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1. From Childhood to Knowing God

Chapter 1

From Childhood to Knowing God

Reason for my sharing

Who is God? How did I come to know God? There are so many religions in the world, so why did I choose Christ­ianity and believe in the Christian God? If some of you have faced the same questions and have found the answers, I would encourage you to share your thoughts so as to help those who are still searching for the truth.

Since becoming a Christian, I have encountered many trials and chal­lenges to my faith. I would like to take this opportunity to testify that there is only one God, and that He is both faithful and true. It is my fervent hope that this shar­ing will help those seeking God to understand His reality, to strengthen their faith, and to pursue the living God with un­divided attention.

My childhood experience with religion

My experience with God goes back to early child­hood. I recall that at the age of five, my mother wanted me to be bap­tized as a Catholic so that I may be eligible to study at an English school run by a Roman Catholic school board. My mother ar­ranged for me to go through all the required religious ceremonies, and after a couple of years, I received Con­firmation and accordingly professed to be a Roman Cath­olic (Roman Catholics consider Baptism and Confirm­ation as two of the sacraments).

Although I had come to know God when I was a child, and believed that I was fulfilling my religious duties by at­tending the weekly Sunday Mass, I really didn’t experience God on a per­sonal level. At church I was easily distracted. I couldn’t sit still, and I would often turn around to see what the others were doing. I remember one incident vividly. I was with my two elder brothers attending Sunday Mass. We started talk­ing softly about girls, and got so carried away that we raised our voices as our discuss­ion got heated. Unfortunately for us, we were standing close to the confessional, and the priest in the confess­ional dashed out towards us. While I was still yap­ping away, my two elder brothers quickly bowed their heads in a solemn “worshipful” manner. I felt someone tapping my shoulder, and as I turned around, lo and behold, the priest was standing there and then he slapped my face. It was such a humilia­ting experience. In fact, after the incident, I had to line up for confession to the same priest who had slapped me. (Con­fession is a Roman Catholic sacra­ment, a means of confessing our sins to God, with the priest acting as the mediator between God and us.)

Migrating to Canada

In 1970, I immigrated with my parents to Vancouver, Canada. When I first arrived there, I would still go to church, but only occas­ionally and not every Sunday. Gradually my desire to go to church faded and I stopped attending church.

Before I left Hong Kong, I was in my second year at Lingnan College. But in Vancouver, I failed the English lan­guage test for univ­ersity entrance and was demoted to grade 11. That meant losing three years of education. How could I take the humiliation? Fortunately, I had an elder brother who was studying at a university in Montreal. He strongly sug­gested that I try my luck there. I applied to Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) and surpris­ingly, I was accepted into first year Electrical Engineering. Not only that, I received exemption for some of the courses I had com­pleted at Lingnan College in Hong Kong. However, I still needed to enroll in Beginner’s English. After discussing the matter with my family mem­bers in Vancouver, and get­ting their approval, soon I was Montreal bound.

Becoming an atheist

Before I left Vancouver, my sister gave me a clean and short haircut. Dressed in my best suit, I looked like a nerd! My elder brother and his friends welcomed me in Montreal. We were completely aston­ished by each other’s appearance. They all wore long hair and faded jeans. It was an absolute contrast: my nerdy look versus their hippy style. It was hilarious indeed.

I had just landed in Montreal and was already falling in love with the city. On the drive from the airport, my elder brother said to me, “Do you know that I don’t believe in God anymore?” I was shocked to hear that, and my res­ponse was, “Is that so?” He replied in the affirmative, “Yes, I don’t believe in God anymore! So if you want to go to church, go by yourself. I won’t go with you.” Sensing the deter­mination in his reply, I im­mediately concurred, “In that case, I won’t go either.”

My brother is two years my senior and I had always looked up to him. While he was in Hong Kong, he was ex­tremely pop­ular. He had a band of followers and I was one of his die­hard fans! So if he con­cludes that there is no God, it was not a big deal for me to adopt his views. It was beyond me to raise objections to his views, so I turned my back on religion and be­came an atheist.

My university life

During my three years in university, I completely forsook God. I had a very strong background in mathematics, and when I at­tended the math class, it was too elementary for me. I ended up lying on the bench, snoring my time away. Looking back, I would describe my university life as undiscip­lined, rowdy and rebellious. Our band of friends were all like that—doing nothing and hanging around in pubs, billiard halls and Chinatown. My elder brother was the presi­dent of the universi­ty’s Chinese Student Association. Together we organized lots of parties and other social events. I was also involved in all kinds of gambling, including poker and mahjong. I spent most of my time enjoying pop music with my friends, playing snooker and billiards. I picked up smoking and occasionally smoked hash and grass.

