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3. Walking with God

Chapter 3

Walking With God

 The testimony in Chapters 1, 2, 3, was given

 in 1985, in Melbourne, Australia

The Beginning of My Walk with God

From that point on, I began to experience God through one miracle after another. My faith was being confirmed by these amazing miracles even in the ways God supplied my needs. Once I had a can of dried turnips that simply refused to go empty. No matter how much turnip I ate, the supply would not be exhausted. It was not until I got so sick of turnips that God finally stopped the supply. Later on I read a similar account in 1 Kings 17:15-16: “Her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of Yahweh which He spoke through Elijah.” This was only one of the many miracles I experienced. I also met some mighty men of God through whom God performed many great miracles. (But that is a long story in itself, and I will skip it for lack of time.) When people ask me how I know that God is real, I would tell them, “After having experienced so many miracles, how can I not know?”

Two and a half years went by. One day I asked God, “What would You like me to do? If You want me to stay in China, I’d be glad to stay, but please tell me what to do.”

I could not do very much. Every job in China was controlled by the government; you couldn’t even sell newspapers without government permission. Twice I applied to leave China but they would not give me a visa.

Hong Kong in the Fifties and SixtiesHong Kong ClubHong Kong ClubHong Kong in the Fifties and SixtiesHong Kong harbour in 1960Hong Kong harbour in 1960Hong Kong in the Fifties and SixtiesHong Kong in the sixtiesHong Kong in the sixtiesHong Kong in the Fifties and SixtiesHong Kong street in the sixtiesHong Kong street in the sixtiesPrevious Slide 1/4 Next

My health was getting weaker and weaker because of malnutrition. One day I felt a cold sweat, and I knew it could be a sign of tuberculosis—the same disease that struck my mother so severely that one of her lungs had to be removed. I went for a free X-ray and was told that I had a spot in one of my lungs. But I had no money to buy food, never mind medication. To get a second opinion, I went to another hospital for another X-ray, but the results were the same. There they issued me a card with a picture of two lungs, on which was a mark that indicated the location of my spot. This card gave me the freedom to travel throughout China with very little government restriction. I could even visit my uncle in Beijing. Why? Because every time I was questioned, I would simply produce this card and they would let me go. Nobody wanted to come close to me because everyone thought I had tuberculosis. This little card was probably one reason that I was eventually allowed to leave China.

God Spoke to Me in an Audible Voice

I was praying in my room one day when I heard a voice saying to me, “I will take you out of China.” So clear and distinct was the voice that I turned around to see who spoke to me. I saw nobody in the room. This was the first time (and not the last time) that God spoke to me in an audible voice. (Later on I found this statement in Isaiah 30:21, “And you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way. Walk in it.’”) Immediately after receiving this message from God, I started to pack my bags. Some brothers and sisters thought I had received an exit visa, but I told them, “No, I haven’t received anything yet, but God Himself told me He will take me out of China!”

The Bible gives many similar accounts of God speaking to His people. In the book of Acts, for example, the Lord spoke to Paul on many occasions. But the standard of Christianity today has become so mediocre that these experiences are now considered unusual or even strange. The problem lies precisely in the area of commitment: Today we have multitudes of lukewarm, half-committed churchgoers, but very few totally committed Christians. The church in the Western world is wishy-washy. It costs nothing to become a Christian. The statement, “Take up your cross and follow me,” has become meaningless to Christians in the West. This cheap diluted salvation will never help you to experience God or to know first-hand that God is real. But when you are totally committed to the Lord, you will experience his miraculous power, especially when you find yourself in difficult or critical situations. That is why the Christians in China experience miracles all the time. Becoming a Christian in China takes total commitment because it will cost you your life. For me to become a Christian in China required my total commitment.

How God Took Me Out of China

Through one miracle after another, God opened the way for me to get out of China. But when the visa was finally granted, I had no money to buy a ticket to leave the country. And how God provided! Out of the blue, my uncle sent me a sum of money even though he had never sent me any money before. He didn’t even know I was leaving the country. He received the money from my father which he didn’t want to accept, so he sent it to me just when I was about to leave the country. God’s timing is perfect!

But I ran into another problem. Though I had a visa to leave China, I could not enter Hong Kong. Because Hong Kong had too many refugees, the British authorities would not grant me entry unless I could prove I was going to another country. The problem dragged on for a long time, and my exit visa was about to expire. The Swiss consul phoned the British consul to request a visa on my behalf, but that too was refused.

I went before God and told Him that according to the Bible, any door that He opens, no one can close. The next day I went to the British consulate. The person at the counter asked me what I wanted, and I told him I wanted a visa to enter Hong Kong. He took my passport and asked me to wait. Then he came back with my papers and asked me how long I was planning to stay in Hong Kong. I asked for one month. Surprisingly, a visa was granted immediately.

