal my true self in the church and in my worship. I also repented completely before God and asked Him to forgive my past transgressions. Overwhelmed by my past sins, I could only rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome my weaknesses.
RENEWED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT I was determined to pray for the Holy Spirit everyday. By December 2000, I started to fast and pray before services. I told myself, â€œI will always remember the day when God gives me the Holy Spirit.â€ In the morning of December 25, I encouraged myself to fast and focus on prayer in the church.
In tears, I repented from all my past transgressions. Then, a great surge of heat came upon me while I was deep in prayer. It was as if my whole body was electrified. I felt a strong current coursing through my hands. It was an experience of Godâ€™s power I would never forget. After prayer, several church members told me that when one receives the Holy Spirit, one would be joyful and speak in tongue. I could not speak in tongue, yet, but I decided to pray again the next day. The next day, I prayed wholeheartedly, and the same power came back again, but I did not speak in tongue. Later, the pastor advised me not to be too tense. Soon after that, I received the Holy Spirit.
Itâ€™s great to receive the Holy Spirit. When I have bad thoughts, the Holy Spirit rebukes me and heightens my awareness of them. I then submit to the Holy Spirit and the thoughts disappear right away. Whenever I feel the urge to use drugs, smoke, or drink, I pray in the spirit. The Holy Spirit helps me overcome the desires, and I once again find peace, happiness, and joy in the Lord.
In March 2001, I was baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. I felt like a new man after baptism because all my burdens were removed. In the past, I was an empty and hopeless shell, harboring suicidal thoughts, wreaking havoc on my family, and loitering on the streets.
Yet, the merciful Lord pulled me out of darkness and brought me into the light. He chose me and gave me the Holy Spirit; He enabled me to be reborn. All that I have and all that I am is from Him. This is why I feel so strongly about Luke 1:79: â€œTo give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.â€
Yes, only the Almighty God can perform such a miracle. Having experienced Godâ€™s grace, Iâ€™m always joyful to see the Light in my life. The transformation from my struggles to my triumph over sin encourages me to journey on the path of light.
In church, Iâ€™ve experienced the true love of the brothers and sisters, and I can finally let go of past resentments. I am also compelled to turn this grace into action-to share His grace with others. The Lord Jesus is â€œ[my] way, [my] truth, and [my] lifeâ€ (John 14:6).