My Testimony (Part 3)
by Pastor James Ho, March 2011
God is the Molder – He shapes us into vessels fit for His use
In the early years after my re-baptism, Satan constantly tempted me in many ways. Among the greatest of the challenges he threw at me was in the area of love, testing whether I loved God or my loved ones more. It says in Mat. 10:37, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” This Bible passage posed the greatest challenge to me and perhaps to every believer of God.
After my re-baptism, I read the Bible daily. I had a yearning for the word of God. There was an impetus from within that motivated me to go to church. Though I still had lots of weaknesses, God was slowly molding me, renewing my mind.
One day, K’s younger sister and her two children came to stay with us. In the middle of the night, her 4-year-old daughter suddenly started to cough badly and woke everybody up. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I felt very bad for the little girl because she was crying and obviously in pain. So I prayed to God, “Lord, please have mercy on her. She is coughing so badly. Please let her stop coughing and get back to sleep.” After I prayed, she instantly stopped coughing and the night returned to complete silence. The instantaneous answering of prayer was an awesome experience. I quietly gave thanks to God in utter adoration.
However half an hour later, the 1-year-old baby started to cough. It was getting worse and the baby was crying and coughing at the same time just like his sister. I was hesitant as to whether I should pray to God again. There was a struggle within me. Was it purely a coincidence that my prayer was answered? Somehow there was a compelling force within me to pray for the baby boy because he was in great agony. So I prayed again, “Lord, please have mercy on the baby too. Otherwise, he will wake his sister and she will start coughing again. Then it would be worse than before.” Instantaneously, the baby stopped coughing and peace descended upon us. It immediately removed my doubts and strengthened my faith in God. Surely it was anything but coincidence!
The cost of answered prayer
I was deeply touched by the grace and mercy of God. I felt totally unworthy that God listened and responded to my prayers at such lightning speed. As I lay on my bed, I once again gave thanks to God and I felt His warm presence surrounding me. Entering into a deep communication with the Almighty God, I whispered, “Lord, I love You!” He responded, “Do you really love Me? If you do, I want you to give up 3 things.” I replied, “Lord, I am wholly Yours. Is there anything that I will withhold from You?”
(1) To please my father-in-law or make better use of time
God said, “Good! The first thing I want you to give up is ‘bridge’. You are never to play bridge again.” I mumbled, “Wow! What do You mean by that?” At our weekend family gatherings, I would entertain my father-in-law by playing bridge with him. I was in a dilemma. If I wasn’t allowed to play bridge ever again, how was I going to tell the family about that, especially my father-in-law? Besides, I liked playing bridge.
I soon realized that God did not intend to put me on the spot. He was using this opportunity to test whether I loved Him or my family more. At the same time, He was reminding me to make use of my time with the family. Instead of entertaining them with bridge, I should be using that time to share the gospel with them. After a bit of inner struggle, I made my pledge to the Lord never to play bridge again.
(2) To please my mom in doing things she liked or to be concerned for her soul
The second thing that God wanted me to give up was mahjong. I really loved the game. There was a time when I had a consecutive winning streak over 10 weeks when I played mahjong with my family in Vancouver. In Toronto, I seldom played the game. Every time I visited my mom in Vancouver however, she would book me for a game. Again, God was challenging me on whether I loved Him or my family more. Last time it was my father-in-law, but this time, it was my mom. Naturally it was much harder to confront my mom because I loved her more.
I was really wrestling with the Lord and I tried to evade the issue. The turmoil within was so great that I just couldn’t get back to sleep. Slowly, the Lord revealed to me that I should be a witness to my family. I was born anew and I shouldn’t indulge in this kind of game anymore (though we treated it as a game, but mahjong is commonly associated with gambling). He showed me that I should love my mom with the love of the Lord, and not just please her with doing whatever she liked. I should be concerned for her salvation and for being a good witness in front of my family. Finally, I gave in and made my pledge to the Lord never to play mahjong anymore.