When I crossed the bridge from Shenzhen to Hong Kong, the British officer asked me, “Do you speak English?” I said, “Yes”.

He said, “Your visa is very unusual.”

I asked him what was so unusual about a one-month visa.

He said, “No, you’ve got more than a month! They gave you unlimited stay in Hong Kong! I myself have never seen this kind of visa before!”

I asked him what I was supposed to do, and he said, “Well, you can stay in Hong Kong as long as you like!”

I ended up staying in Hong Kong for nine months, and was even able to get a Hong Kong CI (Certificate of Identity). If this was not God’s arrangement, how would you explain this?

My Search for Employment

In Hong Kong I asked the Lord, “Now that I’m here, what would You like me to do?” He gave me very clear indication that He wanted me to go to Europe. But how could I get the money to go to Europe without a job?

In the 1950’s, Hong Kong had tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees. How could I compete with them for a job? But God’s way is incredible. One day I came across a job opening for someone to translate from English to Chinese, and from Chinese to English. I immediately applied for this high-paying government job. On the day of the interview, I saw that many other applicants were competing for the same job. I took the oral and written examinations, and later I received a letter offering me the job.

Then God put me to the next test. It turned out that it was a permanent job whereas I only wanted to work temporarily and then leave for Europe. I was struggling within myself deciding whether to tell the employment officer or not. I knew I would lose my job if I did. When I finally decided to be honest, I said to the Lord, “You have done so many miracles. If it is Your will for me to keep this job, I will certainly have it regardless of the conditions of employment.”

I wrote a letter thanking the employment officer for accepting me. But I also told him that as a Christian I had to be honest about my situation: I only intended to work one or two years before setting out for Europe. In his reply, he wrote, “Thank you for your honesty but we are looking for a permanent staff member. Unless you reconsider and are prepared to work longer than one or two years, we regret that the job will be offered to someone else.” I had no choice but to tell them to give the job to someone else.

After making that decision, I got a scolding from the Christians who were staying at the Lutheran Home where I was staying: “That’s foolish! Don’t you know how many refugees are starving in Hong Kong?” One of those who scolded me had been an elder of our Shanghai church. He said, “The problem with young people is that they don’t know the realities of life. You get a good job and you turn it down. Look at me, I’m over fifty years old. I’ve been working at the same gas company for over thirty years, and what do I get? Just a little bit more than what you were offered. Imagine, a young man gets this kind of money! You’re out of your mind for turning it down!” So I got a good scolding from them. I didn’t say anything to defend myself and simply committed the matter to God.

Now I was back on square one, still without a job and still uncertain as to where I will get the money to go to Europe. A missionary school offered me a job as an English teacher, but the pay was so low that even if I worked there for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t be able to save enough to go to Europe. Eventually that job didn’t materialize either. I was aware that Hong Kong had many ships, so I approached many ship captains to ask if they needed a deck hand or someone to clean the cabins. The captains were very nice to me but they could not hire me because their ships had sufficient crew. But God had a plan for me; He was only testing my faithfulness.

God’s Miraculous Provision

Meanwhile, across the Pacific, on the west coast of the United States, in the state of Oregon, a lady was kneeling down in prayer. God said to her, “Go to Hong Kong because I have a job for you to do there.” This lady was perhaps around fifty-five years old and belonged to a wealthy family. She had never been outside the United States. For her to go to Hong Kong was like going to the moon.

She said to her husband, “When I was praying today, the Lord told me to go to Hong Kong.”

Her husband, also a fine Christian, said to her, “If the Lord wants you to go to Hong Kong, go!”

Then she went before God and asked Him what she must do in Hong Kong. The Lord simply said, “Go to Hong Kong and there I will tell you what to do.” (One of the principles of the Christian life is that God leads us only one step at a time.) So she journeyed to Hong Kong and stayed at the Lutheran Home where I was staying. Every day for several weeks, she kept on asking the Lord what He wanted her to do.

During my quiet time one day, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door and there was this woman standing there. She said to me, “The Lord has been speaking to me, and has instructed me to buy you a ticket to Europe.” I expressed my appreciation but I asked her to pray more about the matter. She quickly answered, “No! The Lord has made it very clear to me!”

A few days later she returned and asked me if I had booked the ticket or not. When I said no, she said, “Book the ticket. I am now very definite as to why God sent me here. He has given me a job to fulfill, and that is to send you to Europe. Book the ticket without delay!” It was a Friday.

