Guided by God’s Hand
Testimony By Siah Chin Luan – Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
A BUDDHIST UPBRINGING
I came from a big family with strong traditional Chinese Buddhist beliefs. As a child I had no exposure to Christianity.
During Chinese New Year celebrations and other traditional festivals, the elders in my family were always busy preparing food and joss paper as offerings to our ancestors, and praying that these ancestors would bless us with peace and prosperity. Worshipping in such a manner was therefore a habit that I acquired from a young age. I believed eating food that had been offered would bring peace; whether or not it had any basis in reality, this became a deeply ingrained concept in my life.
When I was ten, my maternal grandmother and my aunt became members of the Tian Dao religion. Grandma believed it was a faith that could lead men to heaven and obtain the truth. Under their influence, we also gradually became followers of that faith.
After completing high school I enrolled in an English language class, where I met Brother Yong Choon Min, now my husband. Although we became friends, I did not know he was a Christian because he never talked about Christianity or his own beliefs. He was what could be described as a lost lamb. During one of our conversations, when I mentioned that I was a member of the Tian Dao, he said, “Your type of faith is false.” I was insulted and started to debate with him. He was unable to win me over, possibly because he had a shallow knowledge of the truth. We often quarreled because of our different faiths.
UNINTERESTED IN SERMONS
One day, Brother Yong saw an advertisement of a college that offered a double degree twinning course in business administration and marketing. After two years of studies in Malaysia, we would complete our degrees with a final year overseas. We decided to register and continue our education. Shortly after we started our program, Brother Yong and I were having lunch when Brother Liau, who was enrolled in the same program, joined us and started to preach to us. It was during our conversation that we discovered that they both belonged to the True Jesus Church. From that time on, Brother Liau often encouraged us to attend church services in order to find out more about the truth.
Thank God, Brother Yong was brought back to the Lord’s fold through his encouragement. My first encounter with the True Jesus Church was in Kota Kinabalu. I was shocked by the way the members prayed; it was loud and very extraordinary. I thought of leaving immediately, but out of respect for those who were praying I stayed at my seat.
However, other than my shock at the prayer I was rather indifferent to the whole experience. I didn’t think that Christianity was special because I had been taught in Tian Dao that even though there were different religions, they all originated from the same place. After that initial visit to church, Brother Yong brought me to service every Sabbath day. However, I only attended out of courtesy towards him, so I always hoped for the service to end quickly.
I was not interested in Christianity, so it didn’t matter that I couldn’t understand what they preached. Brother Liau would sometimes take the opportunity to explain the doctrines to me when we studied together. But I would try and make things difficult for him with many questions. I believed that every person could have his own faith because all religions persuade men to do good; the only difference is the method of worship.
GUIDED BY GOD’S HAND
I attended services weekly at True Jesus Church to avoid arguments with Brother Yong, but I continued to teach children at a temple on Sundays. One Sunday, after the lessons were over, Brother Yong came to take me home. During the ride he said that he had to pick up his aunt and send her to the True Jesus Church in Penampang to attend the spiritual assembly being held there. He invited me to join them and encouraged me to pray for the Holy Spirit.
I decided that I would take the opportunity to pray and see if the God that I was praying to in this church was the God that I worshipped. I had been taught in Tian Dao that there was only one God, and through my conversations with Brother Liau my curiosity had grown as to who this Christian God was.
When the preacher invited those who wished to pray for the Holy Spirit to go to the front to pray, I stepped forward. While I was praying, I suddenly felt that I was burdened with sins and I asked the Lord to forgive all my transgressions. I already believed in the last day and in eternal life through Tian Dao and I asked the Lord to save me. My body started to shake involuntarily and tears fell uncontrollably. I was astonished. Why was I weeping when I was not sad? Why was my body shaking? I stopped praying and the tears and shaking stopped. When I resumed praying, tears again fell involuntarily and I felt a gentle and comforting warmth flow through my body.