(3) To be a lover of self or to be a living sacrifice
The third thing I had to give up was billiards. Wow! God is certainly all-knowing. He knows the heart of Man. He knew exactly how much I loved these games. In fact, amongst the 3 games, I loved playing billiards the most. I even had a cue specially brought all the way from Hong Kong when I immigrated to Canada. So how could I give it up so easily especially when it is a lifelong ban?
I vividly remember tossing and turning in bed as I pleaded to the Lord not to ban this game for life. I even mourned in tears but of no avail. I was restless and couldn’t sleep. Suddenly, God showed me 2 visions: the first one was Abraham offering his only son Isaac. The second one was the Lord Jesus being nailed on the cross. Then God said, “How can you say that you are totally committed to Me when you can’t even give up such trivial things? These things are only games and are external to you. I haven’t asked you to shed your blood for Me or to suffer any bodily harm. ” Suddenly I realized how shallow my love to God was and I wept bitterly in self disgust. I cried out to God for forgiveness and made my pledge never to play billiards anymore.
Once I made the pledge, I felt immediate relief as if all my burdens were lifted away. I fell asleep instantly.
My pledges to God: genuine or lip-service?
The weekend arrived and as usual we had a gathering with K’s family. I told them, “I will never play bridge or mahjong anymore.” They wondered, “Why?” I replied, “Because I made a pledge to God.” They were even more puzzled, “Do you mean that Christians can’t play bridge or mahjong even if they are not gambling?” I tried to explain that I was the exception to the rule. It did not mean that other Christians were forbidden to play them as non-gambling games. I shared with them that night’s experience with God. They just listened cynically. I knew that it would not be easy for them to accept what I said especially when most of them were Christians. My refusal to play indirectly posed a challenge to their spiritual lives. That certainly was not my intention. I was only fulfilling my vow to my God.
Amazingly, my father-in-law wasn’t angry with me. On the contrary, it aroused his interest and he started to ask me about religious beliefs. Soon after that, we started a Bible Study at home with the family on the weekend. That was exactly what God intended for us to do so that salvation was proclaimed to our family.
I passed the first test in dealing with my father-in-law. But the second test would be much harder because I had to face my mom. It just so happened that we scheduled to visit my mom in Vancouver that year and I knew that I had to face the challenge of honoring my pledge to God. As soon as we landed in Vancouver and met with my mom, she was so happy to see us that she immediately booked me for a game of mahjong. It took so much courage just to blurt out faintly that I didn’t want to play mahjong anymore. But she simply ignored me and started to call her mahjong partners. K was by my side and gave me a nudge. She whispered, “Why don’t you speak louder to your mom? If you can be so assertive in speaking to my dad, you can also be firm to your mom!” So I repeated to my mom, “I really don’t want to play.” Again, it fell on deaf ears as she continued to call up her mahjong partners. I was desperately praying to God for help because I had no more strength to repeat myself for the third time. Suddenly, I overheard my mom saying that one of her friends could not make it and so the game was off! Oh what a relief that was for me! I knew that it was divine intervention. On one hand, God allowed me to go through the test. On the other hand, He had a rescue plan for me. I had to struggle with the test. Though I was weak, God was merciful enough to deliver me out of trouble. I had passed the test with the help of God. Since then, I have never played mahjong.
The deceitfulness of Satan: an enemy from within own ranks
In 1989, we went back to Hong Kong for our theological training. There was an occasion where all the Hong Kong co-workers went for a retreat. We discovered that there were a few pool tables in the recreation room. I used to play with the standard size billiard table and I wouldn’t even cast my eyes on these small pool tables. However some of my co-workers asked me, “Didn’t you know how to play pool? We don’t know how to play but hey, you can teach us!” They didn’t know that I had made my pledge to God, but I thought that it didn’t restrict me from teaching them how to play as long as I didn’t play.
So I picked up the cue and showed them how to play the game. It became obvious that they were struggling even to hold the cue, let alone shoot the balls into the pockets. As I watched them play, I sighed at the easy misses and unsuspectingly, I was lured into playing the game. Then one of the co-workers handed me the cue and suggested, “This is a hard shot. I can’t play that. Can you play it for me?” I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t violating my pledge to God because in the past, I loved playing on large billiard tables, and not on these small pool tables. So I presumed that playing on the small table wasn’t included as part of the pledge.