From my daily reading of the newspapers, I knew the schedules, the routes and the fares for all the ships leaving Hong Kong for Europe. I also knew that the cheapest fare to Europe was for a particular ship that was to leave on the following Tuesday. After the American lady had kindly given me a cheque for the correct amount, I went straightaway to the shipping agent to book a place on that ship. But when I got there he informed me that the fare had increased by 20% due to the fighting at the Suez Canal (1956). The Canal had been closed because of the fighting, and no one knew whether it would be navigable in one month’s time when the ship would arrive in the area. If it is not, then the ship would have to take the much longer route around South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. I asked the shipping agent whether the extra 20% would be refunded if the ship was eventually able to go through the Canal. He was unsure, but said a refund was unlikely because of the higher cost of insurance for a ship going through the Suez immediately after the war (because of the danger posed by sunken ships and floating mines). In any case, a clause was attached to the ticket stating that: “In view of the situation at Suez, the shipping company retains the right to keep all or part of the additional 20%, and that any decision on this would be made solely at the company’s own discretion.” It was already Friday, and the ship was going to leave on Tuesday. How was I going to get the extra money?

When I returned to the Lutheran Home, the American woman asked me if I had bought the ticket. When I told her about the 20% increase, she exclaimed, “Praise the Lord! Everything’s just fine! While you were away, I got a cable from my husband informing me that he had just sent more money. He didn’t know why, but God had instructed him to send you this extra money. He felt you were going to need it. Here’s the money. Go back and get your ticket!” Praise God for His people who know how to walk with Him! I came all the way from China, and God sent somebody all the way from the United States to meet me in Hong Kong to send me to Europe! Can you understand this? Do you think this is mere coincidence? God is so real and amazing. His timing is impeccable. I left Hong Kong on Tuesday, and the woman returned to the United States on Wednesday.

My Voyage to Europe

The ship was a freighter that carried only twelve passengers. I shared a cabin with a person from Hong Kong who was travelling to Singapore. As the ship was getting closer and closer to his destination, and as the Singapore skyline was looming larger and larger, he knelt down with me and committed his life to the Lord!

For the rest of my journey to Europe, I had the whole cabin to myself so I could get some badly-needed rest and recuperate from my weakness. On the freighter everybody travelled first-class. With the good, nutritious food that I ate on the ship, and with the peaceful rest that I enjoyed, God was restoring my health.

A labor strike in Burma kept the ship there for a month, waiting for the cargo that it was to transport to Europe. As a result, I spent two whole months on the ship for the price of a regular journey. My health was restored by the time I reached Europe. The Lord really knows our needs.

During the voyage, the passengers were discussing among themselves whether the shipping company would refund the 20%. They asked for my opinion, and I said I was absolutely sure that I would be refunded the money. They were puzzled by my answer and asked me how I knew. I could not explain it to them, but I knew from the Lord that I would get back the 20%.

When we arrived in Europe, we got off the ship and went straightaway to the shipping company’s office. The agent promptly gave me a cheque for the 20%. The next person was expecting a cheque as well, but the shipping agent refused to give him anything because, as stated in the contract, the refund was entirely at the discretion of the company. My ten fellow passengers spent a whole day at the office trying in vain to get back their 20%.

Something was very curious about the 20% refund. I paid the fare in Hong Kong in U.S. dollars, and received the refund in Yugoslavia. But my refund was neither in Hong Kong dollars, nor in American dollars, nor in Yugoslav dinars, but in British pounds! All this was planned by God, as I would later find out.

My Arrival in Europe

After arriving in Europe, I immediately visited my mother in Switzerland; she had just had a near-fatal operation. I waited on the Lord to see what I should do in Europe. One day I went to Zurich to visit the president of the Bank of Switzerland, the gentleman whose signature was found on the back of every Swiss bank note. (Somebody in Hong Kong had given me his name and address.) It turned out that he was a very fine Christian; his whole family were fine and humble people.

When I was boarding a train to leave Zurich, his wife handed me a magazine so that I would have something to read on the journey. I accepted the magazine and thanked her. On the back cover was an advertisement of a Bible college. I said to myself, maybe I should apply to this Bible college.

I didn’t know what God wanted me to do. At first I wanted to study engineering, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it would be better to study at a Bible College before considering anything else. I cut out the advertisement and applied to this Bible College in Scotland. It was not until I was accepted by the college that I knew why I had received the refund cheque in British pounds. God had already foreseen that I would be going to this Bible college in the United Kingdom. When I paid the school fees with the cheque, it was exactly enough to cover my first term. God had worked out everything in advance.

God Provided for All My Needs

God continued to work in my life in amazing ways. When I arrived in England, I knew nobody. Because I was not allowed to work, I had to look to God to supply my needs for every school term. God tests our faith from time to time. Towards my final term in the Bible College, I had no money to pay the school fees. I counted the money in my pocket, and realized I would be in debt if I stayed another two or three days. What was I to do? The Bible says we must owe no man anything except love (Romans 13:8). I didn’t want to owe anything to anyone, and that included the Bible college.