One time I was playing mahjong with my friends, one of whom was a professed Christian. He said, “When I get to hea­ven, I cannot play mahjong with you anymore. What a tragedy for all of you who don’t believe in God. If you believe in God, you will have eternal life. If you don’t believe in God, you will end up in hell.” I immediately jeered at him, saying, “What kind of nonsense is that? If you were in heaven, I would rather avoid going there at all cost!” This so-called Christian often played mahjong with us, gambled with us, and had a mouth full of expletives. He was just as bad as we. So why should I believe what his religion taught?

At that time, I had so much fun with my buddies, so who needs a girlfriend? In fact a girlfriend might be a hindrance to my social life. But thanks be to God, I met Kathleen a year later, and she eventually became my wife. Her elder sister had just be­come a Christian, and she didn’t want Kathleen to go out with me. This elder sister was a volunteer worker at the social welfare services in Chinatown, and she found out that I was always hanging around with the gangs in China­town. She was certain that I would be a bad influence on her sister, but she soon found out that it would be futile to try persuading Kathleen to stop going out with me. So she used another tactic: share the gospel with me. Every time she met me, she would talk about Jesus. I utterly rejected her efforts to influence me, being particularly upset with Christ­ianity on account of my mahjong-playing Christian friend.

A strange encounter in my search for a job

After graduation, I started job hunting. The job market was sat­urated and I had a hard time getting a job in Montreal. My eld­er sister in Vancouver suggested that I try my luck there. So I left Montreal and went back to Vancouver. But I couldn’t find a job there either, and it was already four months since I had graduated. Then all of a sudden I received a call from my elder brother in Montreal telling me that a compan­y was calling me for an interview. I immed­iately flew back to Montreal. Unfor­tunately, I was a day late. A class­mate of mine had gone for the interview the day before, and got the job.

I was devastated about missing the interview. That job could have been mine. I was getting sick and tired of looking for a job. Then Kathleen’s elder sister comforted me and en­couraged me to pray to God, but I didn’t take her advice be­cause I didn’t believe in God, much less that He answers prayers.

I was so desperate to get a job that I tried every trick in the book to prepare myself. I even had mock inter­views with my brother to polish my interview skills. But not­hing worked. Time was slipping away, and soon six months had passed since my graduation. I remained unemployed.

One day I saw a newspaper ad for a design engineer, and immed­iately submitted my application. Kathleen’s sister heard about my application and offered to pray for me. This time, out of sheer des­peration, I went along with it. When I went for the interview, the personnel manager told me that they were actual­ly looking for a mechanical design engineer. I was so upset that I confronted him, say­ing, “The ad in the newspaper only indicated that the job was for a design eng­ineer and now you change the requirement to a mechanical design engineer. What’s going on?” I shifted the blame to them. In actual fact, my outburst only exposed my lack of knowledge and under­standing of the job description. Any experienced electrical engineer would have known that the job was for a mechanical design engineer. How­ever, since the personnel manager wasn’t a technical person, he was very apologetic and offered to call the electrical department to see if there were vacant positions.

God’s way surpasses all understanding, and leaves no ground for man’s pride

The head of the electrical department responded to the personnel manager: “Someone just re­signed and the position is vacant. We haven’t put an ad in the newspapers yet, so you can ask him to come back for an inter­view tomorrow.” I was perplexed and relieved at the same time. When I went to visit Kathleen, her elder sister immed­iately asked me how the interview had gone. I said, “Your prayer led me to the wrong job! However, it just so happened that there is a vacant position in the electrical de­partment, and the manager asked me to go for an interview tomorrow.” She replied excitedly, “Surely that is God’s plan!”

The next morning, I borrowed my brother’s briefcase and went for the interview. While waiting for the manager, I played around with the combination lock of the briefcase. By the time the manager arrived and asked me for my resume, I tried to unlock the case. But to my horror, I was unable to. The manag­er asked me what happened. I gave a blank helpless look, and said I couldn’t open my briefcase. He asked if I had left a resume with the personnel manager the day before, and I im­mediate­ly responded, “Yes!” He called the personnel depart­ment and the resume was sent over immediately. Act­ually, there wasn’t much to show in my resume because I was a fresh graduate with absolutely no related work experience.

After glancing through my resume and asking me a few quick questions, he asked me whether I was interested in the job, and if so, when I could start. I immediately told him that I can start any time. Then he of­fered me the job and asked me to wait for the official letter of employment in the mail.