As soon as the cue was in my hand, I didn’t want to let go again. I continued to play to my heart’s content. That night, I just couldn’t fall asleep. God rebuked me for playing the game. I defended myself saying that the small table wasn’t part of the pledge. But He said that whether it was on large or small tables, I should never play the game again. I suddenly realized that though I claimed to have quit the game, I still had strong cravings for it regardless of the size of the pool table. It was almost like an addiction to the game. God wanted me to be rid of my heart’s desire. Finally I confessed my sins before God and pledged never to play the game in any shape or form. I didn’t realize how deceitful Satan was. He used my own co-workers to lure me into sin. My co-workers certainly couldn’t be blamed for they didn’t know about my pledge. It was only after this incident that I shared my failure with my co-workers and we all were in awe at the deceitfulness of the evil one.
Rooted out the craving of the heart
There was one time I went to visit an inmate in prison. I shared with him about my pledge to God and my failure in playing the game of pool. He said, “Do you know that you can use the ‘Chinese pool’ (‘康樂棋’. The word for word translation in English is ‘recreational chess’. It was once a popular game in HK.) to play billiards?” It aroused my interest and I thought playing “Chinese pool” should be alright because it was really a different kind of game. So he taught me how to align the pieces into snooker formation and I found that fascinating indeed. Suddenly, I heard a voice sternly rebuking me, “Are you still craving for the game? Your heart has never turned away from the game.” I knew it was God’s warning and immediately I begged for His forgiveness. Finally I was determined to rid this game from my heart. From then on, I have had no more cravings for the game. Though I would watch some billiard games on the TV, my attitude was very different. I could remain as a spectator enjoying the game without indulging myself in it.
The Lord rekindled my heart to serve Him full-time
God had been transforming me in my temperament and also in my relationship with people. Through His reshaping and molding, I was rid of bad habits and He was rekindling my desire to serve Him. Actually, I had the heart to serve the Lord all along. Back in 1983 when the third training team started their theological training, the Lord reminded me, “Did you not say that if Rev. Chang started the third training, you would apply?” I responded that I wasn’t ready.
Two years went by very quickly and Rev. Chang announced that the application for the fourth training was open. I really wanted to join and I even had a meeting with Rev. Chang to discuss this matter. However, K wasn’t willing. So I withheld my application and told K, “I will surely apply for the fifth team. So let us make use of these next two years to prepare ourselves for the full-time missionary training.”
I had been working for the same company for over 6 years already. Since it was a crown corporation, according to the government policy, if I worked for over 9 years, my pension would be locked in until the retirement age of 65. The Government would double my retirement pension plus interest, but I would not be able to access the money until then. Since I was already determined to join full-time training, I certainly didn’t want any of my money to be frozen, so I was making plans to leave the company before my pension got locked in.
Meanwhile, the church’s Bible Study group in the University of Toronto needed help. I was working on the west end and the Bible Study group was at the city centre very close to where my wife worked. I was thinking that if I could find a job in the city centre, then I could pick my wife up and go together to that Bible Study group. During that time, K’s spiritual life was declining and I felt really sad about it. I had been thinking of ways to encourage her to renew her faith in the Lord.
It just so happened that my company’s fortune took a downward turn. They issued a notice to encourage employees to opt for voluntary separations. They would assess the application on a case-by-case basis and would compensate the successful applicant with a voluntary separation package. In fact, that was exactly what I was looking for because I could leave the company without my pension being locked in. So I immediately submitted my application and at the same time, started looking for a job. I prayed to God to lead me to a job located downtown so that I could help out with the Bible Study group and at the same time, invite my wife to attend too.
