I have found true meaning of life and happiness in Jesus Christ. He is the good shepherd and the good shepherd die for me. I would like to briefly share my life story with you.
Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want
I was born in mainland China, raised up in a non-religious home in Hong Kong since 3 years old. I remembered I was lost and found at Shenzhen æ·±å?³ railroad station when I went potty. As a child of an atheist, I did not pay much attention to religious people around me. Yet, I was trouble by a question: where do people go when they die, or where do I go when I die?
I grew up in a family of six ' my younger brother, 2 sisters, and my parents. We live in a very small apartment consists of 1 room with no private kitchen nor bathroom until age 12, the beginning of my secondary schooling. Then we moved to a larger apartment studio of approximately 200 sq. ft. which was a luxury at the time.
Psalm 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters
Life in Hong Kong was very difficult during the 1970's. My parents both worked every day, 7 days a week, from morning to 10:00 pm at night. Except taking a 2-day Chinese New Year holiday, they work 363 out of 365 days in a year. There was no time they can spend with us. I know my parents love me, yet I remembered I felt lonely, not loved, and not happy.
I did not know God and had not heard about Jesus or the Bible. I requested to go to a Christian school in 5-th grade simply because my best friend was going there. The school tuition was expensive (compared to government school which cost nothing) and my parents were not Christians. It was totally God's providence and mercy that my parents agreed to send me there.
God restored me and my grades. My academic was terrible with failing grades in elementary school. It started to improve in 5-th grade at the Christian school. It began to excel in secondary school under the love and nurture and many Christian teachers and the principal Mr. Walls. He was missionary from New Zealand who outreached to young people with the gospel of Jesus Christ through Christian education. My secondary tuition was also financially provided for many years by his home church in New Zealand. A Christmas card signed with names and love from their church is still in my treasure memorial box.
Psalm 23:3a He restores my soul
I heard the gospel message in the Christian School. According to the Bible:
- we are created in the image of God, and are not evolved from monkeys
- we are forever exist even when we die in the most conscience sense
- our forefather Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned, and spiritual and physical death come into the human race (DEMO: cut a plant from its root)
- the consequence of sin is death. We will face God's judgment when we die
- God sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die for sinners as a substitute; Jesus (being sinless) paid the penalty for our sin because we (a sinner) cannot pay
- Jesus Christ suffered, died, resurrected physically from death to demonstrate He is God, and He conquered death (the grave). He rose up to heaven back to the Father God, and will one day come back the second time for us to establish the New Heaven and the New Earth
- Heaven/Hell are real physical places for eternity and we can choose where to go to in this lifetime depending on our acceptance of God's way of salvation through His Son Jesus
- God paid an enormous (the maximal) price of His only Son to save us; God calls us to deny ourselves and take up our cross (comparatively small price) to follow Him
- the consequence of our choice matters in this life (temporal) and the next (eternal)
- the consequence of our decision matters as an individual and with family and friends
My parents initially opposed me attending church fellowship and meetings because they did not understand, and thought religion was a waste of time. They thought all religions were the same (they changed now) ' teach people how to be good and do right. Yet the Bible teaches us differently: all men are sinners and all our good works are filthy clothes in God's sight.
When I graduated from elementary school, the Bible teacher gave me Pslam 23 ' the Lord is my shepherd and I shall not be in want.
My faith continues to grow in the Lord and decided to be baptized in 1975 Easter during my 11-th grade.
I thought I was a Christian at the time simply because I accepted all this in my head and not my heart. I started to read the Bible, pray, sing, and go to church even under strong family oppositions. Little did I understand the true meaning of being a Christian. Although I professed to be a Christian and even thinking I was serving Him, I continue to live my life according to my own desires. I know in my head that He is Lord and called Him one in my mouth; He is not my Lord all the time.
I was still self-centered, not Christ-centered. Yet He loves me and did not forsake me. He has not done with me; and will accomplish what He had started.