The next few days I waited nervously for the letter of employ­ment. After a couple of days, the letter arrived, and in­deed I was offered the job! I was dumbfounded by what had hap­pened: First, I applied for the wrong job. Then right in front of the manager, I was unable to open my briefcase. Yet despite all the fumbling, I got the job. If you were in my position, would you not also agree that there was divine intervention? So I asked myself, “Now I believe that there is a God in this uni­verse, but who is He? Could this be the same God that my gam­bling Christian friend believes in?” But I had my reservations.

An incredible experience: God knows the heart of man

During the year 1976, Kathleen’s elder sister would take Kathleen to a Christian fellowship on Saturday evenings. I would accom­pany Kath­leen to the place of the fellowship, and then leave to do my own thing. I refused to attend the Christian fellow­ship. Then one Friday evening, I was alone by myself when I started to pon­der about my relationship with Kathleen. She and I had gone out for four years already, and were both thinking of getting married. But she insisted on a church wedding. Though I had started to accept the existence of God, I wasn’t con­vinced that God was necessarily the Christian God. Even if I were to agree to a church wedding, I would have opted for a Catholic wed­ding because of my Roman Catholic background.

These thoughts led me to wrestle with questions about God: If God is real, what kind of God is He? And where can I go to find Him? At that time, I considered Roman Catholicism and Christianity to be two separate religions from among all the mainstream religions such as Buddhism, Hin­duism, Islam, Taoism, and so on. I was in­clined to choose between Roman Catholicism and Christianity, so I wondered, “Is God the Roman Catholic God or the Christian God?” A voice within me was crying silently, “God, if You exist, show me which religion is true so that I can be­lieve in You.”

The next day I visited Kathleen, and her elder sister told me that there was a special fellowship that even­ing and in­vited me to attend. I rejected her invitation straight­away. But she persisted and said, “This time it’ll be different. They have invited a pastor from England and he is very knowled­geable. He can answer all your questions.” She also prom­ised, “If this Pastor cannot answer your questions, I will never ask you to go to the fellowship again!” It was an offer (or challenge) I couldn’t refuse. So I accepted her invitation and went along to the fellowship.

The place was small but packed with 60 to 70 people. Since we were late, we had to sit at the back. After the singing, the chairperson handed the floor to the guest speaker, and the pastor went forward and started to preach. In front of me was a pillar that blocked my view of the speaker. I was a bit annoyed and agitated that I could only hear his voice. Then some­thing amazing started to unfold. This pastor seemed to be able to read my mind! The message lasted about 45 min­utes, but throughout the message, every time a question came to my mind, he would immediately repeat my question and give a very con­vincing answer. It was simply unbelievable! How could he have known exactly what I had in mind? There were around 60 to 70 people at the meeting; how come he answered only my quest­ions? Could it be that Kathleen’s sister had briefed him about my queries? But even if she had done that, how could he have known the exact flow of my questions and address them in the exact sequence and at the precise moment a question came into my mind? I was completely bewildered. He did ans­wer all my questions convincingly.

Before he ended his preaching, he shared with us about his minis­try in his church and said, “I would certainly wel­come anyone who is interested to come for a visit.” Then suddenly I heard a dis­tinct voice coming from nowhere say­ing to me, “This is the church you should attend.” The pastor was Rev. Eric Chang, and he didn’t know me then. He would later be­come my teacher in the Full-time Ministry Training.

From that time on, I began to go to church again. The next day was Sunday and we planned to visit Rev. Chang’s church. It would be my first time to go to church after years of absence. It was a rainy day, and I hesitated to go because of the heavy rain. I was about to call Kathleen to say I would not go, when sud­denly a voice came from nowhere and cau­tioned me, “This is a tempta­tion from Satan.” That sort of enlightened me and I im­mediately determined to go.

Since that incident, I have been confronted by Satan’s temptat­ions many times. Unpleasant memories of how I used to find liturgy and preach­ing boring when I attended church in the past came flood­ing in: a few minutes of listen­ing to the preaching would knock me off to sleep. There­fore I was very reluctant to go to church. But this time, having dis­tinctly heard the voice of God, I was ready to go to church again.

When we arrived at Rev. Chang’s church that Sunday, I was surprised to hear him preaching in Mandarin with a per­son standing at his side translating the message sentence for sentence into Canto­nese (he preached in English just the day before, at the fellowship). The translation doubled the length of the message to two hours, yet to my surprise I didn’t fall asleep. On the contrary, despite being non-Mandarin speaking, I was so alert that I could even under­stand seventy per cent of his Mandarin. I was fully convinced that God was leading me to a big leap of faith.