Seeking a job by faith
The company accepted my application for voluntary separation, so I immediately went to look for a job. I remember in one of the interviews, the interviewer asked me point blank whether I was a Christian. I answered “yes”. Then he asked, “If you are a Christian, then do you think that the Lord will give you this job?” It was a sharp question indeed. I replied, “If the Lord wills, I will get the job.” But he wanted a more direct answer and so he asked again, “But what do you think? Do you have faith in getting this job?” He didn’t want me to be evasive. So I conceded, “I know that I am qualified for the job, but may the will of the Lord be done.” When it was my turn to ask him questions, I asked him whether he was a Christian. He admitted that he was. Then he told me that the job wasn’t really suitable for me. He explained that a project was left hanging because they had dismissed one of the team leaders, and that they were looking for someone to fill in and take full responsibility for the project. However all signs pointed to the project failing and in reality, they were looking for a scapegoat. He called his colleague and referred me to another position. That manager was also a Christian. The interview went well and they both recommended me for this new position.
I left the interviews with full confidence that I would get the job. Then that very night, I dreamt that I went for a job interview. While waiting in the meeting room, I was surprised when a clergyman walked in. He greeted me with a smile and I smiled in return. Suddenly, his head melted in front of me like wax.
I was so frightened that I woke up from this weird dream. While contemplating what this dream meant, I figured that it was somehow related to the job. So I prayed to God, “If it is not Your will, then I would rather not have the job.” As a matter of fact, the salary and location were very satisfactory. However, it was a bit far from the city and if I wanted to go to the downtown Bible Study after work, I probably wouldn’t make it on time.
Fulfillment of the dream
After a few days, the company called me and the personnel manager said, “Due to the company’s recent budget forecast, there is a freeze on the position that you applied for. But there is another position that is suitable for you in another department. Would you like to come for the interview?” Seeing that there wasn’t much choice, I agreed to go for yet another interview.
Wow! This position offered an even better prospect than the previous one. It was so tempting. First, I would go for an all-expense paid 3-month training in South America, living in a luxurious hotel facing the ocean…. While I was visualizing myself sitting on the patio enjoying the ocean view, we were suddenly interrupted by the manager’s secretary. She whispered a few words to him and immediately, he turned pale. He stood up and said apologetically, “I am terribly sorry. I have to stop the interview now and maybe we have to meet another time. Just a few minutes ago, lightning struck the tree in my backyard and it collapsed. Somehow, the tree fell in such a way as to cause a power outage in my house. My wife recently had an operation and was resting at home. Now she’s panicking and I have to rush home immediately to take care of the whole situation.”
It was funny that a freak accident would happen right in the middle of my interview. I had nothing to say except to wish him well. It was raining heavily as I drove home. Suddenly, the vision of the weird dream reappeared and I got the message that if it were not the will of the Lord, then I wouldn’t have this job either. As it turned out, the job was also put on hold because of the company’s poor budget forecast.
Faith shaken: Reverting to my own game
My last day at work was fast approaching and I still didn’t have another job. Though I had gone through similar situations before, with the Lord providing me a job at the last minute, my faith was shaken when I faced the reality of not having a job after so many near misses. Finally I resolved to call my former boss and ask whether he had any job prospects. He was very kind to me and shortly after my call, referred me to a job interview. The interviewers were very pleased with me because of the referral from my former boss. When they put the offer on the table, it was $7000.00 less than what I was earning at my present job. But I still accepted the offer. The only concern I had was whether it was really from the Lord because it was still too far from the city and again, I might not be able to help out in the downtown Bible Study group.
God’s thoughts are higher than ours
On Wednesday, two days after the interview, was my wife’s birthday. In order to give her a surprise, I took a day off from work and stayed at home to give the walls a fresh coat of paint. Suddenly, I received a call from an employment agency. He asked me whether I was still looking for a job. That job was located downtown. When I heard the address of the company, I knew that it was very close to the Bible Study group. I told him however, that I had already got a job offer. He asked if I already had the offer on hand. I told him that I was still waiting for the official letter and that it should arrive any day now. He insisted that I went for the job interview because he said that as long as there was not a legal contract on hand, it wasn’t binding. Since he was so persistent, I agreed to go for the interview that afternoon.