I told the registrar that I was going to leave the College because I could not pay the fees. He put his arm around my shoulder and said, “Eric, we don’t consider you to be in debt—at least not until the last day of the term.”

Then I said, “Mr. Williamson, if God does not provide for me at the start of the term, how would I know that He will provide for me at the end of the term? I would be in debt by then, and that would be against the Biblical principle.” He pleaded with me to stay, but I told him I had to go. The diploma was unimportant to me.

I returned to my room upstairs and thanked the Lord for giving me a chance to study at the Bible College. If it were His will for me to go, I would gladly accept His will. I opened my writing pad to write some farewell letters, and what did I see inside? A bundle of brand new one-pound notes! I thought I was daydreaming. I counted the bank notes, and sure enough it was exactly enough to cover the expenses for the final term! I had never experienced anything like this before.

I went back downstairs to Mr. Williamson who must have been expecting a farewell handshake from me. You could imagine his surprise when I handed him the bank notes instead. After I explained everything to him, he said to me, “Eric, in this Bible College we have seen some really amazing things happen­ing in your life.”

Recent Events

I have to skip over the many years that have elapsed since my student days, and the many, many things God has done during that period. I wish to mention one last incident that took place only recently. This will demonstrate how the living God guides His people when they walk with Him.

Before going to that example, perhaps I could quickly mention something else that also happened recently (1985). As I was driving to town one day, I stopped at a crossroad near my home in Canada. In Canada, whenever a car reaches a stop sign (a 4-way stop), it must come to a complete halt. Whoever stops first has the right to cross first. After coming to a complete stop, I was about to accelerate when the voice of the Lord clearly spoke to me, “Don’t move!” So I stopped. Sure enough, a bus streaked across the intersection in clear violation of the law. The driver not only ignored the stop sign, he also failed to stop at the bus stop which was located just before the stop sign. Had I accelerated, the bus would have smashed right into my car. This was not the only time the Lord saved my life.

I come now to the final example. For one reason or another, in recent months, several brothers and sisters in our churches have been in a situation in which a parent has either died or was hospitalized in very critical condition. One of these brethren was a full-time sister co-worker in our Toronto church. Her father had diabetes, which led to further complications with his kidneys, forcing him to undergo regular dialysis. One day this sister gave me an urgent phone call: “I just received a long-distance call telling me that my father’s condition is worsening. But nobody, not even the doctors, know whether the situation is life-threatening or not. Should I go home?” I told her to look to the Lord herself. After waiting before the Lord, I received an indication from Him that her father was about to die very soon. I said to her, “Return to Malaysia as soon as possible so that you can witness to your father before he passes away.” She immediately took the warning and caught the first available flight to Malaysia. When she arrived, her father seemed to be in relatively good physical condition. She had a chance to witness to him for two or three days. Being a nurse herself, she knew something about his medical problems. Seeing that his condition was quite good, she went out to visit some Montreal brothers and sisters who had returned to Kuala Lumpur. But while she was out, her father died. So sudden was his death that she was caught by surprise. But God had already granted me to know that her father would not survive for long; that was why I told her to go immediately.

A similar incident occurred shortly afterwards. A brother in Canada received an urgent call from Hong Kong informing him that his father was dying from a heart attack. This brother quickly called me to ask me what he should do. God immediately gave me a message: his father will not die. I conveyed the Lord’s message to this brother but he gave further explanation, saying that the doctors regarded his father’s condition as extremely critical. But I said to him, “The Lord said your father will not die!” True to God’s words, the father is still alive to this day.

When you walk with the Lord, He reveals His secrets to you (cf. e.g. Amos 3:7; Daniel 2:19, 22, 28, 30). In both of these cases, the message that I received from God was open to examination. The outcome would immediately verify whether I was a false prophet or not. Unlike so many fortunetellers, I did not resort to ambiguous predictions that can be fulfilled irrespective of the outcome. On the contrary, God’s words that were spoken to me and through me were so clear and unambiguous that they could be tested and verified.

Conclusion

God’s greatness is simply amazing. I have shared only a small fraction of His amazing deeds, but even these few examples can hardly be accounted for by any human explanation. I could have given many more examples but our time has run out.

Now you can see that my becoming a Christian is inseparable from my serving God. I had no choice but to serve Him because of what I had promised Him. To be honest, there were times when I tried to run away, but God would always remind me of my promise to Him. Through all these years, He has kept me on the right track so that I have been able to serve Him by His grace.

Some of you may ask, “Why is God so real to you? Why don’t we experience the same things?” The secret is nothing more than this: If you are totally committed to Him, and if you are willing to take up your cross and follow Him, you will experience remarkable things from God just as I have.

 

(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church