A car accident: From bane to blessing

I once borrowed my brother’s car to drive Kathleen, along with her younger sister and her boy­friend, to the McGill University libra­ry. This was during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Some of the Olympics events were held at the McGill University facilities. The traffic was chaotic and lots of people were walking on the streets to the Olympics. I was driving uphill, and couldn’t find a parking space, and ended up parking the car just at the entrance of the side gate. Together with Kathleen’s sis­ter’s boy­friend, we carried the books and dashed off to the library. Kathleen and her sister stayed behind in the car. Minutes later, we were back at the side gate but to our aston­ish­ment, the car was gone. We were wondering where it had gone when—lo and behold!—we saw Kathleen and her younger sister about fifty meters down­hill from us. They were waving to get our attention. Behind them was our car “parked” perpendi­cular to the other parked cars. How could that have happened? We ran to them. When I looked at the way the car was “parked,” I knew it was a miracle. There was a gap between two parked cars that was not long enough to squeeze even a small car in between. But it was the perfect fit for my car—parked per­pendicularly, that is. Kathleen told us what had happened. She was sit­ting in front next to the driver’s seat, with the automatic gearbox in between. As she turned around to talk to her sister, she some­how fiddled with the shift stick of the automatic gearbox, and the car started to roll down­hill. It was a steep and nar­row road. The car started to gain momentum as it rolled backwards. In a panic, and not knowing how to stop the car, she immed­iately leaned side­ways and tried in vain to turn the steering wheel. But the steering wheel locked itself after a few turns. The driverless car ended up rolling downhill in an S-shaped fashion. It went past at least ten parked cars before coming to a halt in the gap between two parked cars, hitting the concrete walls of McGill property and blocking the pedestrian pathway.

As a result, the back of the car sustained substantial damage and I had to pay for the damage done to McGill University’s concrete wall. But it could have been a disaster. It was during the Olympics and the traffic was extremely chaotic. It could have hit the row of parked cars, or the cars driving uphill, or the pedestrians on the crowded pedest­rian path­way. I was convinced that disaster was averted only through divine intervention. Once again, it made me think seriously about God’s reality and His deliverance. As a result of this incident, Kathleen firmly believed in God’s safekeeping. It just so hap­pened that Thanksgiving Sunday was approach­ing, and she committed her life to God through baptism.

Finally, I know Whom I have believed

My elder brother is an expert in philosophy, and was like a teacher to me. Every time I discussed life with him, I would some­how be en­lightened. After my encounter with God, I told him that God is real. He immediately challenged my state­ment and bombarded me with questions. Since I wasn’t fam­iliar with the Bible, I couldn’t handle most of his questions. Gradually, every time we discussed our beliefs, we would end up in a bitter argu­ment.

One evening I was talking to my brother over the phone. A­gain it ended in a shouting match. After the phone call I was deep in thought over his challenging questions. Later that even­ing, I was watching a TV program about some cult members who had mur­dered a famous Hollywood actress and her friends. The cult leader was a self-proclaimed mess­iah. He had long hair and a mustache, and looked like the Jesus of popular culture (I was brought up to believe that Jesus had long hair and a mustache). I was puzzled. Who is Jesus anyway? He said that he was the Messiah and that he will come back again. But this cult leader also claimed to be the messiah. How many messiahs are there? I was so confused.

At that time, I was sharing an apartment with a student. We had two single beds separated by a night table with a lamp on it. That night, I went to bed with lots of unre­solved questions. Then I had a dream…

I entered a museum, right in the middle of which was a big book. It caught my attention and I walked over to take a closer look. To my horror, on it was written, God is dead!” At the bottom of the page was a footnote that said, “If you want to find out more, turn to the next page.” Stunned by what I had just read and wondering whether I should turn to the next page, there was a sudden BANG! Immed­iately I woke up from my dream. The lamp on the night table had some­how mysterious­ly fallen, hitting my head and waking me up. It was in the middle of the night and I was startled by the sudden awak­ening. I sensed that the atmosphere was a bit eerie, so I immediately covered myself from head to toe with my blanket and trem­bled under the cover. Suddenly I felt the presence of a spirit, and then there was something like a video playing out my past. It was like an instant replay of all the things I had done wrong. Incidents that only I knew about were being brought into the light. I was frightened to death and shak­ing like a leaf, understanding for the first time how fearful is a sinner’s situation when he is in front of the Holy God! I tearfully pleaded with Him, “O God! I know I have sinned. I am indebted to You. Please forgive all my sins.” This was a cry from my heart, pleading for God’s mercy and forgive­ness. Amazingly, right after my prayer, I experienced instant relief, and felt a surge of indescribable inner peace that ushered me into quiet seren­ity. I fell sound asleep.