As it turned out, the manager really liked me and expressed that he would recommended me for the position. However, I had to confess to him that I had already got another offer and it was against my conscience to reject the previous offer in lieu of this one. He persuaded me to seriously consider the job but he also couldn’t offer me the job immediately as he had to set up another interview with his department manager to finalize the offer. I honestly told him that I would not consider his job offer unless there was a change of condition from the previous job offer. He respected my decision and was willing to wait for my reply and put the job on hold.
On Thursday, the next day, I received the letter of employment from the previous company. But to my surprise, they had further reduced my salary. I immediately called the personnel manager and asked why the terms of employment were changed. He said that it was according to the standard company salary scale and he had already tried to submit my case to the salary review board but failed. I told him frankly that I had another potential job offer and since there was a change of conditions, I could not confirm my acceptance of his offer. He then asked me which company it was and when I told him, he immediately replied that it was a better company to work for. He was also kind enough to say that he would wait for my decision before he gave the job to somebody else.
Another challenge of faith: The Lord’s will be done
After that, I called the other company to say that I could consider the position he offered. The manager was very happy to hear that and wanted to set up the interview with the department manager the following Monday. However I told him that I would be away for my church’s summer camp for a week and would not be able to go for the interview until after the camp. He respected my decision and the interview was set for the Monday after the camp.
In fact, it was really a challenge to my faith because the very next day, Friday, would be my last day of work with no definite job offer in sight. But I put the Lord’s work as first priority. I refused to go to any interview during the period of the church camp. I told both companies that I had to go to church camp for a week and that I would not make any commitment until after the camp. As it turned out, both companies were willing to wait for my reply till then.
After the camp, I went for the interview located downtown with the department manager. It went very smoothly and the next day, they made me an offer. I was overwhelmed by God’s intervention and how He led me to the right job. I could then serve in the Bible Study group and my wife also went with me to the group. How perfect His solution was. It reminded me of the Bible passage in Mt. 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
Vision: a perfect jigsaw puzzle
Time flew and application for the fifth training was approaching. I told K, “I will apply for the fifth training.” She replied, “Good! Go ahead. But let it be clear that I won’t apply.” Afterwards, K would remind me to apply for the training, even bidding me not to procrastinate. Having prayed earnestly to God, I submitted my application for the full-time training. I was haunted by the prospect of choosing between God and my wife. I knew that I had to face the toughest challenge of my life. But somehow God revealed to me a vision: it was a jigsaw puzzle. Every piece was perfectly in place and it showed forth a beautiful picture. He comforted me and told me not to worry, but to just cling to Him. He assured me that He would lead me triumphantly through the toughest battle of my life.
A trip to the States: Confirmation of my future in serving the Lord
In 1988, we went for a wonderful trip to the United States. First, we flew to San Francisco then we rented a car and drove to the Grand Canyon. From the Grand Canyon, we drove back to the southern tip of California. We headed north from San Diego along the Pacific Coast highway and came back to San Francisco. The whole round trip covered over 3000 km in 16 days. During that time, the Lord was so gracious to us that we encountered many unusual experiences and deliverance from life-threatening situations. I want to share with you only one such unusual experience.
We passed through lots of cities along the Pacific Coast highway. One particular street name appeared in practically every city we entered. In fact, I lost count of how many times we got lost on that street. Sometimes we thought that we were circling around the same city when in fact, we were already in another town but driving along a street with the same name. Do you know what the name of the street was? It was “Mission” Street. Could it be so coincidental that on the return trip to San Francisco from San Diego, somehow and somewhere along the journey, we ended up on Mission Street? I asked K, “Do you think that God is leading us to see that for the rest of our lives, we will be serving as missionaries?” K replied, “Perhaps that’s true for you but not for me!”
While flying back to Toronto, we both acknowledged that it was one of the best trips we had together. K said, “This will be our last trip together. From now on, you go to serve the Lord and I go my own way.” It was as if a sword had pierced right through my heart. I pleaded with her, “Is there anything that will change your mind?” She replied, “Unless there is a miracle!” I said, “Then I will pray for that miracle to happen.”