Psalm 23:3b He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake
My faith came under testing and revealed its hypocrisy during my undergraduate study in the University of Hong Kong. I ran away from the true God and refused to believe Him. I stopped going to church all together. I doubt His claim that His Son Jesus Christ is the only way to Him. I was in a protest with the living God. I was lost in secular philosophy and humanism. For four years I sank into depression. I lost all motivations to live. I was drunk without wine. I slept more than 12 hours daily for a long period of time. I failed to be faithful, but God's faithfulness did not change.
Eventually I graduated with a low GPA. I hated Mathematics and vowed not to touch any Mathematics again at the time. This again changed later.
God's loving kindness has never changes. He changed my circumstance to give me a second chance after graduation. I was hired as a Mathematics teacher in a Christian secondary school - the last place I wanted to go at the time. My faith was gradually restored in a loving environment with good Christian colleagues and godly principal.
In this school I taught high school Mathematics for 5 years and decided to experience God and life in a different way. He gave me life but I wanted abundant life. So I prayed hard to come abroad to study, God answered my prayers in a wonderful way, beyond and above what I asked for.
In 1986, it was tough to say Good-bye to my parents and 3 siblings. I thought I was going to weep at the airport departure area but I did not. It was a very strange feeling. I was lonely and not lonely. I was single, carrying two big suitcases (all my belongings), and facing lots of uncertainty, yet it was what I asked for so that I can experience God first hand in a practical way, not a theoretical or conceptual way.
My plan was to stay for 1 year to finish a master degree and went back to HK, a land I lived for almost 30 years at the time. God had a better plan for my life.
God's blessings are abundant, personal, and satisfying. I met my wonderful wife Polly from Taiwan in Florida. It was a rough road from friendship to marriage. In the beginning I did not know Mandarin and she did not know Cantonese. The cultures and Hong Kong and Taiwan were quite different. She did not like my half-bold head and 'drop-eye' and I did not like her moody personality (because her father passed away at that time). Yet took God seriously and cherished each other as we followed Him. We deeply trusted that God prepared us for the other. We married in 1988 and established a 'house of faith'. We remained happily married for 22 years now. Over those years we had small arguments, yes, but never had a fight which hurt our relationship. We love because God first love us.
We are blessed with two sons, Ray was born in 1991 at Florida, and David was born in 1993 at Virginia. We set up a Christian home so they can cultivate their own relationship with Jesus and instructed them with the Word of God - the Bible. Nothing is more important than seeing them develop as God wants them to. We are delighted to see them walking in the Light and grow up to be godly man useful in the hands of the Lord. It is our prayer that they have a godly marriage and their children walking in the Light.
I never imagined I could finish my PhD and got a tenure-track faculty position at Virginia State University in 1991. I was unexpectedly lay off early in my career in 1993, the same year Polly was pregnant with our 2-nd son David and my father in HK was seriously ill. He opened a way when there seemed to be no way. We moved to Idaho and joined the faculty at the University of Idaho in 1993, until now. For 17 years, that how old David is now. They are all God's grace.
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me
By God's mercy, in 1993 my father became a believer at his last stage of life. After many years of unbelief, my brother-in-law (who is also a Christian) asked him why do you believe in Jesus now. He said 3 words in Chinese - meaning offending heaven's law.
He was blessed with minimal physical suffering during his last few months fighting cancer. He was also blessed of seeing and holding his first grandson prior to his departure. He is my best father and a beloved husband and is missed much the older I get. Due to family tradition I never say a single time 'I love you' to him, yet I will have my chance to say it many times when I see him again in heaven, YES, indeed I will see him again while he is waiting for me now. This is not superstition, it is written clearly in the Bible.
Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows
God had kept his promise in my family: Trust in the Lord Jesus, you will be saved, you and your household. This includes my parents, 3 siblings and their families, and my own family: Polly, Ray and David.
Your family starts from you, take Him at His word and trust him now while the salvation door is wide open. No one knows how long it is going to stay open! Just like in Noah's days. Enter God' Ark in Jesus today when you could, please do not delay.
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever
(A full version of this document can be found at https://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~stevel/personal.htm)