The next morning I got up and went to work. I was still mystified by what had happened the previous night. The fall­ing lamp inter­rupted my dream right at the point where I was pondering whether to flip the page. I was terrified but the in­stant I prayed to God for forgiveness, I felt a deep inner peace. It just boggled my mind. It was simply inexplicable.

When I came home from work and was having dinner with my roommate, I shared with him what had happened. I rea­soned that there must have been something that caused the lamp to fall on my head. I somehow insinuated that he might have caused that to happen. He was bemused but immed­iately denied having anything to do with it. We ended up having an argument. Finally he ran into the bedroom and jumped on­to his bed. He tried to prove to me that even his very deliberate, forceful motion could not affect the lamp. I also joined him, jumping up and down on my bed but the lamp didn’t move an inch. We moved our beds and the night table away from the walls so that nothing touched each other. We reassured one an­other that nothing like that would happen again.

In the middle of the night, while I was sleeping like a log, the lamp hit me again! I woke up only to discover that the lamp was on my head. An inexplicable fear caused me to shiver from inside out. Again I covered myself from head to toe with my blanket but that didn’t stop my whole body from trembling. Finally I cried out in my heart again, “O God! I truly believe in You. From now on, I will never doubt You. Whatever You want me to do, I will follow unreservedly.” After the plea, peace and tranquility suddenly returned and I once again fell sound asleep.

Ever since that time, I know whom I have believed. In my later en­counters with my brother, no matter how chal­lenging a question he posed to me, it could no longer shake my faith in God. If you think that all these things are coincidences, then the odds of believing that all my experiences were coin­cidental are even more astronomical than believing some­thing supernatural had taken place. Take for instance the incident with Rev. Chang. He didn’t know me at all, yet he read my mind like a book and answered all my questions in the order of my thoughts. Bear in mind that I was sitting way at the back at an obscure place, and that a pillar stood between me and Rev. Chang that blocked our view of each other. He didn’t even know I was present. Another example is the car accident: the car simply rolled downhill without a driver. There was nothing anyone could have done to control how the car rolled and swerved. But miraculously, nobody was hurt and none of the cars along the road was hit. As a result, I reck­oned that God is real and in control of every­thing. I started to have a keen interest in the Bible, and as my life began to be transformed, I started to rid myself of my bad habits.

Test of faith

Kathleen and I were married shortly after the renewal of my faith in God. At that time, the province of Quebec was going through polit­ical upheaval. The separatists had won the pro­v­incial elections and were trying to separate Quebec from the rest of Canada. The day after the elections, French became the main language of communica­tion amongst my col­leagues. Since I had only an element­ary standard of French, I was at a dis­advantage when communi­cating at business meetings. Soon the fear of separation from Canada took its toll on the economy in Quebec. Many companies underwent streamlining and moved their headquarters out of Quebec. My company was af­fected too and started to lay off employees. Those who did not speak French bore the brunt and I was amongst the earliest batch given notice to go.

I was hurt and frustrated. I had just come to know God and had been married for only a couple of months. Now I faced the pros­pect of job­lessness. What had happened to my bright future? My wife was a nurse, but how could I expect her to sup­port me? Certainly not! Out of desperation, I turned to God for deliverance. I prayed that through this time of testing I would experience Him more deeply. After the political crisis, French became compulsory for all job seekers in Montreal. I failed every job inter­view because I couldn’t commun­icate fluently in French. It was a hopeless case.

One day I went to a Christian bookstore and saw a plaque with a Bible verse written on it:

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.

I was much encouraged by this verse, so I bought the plaque. I prayed silently, “Lord, despite the fact that I am facing the prospect of being laid off, I long for Your pre­sence and want to experience the reality of Your words. You called us to seek first Your kingdom and Your right­eousness, and every­thing will be added to us. Is that true? I am seeking You, not because I want You to grant me a job, but because I know You will meet my needs.” Instantly I heard a sweet gentle voice that replied, “You will not face even one day without a job.” I knew my prayer was answered and so I believed.

Week after week, I went looking for a job, expecting some­thing to happen. But there was still no job. I prayed to God, “If You give me a job, I will accept it no matter where it is located.” It was about two more weeks before I was to be laid off, and there was still no news. I was in despair. Suddenly there was an inter­view for me in Toronto. Toronto is about five hundred kilometers from Montreal. Kathleen’s two older sisters lived there. I went for the interview on a Friday. Normally the result would be known the following Monday. I earnestly clung to the Lord for His provid­ence.