Interview for the Fifth Training
A week after our return from the trip, Rev. Chang came from Montreal to conduct the interviews for the fifth full-time missionary training. When it was my turn, I knew that Rev. Chang would ask me about K. Indeed, during the interview, Rev. Chang asked, “If you are accepted in the fifth training which will be conducted in Hong Kong, what will happen to K?” I said, “She will stay in Toronto and I will go to Hong Kong.” He asked, “But wouldn’t it pose a strain on your marriage?” I said, “I really don’t know.” Actually, I really didn’t want to think about it. We discussed about this matter for a while and finally, Rev. Chang said, “Alright, I will accept your application for the fifth training.”
Mixed emotion: Entering into the fiercest spiritual battle of my life
On my way back after the interview, I had mixed emotions concerning my acceptance into the fifth training team. I really didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. To be honest, I was more grieved and heavy-hearted than full of joy and gladness. I wondered what my reaction would have been if Rev. Chang rejected my application instead. However, my worst nightmare had materialized - I might have to part with K in choosing to serve the Lord. The real and fierce spiritual battle had begun.
When I got home, none of us said a word. After dinner, I finally gathered all my courage to tell K that I was accepted. K abruptly stood up, ran upstairs, slammed the bedroom door, and turned on the TV. I was deeply hurt. I could only cry out to God to help me to overcome in this fierce spiritual battle. Then the vision of the jigsaw puzzle reappeared, but it wasn’t perfect, because it missed the most vital piece - my wife. So I asked God, “What will happen to my wife now?” Somehow He gently reassured me, “Do not worry. You just go. I will complete the jigsaw puzzle for you.”
Satan tried to inflict irreparable damage: Triumph through earnest prayer
Following the fifth training interview, there was a joint summer camp held by the Montreal and the Toronto churches. The camp theme was based on Lk. 18:8, “….when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Satan wouldn’t miss such an opportunity to lure my wife away from going to the camp. In previous camps, my mother-in-law would always join us. This time however, something cropped up and she couldn’t go. My wife was very much attached to her mom. If my mother-in-law couldn’t go, very likely she would stay with her mom and not join the camp. However, thanks to earnest prayer support from brothers and sisters from the church, she finally decided to attend. I knew that the Lord was behind her change of mind which paved the way for a miraculous deliverance.
This 4-day camp was the miraculous turning point in K’s life. Before we attended the camp, I prayed to God earnestly that He would lead 3 persons to talk to K voluntarily without my deliberate invitation. I saw it as human intervention if I were to request them to talk to K. I also wanted to live out the camp theme which was focused on ‘Faith’. I prayed to God to increase my faith in Him and to wait for His deliverance.
One of the 3 persons I had in mind was Rev. Chang’s wife. There was one time that she just happened to sit next to me. I was so nervous that I really wanted to beg her to talk to K. I couldn’t sit still. My heart was struggling as to whether I should seize such a golden opportunity to cry for help from Rev. Chang’s wife. I was very emotional but I prayed earnestly to God to grant me silence and to trust in Him alone. God worked amazing things. Indeed, I witnessed the 3 persons talk to K without my intervention on separate occasions and I marveled at God’s doing. During the third night of the camp, while I was with some brothers and sisters, I saw from a distance that Rev. Chang’s wife was talking to K and that she was crying. I prayed silently that God would continue to melt her hard heart.
Finally on the last day of the camp, I had the opportunity to sit with my wife. I noticed a definite change of attitude. That was encouraging and I continued to commit K to God in prayer.
Amazing Grace: K changed her mind
On the way out of the camp, we didn’t talk much and I didn’t know if my prayer was answered. It seemed that both of us were deep in thought. It was like an invisible cloak of fear had oppressed me, preventing me from asking her how she felt about the camp. Any negative response would mean that my prayer of faith was somehow not answered and that was what I feared most. The camp could be the last chance for K to change her mind.
The next day after work, K suddenly suggested we go out for dinner instead. While we were having our meal, she asked whether I knew how she felt about the camp. I said “no”. Then she asked if Rev. Chang would still consider accepting her into the fifth training. I was stunned and didn’t know how to reply. She shared that in the camp, she was deeply moved by the love and faithfulness of God and it just melted her hardness of heart. So she confessed to God and pledged to serve Him for the rest of her life. After the camp, she was a renewed person.