Apparent fulfillment of the promise

But there was no news the following Monday. I left the office with a heavy heart. Tuesday afternoon, I unexpectedly re­ceived a phone call from the manager who had interviewed me in Toronto. He said, “I am offering you the job.” Wow! I was speechless and happy. Coincid­entally, that day was February 14th, Valentine’s Day. It was also the second day of the Chinese New Year according to the lunar calendar. I found that God has a sense of humor, full of grace and lovingkind­ness. He provided a job for me right on Valentine’s Day, a day that com­memorated love. The manager told me that the personnel man­ager would be working out the de­tails, and get back to me soon. He asked me to be ready to move to Toronto anytime. I im­mediately called my wife to give her the good news and asked her to resign from her job to pave the way for our relocation to Toronto.

Half an hour after I have gotten the job offer from Toronto, I re­ceived a second phone call. It was from a sister company in Montreal, and it called me for a job interview. I was so tempted to accept the inter­view because I would have dearly loved to stay in Montreal. But I had already promised God that where­ver He leads me, I would obey. Since I had already accepted the job offer in Toronto, it would have been wrong of me to go for the interview in Montreal. So I reluctant­ly told the caller, “Thanks for arranging the inter­view, but I just got a job offer in Toronto. If you had called half an hour earlier, I would have loved to come for the interview, but sorry, I cannot come.”

Further test of faith

After a couple of days, I called Toronto to find out when I should start my job there. The manager who hired me was away on a course and my call was transferred to the per­sonnel manager. He said, “Sorry, we haven’t decided to offer you the job yet.” I imme­diately replied, “That’s not right. Your mana­ger called me and offered me the job a couple of days ago, on Tuesday.” But he ex­plained, “I am really sorry. The manager has no author­ity to offer you the job. He can only recommend you. It is our responsibility to finalize the hir­ing. Right now, there are two other candi­dates to be interviewed for the job and so you have only one-third of a chance.” I protested, “I have already asked my wife to resign from her job.” He coldly con­cluded, “Well, that is your problem. You shouldn’t have asked your wife to resign so quickly without hearing from us first.” I didn’t know what to do. I was completely shaken by the sudden turn of events. It was a bitter pill to swallow. I almost yelled out, “O my God! Are You kidding me? How can this be?” Out of desperation, I immediately called the sister com­pany in Mont­real to see if the job there was still available. But it was too late, for they had al­ready hired some­one else.

Friday evening, after attending the church Bible study, I shared my ordeal with my Bible study leader. I asked him why this hap­pened to me and what was God’s real intention. He comforted me by saying, “Perhaps it is a further test of faith. God wants to refine you through this testing.” I replied, “Is that so?” Outwardly I accepted his answer but deep in my heart, I was unsettled. It was easy for him to say what he said, but I was the one who had to go through the trial, and by next Friday I will be laid off. However, I still clung to the Lord with a faith as small as a mustard seed.

When I went to work on Monday, my department manager approached me and asked if I had received the job offer from Toronto (in fact, the company in Toronto was a sister com­pany). I had no good news to tell him. My heart was in turmoil and I was thinking of calling the personnel man­ager in Toronto to ask whether I got the job or not. But I abandoned the idea because I thought that human intervention would be useless. I might as well hold on to God, and if He opens the door, the job would be mine. If He closes the door, no matter how many times I call, I still won’t get the job.

Days passed by, and I still hadn’t called the personnel manager for an answer. Finally, Friday came and that was my last day at work. My colleagues took me out for a farewell lunch. After that, I went back to my office to pack my stuff and bid farewell to my colleagues. It was around 3:00pm. I was making my way around the office with a heavy heart to shake hands with my colleagues. The department manager was about to post the reason for my departure on the bulletin board. He act­ually had two ver­sions of the letter. One was a letter of congratula­tions that said I was being transferred to the sister company in Toronto. The other said that unfort­unately I was laid off due to the company’s reduction of staff.

My phone rang as I was leaving my desk. I picked up the phone think­ing it was from one of my colleagues bidding me farewell. But it wasn’t. It was from the personnel manager in Toronto. He said, “We are offering you a job and you will come on board effective March the first.” That was the following Wed­nes­day. I was speechless. He was waiting for my answer when I faintly replied, “Thanks, I will be there!” I almost burst into tears of joy over God’s deliverance in the nick of time. I im­mediately went over to the department manager and told him the good news. He stared at me and said, “Are you sure?” Then, without waiting for my answer, he went back to his office and called Toronto. Minutes later, he came out all smiles and shook my hand warmly. He confirmed that I had been accepted. Since it was a sister company, he told me that he will extend my pay until I start my work in Toronto. He quickly took out the second version of the letter and posted it on the bulletin board. All my colleagues flocked over and embraced me with joy and laughter. Only minutes ago, I would have been taking the walk of shame, but now I can walk out of the office with some dignity. I made my last call at the office to Kathleen and told her the good news and God’s answer to our prayers. I was over­whelmed by the Lord’s lovingkindness. He had kept His word that I won’t be laid off even for one day. It was the fulfillment of His prom­ise to me. I got the job on the last day of work and I was paid until I began my new job. That was a perfect demon­stration of God’s power and how He is always in control.

That night when we went to the Bible Study, we told Rev. Chang about our leaving for Toronto. He took us aside and prayed for us. Three days later on Monday, we left Montreal and moved to Toronto.

Life in Toronto: God’s blessings abound

Provision of a new home

The new company offered us accommodation for the first month. During that month we had to start looking for our own home. We found out that the rent in Toronto was high­er than in Montreal, yet I received basically the same salary as I did in Mont­real. Another of Kathleen’s siblings sug­gested that we pur­chase a unit instead. But how could I come up such a big sum of money? In fact, I couldn’t even afford to rent a unit. I worked out that the most I could afford was $400 a month. After sur­veying the rental units, we found out that most of them were over $400 a month. I had a friend who was a real estate agent and I asked him for help. At that time, I had worked for over three years. The government encour­aged potential new home­buyers to con­tribute to a housing plan as a means of tax de­duction. Each year I would contribute $1000, and thus far I had put $3000 in the hous­ing plan. After reviewing my finan­cial situation, my real estate friend did his home­work and started to search for a place for me.

The end of the month drew near and we were still desper­ately hunting for a place to settle in. Then one day my real estate friend called us about an apartment. We were very pleased with the unit but were afraid that we couldn’t afford it. My friend worked out the finances and told me, “If the owner is willing to reduce the price by $3,000, coupled with your $3,000 in the housing plan, the total amount, including mort­gage and all manage­ment and maintenance fees, would come up to $396 a month.” When I heard that the amount was under my budget of $400 a month, I immed­iately asked my friend to buy the apartment. Of course the chances of a $3,000 reduction from the sale price were minimal, but it was certainly worth try­ing. We also committed this matter into the Lord’s hand. Surpris­ingly, the owner accepted our offer and we were elated with the answer to our prayers. Again it is a testimony that nothing is imposs­ible with God. We were able to move into this place just at the expiry of our company’s one–month accommodation benefit. Isn’t that amazing?

Provision for my wife’s job

Meanwhile, my wife didn’t have a job in Toronto. She was a fresh graduate in nursing. When we were living in Montreal, she had to work long hours and odd shifts. After we got married, we had to adjust to a “Hello” and “Goodbye” lifestyle because of her shifts. One day she would work from 7:00 pm in the evening to 7:00 am the next morning. Another day she would be working from morning to night. I had envisaged the married life as one in which my wife would at least serve me break­fast, but it ended up with me serving her and cooking for her.

Not long after we had moved to Toronto, Kathleen enrolled in the Nursing Association of Ontario in order to be eligible to work as a nurse in Ontario. When she started to look for a job, I prayed to God, “It would be best if Kathleen could work close to my workplace. Also, please give her a 9-to-5 job so that she won’t have to work odd shifts.” See what a dreamer I was?

One day, as Kathleen was out looking for a job, she was at­tracted to an elegant-looking building and went in to ex­plore it. To her sur­prise, it was a Jewish hospital. She looked at the building’s directory and discovered that there was a doctor with a Chinese name under the Family Practice Unit. She went straight to the Family Practice Unit and was greeted by a Chin­ese nurse. Kathleen told her that she was looking for a nursing job. The Chin­ese nurse asked her to wait, and went away to call the head nurse. When the head nurse saw Kathleen, she welcomed her warmly and talked with her. She was very pleased with Kathleen. When she knew that Kathleen could read, write, and speak Chinese, she beamed with joy and excite­ment. Then she told Kathleen that due to the influx of Chinese refugees from Vietnam and other Asian countries, they were setting up a weekend clinic to reach out to the Asian refugees. In fact it was about to open the coming weekend. They desper­ately needed a Chinese nurse who could read and write Chinese for the out­reach project. The Chinese nurse who worked there was Canad­ian born and couldn’t read or write Chinese. The Chinese doctor who spearheaded the weekend clinic was a Malaysian Chin­ese who also couldn’t read or write Chinese.

She was wondering if Kathleen could help. In fact, just when Kath­leen walked into the office, the unit was having a hard time try­ing to translate some of the medical terms from English to Chinese.