After that, we had an opportunity to talk to Rev. Chang regarding K’s intention of joining the fifth training. He said to K, “I don’t know what reason I have to accept you. There are over 40-50 applicants and I have already rejected almost half of them. Amongst those who were rejected, some were lay leaders serving in the church. But you haven’t been actively serving for the last 2 years and you didn’t even attend Bible Studies regularly.” K replied, “I know that I have wasted my last 2 years. I feel really bad about it. But I have repented and confessed to God. I have made my pledge to God to serve Him faithfully for the rest of my life. I know that I will do my best and I will never go back on my word.” Seeing her determination, Rev. Chang said, “Right now, I cannot give you a definite answer. I need to wait upon God for His decision. Meanwhile, please be patient and commit this matter in prayer.”
A few months had passed and there was still no news. By that time, Rev. Chang had already gone back to Hong Kong to prepare for the fifth training. Our families knew that I had given up my career and that I would be going back to Hong Kong for the training. They also knew that K hadn’t been accepted yet. They were opposed to my decision to go for full-time missionary training and they constantly applied pressure on us. I really had to cling to God for strength and wait for His deliverance.
I had to book my air-ticket to Hong Kong by early December 1988 if I were to arrive for the training on time. Unfortunately, the result of K’s application was still uncertain. K said, “If I am not accepted, I will stay in Toronto. But whatever Rev. Chang suggests for me to do, I will follow. So please don’t worry. I will continue to pursue the Lord.”
Ending: Heartbreaking separation or perfect union?
On Sunday, December 1st, the long wait was ended. After the service, our pastor approached me and said, “Rev. Chang called me from Hong Kong. He has accepted K into the training!” Wow! I was completely overwhelmed. The heaviest burden in my heart was suddenly lifted away. I was filled with inexpressible joy and thanksgiving to God. Now the vision was clear: God has put the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle and it revealed the most beautiful picture I had ever visualized in my life. I recalled that before the church summer camp, I was on the verge of facing a heartbreaking separation from my wife. Now, through the grace and mercy of our God, He holds our hands and renews us with a perfect union of heart, together we launch out to a new chapter of our lives to serve Him.
I knew that my wife and I would labor for the Lord with all our heart, our mind and our strength. We would never disappoint God for His unfathomable grace. So in the end of 1988, we left Canada to go to Hong Kong for theological training.
Heartfelt thanks to God: Walking hand in hand with my wife to serve the Lord
I very much desire to be a vessel that brings glory to God and to faithfully abide in His will. I would accept His molding into any shape or form under any circumstances if only I could bring Him honor and glory. Whatever severe test awaits me, I plead to God to have steadfast faith in Him to overcome all obstacles. I have tasted so much of His goodness that I know His grace is sufficient for me. As a matter of fact, there is always a challenge to our faithfulness to God when people, such as friends, family and our most beloved stand in the way of our relationship with God. It is written in 1Samuel 2:30, “Therefore the God of Israel declares, ‘….for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed….’” God has been refining me through trials and testing. He is leading me every step of the way. Through every test, even when my marriage was on the line, God delivered me by His mercy and loving kindness.
As a matter of fact, every Christian will face the challenge of faith through trials and temptations during our pursuit of God. It is only through faith and complete dependence on God that we can remain faithful to Him, and when we do, God will surely deliver us.
Now K and I are serving God and He continues His refining work in our lives through many trials and testing. I won’t go into the details of all such experiences with the Almighty God here. I would like to convey to you one point though: Our God is a compassionate and loving God. He can shape our lives to withstand any of life’s challenges. In Isaiah 46:3-4, it says, “…You who have been borne by Me from birth, and have been carried from the womb; even to your old age, I shall be the same, and even to your graying years I shall bear you! I have done it, and I shall carry you; and I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you.” To be able to walk with God and follow Him is the best thing in my life. May all honor and glory be given to the Most High Eternal God.
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church