Kathleen immediately volunteered to do the transla­tion. Soon she lost track of time as she threw herself into the work. It was already past 5:00 pm and I was waiting for her call to go home. I received her call at around 5:15 pm only to dis­cover that she was helping out at the Jewish hospital located in the block right next to my office!

The head nurse offered Kathleen a part-time job, working on Friday and Saturday mornings on the Chinese outreach project. It was a good start and a partial answer to my prayer because her work­place was very close to mine.

The head nurse really liked Kathleen because Kathleen was also con­versant in other Chinese dialects. Not long after Kathleen had started her part-time job, the other Chinese nurse gave a one-month notice of her resignation because she was about to be married to her fiancé who was working in the United States. According to union regulations, the job would be posted for inter­nal competition before it is advertised to out­siders. Since this was a 9-to-5 job, it would certainly draw lots of appli­cants. But the head nurse had other ideas in mind. She wanted to offer the job to Kathleen, so she literally tail­ored the entire job description to Kathleen’s experience and language ability, including fluency in Cantonese, Man­darin, and Shanghai­nese. Strangely, the personnel depart­ment made a mis­take in the educational requirements for the post. They advert­ised for a Master’s degree instead of a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. As a result, not one applicant qualified for the job. In the end it was through the head nurse’s recommendation that Kathleen was offered the 9-to-5 job close to my office. Isn’t it amaz­ing? God answered the prayer of a dreamer!

Kathleen worked 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. She relin­quished her part-time post to somebody else. But the more ex­per­ienced nurses at the clinic felt unhappy about her ap­point­ment. Kathleen didn’t want any disharmony with her work­mates so she offered to work the afternoon shift (1:00 pm to 9:00 pm) twice a week, which was still a much better shift than what she had in Mont­real. That settled the unhap­piness among her colleagues and they all worked harmon­iously together.

We may have different experiences to share, but I believe that we are all given the same grace that God bestows in abundant measure to meet our needs. Since we have received so many blessings from God, I have learned that so long as we hold on to our faith, and humble ourselves be­fore God, and are willing to follow Him regardless of the outcome, we will all experience His wonderful grace and unfail­ing love.

From Montreal to Toronto: God’s divine purpose

Why did I eventually decide to serve the Lord? It was because I had come to know the reality of God through various life exper­iences. Before I left Montreal, I told Rev. Chang, “It is so hard to find a good church. I really don’t want to leave.” But he comforted me by saying, “If you remain faithful, God will certainly lead and guide you all the way. He will fulfill His divine purpose in you.” Indeed, God had already begun to unfold His plan for us. Shortly after we had left Montreal, four other couples from our Montreal church were also transferred to Toronto one after an­other because of their work. So we began to meet together every Friday evening for Bible study. This carried on for five years and eventually a sister church in Toronto was born, ful­filling what Rev. Chang had said, that God had His divine pur­pose in our relocation to Toronto.

The attractiveness of the world: Rethinking my commitment to the Lord

After moving to Toronto, we started to establish our careers, and our bank accounts began to grow. At the same time, our hearts were starting to get dull in spiritual things. As I broad­ened my knowledge and life experience, making more friends and widening my social circle, I was very much drawn by the pros­perity of the world, chasing after brand names and living more and more lux­uriously. I discovered that although I had changed a lot and had rid myself of most of my bad habits, in my heart I couldn’t help being lured by the lust of the world.

In 1983, I realized that I had to face a question point­ blank, namely, the question of my regeneration. I may have returned to God in some sense, or have at one time professed to be Roman Catholic, having been baptized at the age of five, yet I discov­ered that I still lacked the power of the Spirit. I tried to solve the problem of why I was powerless to overcome the desires of the flesh. I was still so prone to sinning and so weak against temptation. I finally real­ized that even the most beauti­ful baptism ritual would not guar­antee the bestow­ment of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. A baptized person can still be empty inside. The sacrament of baptism doesn’t guarantee the indwell­ing of the Holy Spirit.

From re-baptism to regeneration

After a long and fierce struggle within my heart, I finally came to the light. In 1983, at our church summer camp, I was re-baptized. I remember viv­idly that as I stepped into the St. Lawrence River for my baptism, the water suddenly became turbulent and the currents were strong. That almost threw me off balance. As I struggled and finally managed to stand before Rev. Chang, he held my hand firmly and calmly said, “Don’t worry! I sense the power of the Holy Spirit surrounding us.” Right after the baptism, the water quieted down and I sensed a deep peace in my heart. My wife and some of her family mem­bers witnessed the baptism. God has showered me with many precious exper­iences. He has done mighty works in my life and answered my prayers. I truly believe that He is the Almighty God on whom I should always focus!

(c) 2021 Christian Disciples Church