While I was trying to understand what was going on, doubt started to creep into my mind. I heard a voice say, “What are you doing? Go back to your own religion.” Once the idea entered my head the warm feeling left me. After a short time, the prayer ended. I returned to my seat and wept continuously. Later, I was told that I had been moved by the Holy Spirit during the prayer, but I didn’t really understand. When I returned home, I related the whole event in detail to my mother; both of us were astonished by what I had experienced. Neither of us knew the truth that was preached at True Jesus Church and we had never consciously sought to understand it. Due to my mother’s belief in Tian Dao, she asked me to stop going to church. However, I continued to go to church on Saturdays and the temple on Sundays.
TWO STRANGE DREAMS
Thanks to the grace of God, I started the final year of my university studies in London, along with Brother Yong and Brother Liau. Through God’s love and mercy, I received loans that paid for my tuition and found a part-time job that paid for my living expenses. I continued to attend services at the True Jesus Church in London with Brother Yong and Brother Liau, and stopped going to the temple. Every week, we would stay at church over the weekend before returning to the university.
One Saturday night in December, I had a dream. In my dream I was in a temple, where there was a huge idol of Buddha. It was dim and filled with smoke, and I stood near the entrance. Suddenly, a mosquito flew past me and settled by the idol’s ear, seemingly berating me for attending the True Jesus Church. The Buddha’s smiling face turned to fierce anger, its body grew bigger and bigger, and it came towards me so fast that it seemed to be flying. I could see it trying to grab me. As it got closer and was about to capture me, I clasped my hands and cried out, “Hallelujah! In the name of the Lord Jesus!”
I woke up even before I finished saying the rest of the sentence. I was so terrified of what I had just experienced in the dream that I prayed silently underneath the covers. However, when I woke up the next day I put the dream aside and treated it as only a nightmare.
A week later, London Church held a week-long evangelism training camp. One night during the camp, as I was sleeping in a room with a few other sisters, I had another dream. In the dream, I saw a high wall. It was very dark and I could not see my fingers when I stretched out my hands. A shadowy figure, with a long beard and dressed all in black, slowly floated out of the wall. Suddenly a voice sounded from the figure, “I am God.” God? Does God look like that? Why is he dressed in black? I wanted to pray but I was unable to cry out “Hallelujah.” I tried to wake up from the dream, but I couldn’t. After a great struggle, I suddenly heard a loud bang, like two cars crashing into each other at high speed on the road outside the chapel. I was awakened by the noise and prayed for some time before falling asleep again.
The next morning, I asked the other sisters sharing the room with me whether they had heard the loud bang the previous night. They had not. If the loud noise I heard had been caused by a car accident, how could they not have heard it as well? I then related my dream to Brother Yong. After I finished, he asked me whether I still had any idols or charms in my handbag. It was only then that I fully understood that this dream and the one I had a week earlier were trying to make me stop going to church. Instead of having that effect on me, however, they showed me which religion I should follow. I related the two dreams to the deacons and gave them all of the charms and idols I had, which they destroyed in the name of Jesus.
RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
Seeing Brother Yong receive the Holy Spirit during the evangelism training camp spurred me to seriously seek after the Holy Spirit myself. That night, I prayed to God, “O Lord, You are the Lord of heaven and earth. Please let me once again experience the movement of the Holy Spirit. If it is Your will to give me the Holy Spirit, please let me feel Your existence again!” For three consecutive days I prayed fervently to God in this manner. I also asked God to forgive my sins. During one prayer, I was suddenly reminded of my poor attitude towards my father and I felt deep remorse. If I could not respect my earthly father, how could I respect the heavenly Father?
I prayed even more fervently for God’s forgiveness. Then I felt a warm current flowing from my head to the rest of my body, as if the Lord Jesus was gently comforting me. I immediately felt my stony heart dissolve and become a warm one, made of flesh. I started to speak in tongues, my body was vibrating and I knew I had received the Holy Spirit. The joy I felt was indescribable.
BAPTIZED INTO THE LORD
After receiving the Holy Spirit, I wanted to receive water baptism. But because my family members were followers of a different religion, I was afraid that they would object when I told them of my plans. On learning of my predicament, a brother urged me to pray to God about it. Thank the Lord, when I told my dad of my intention to be baptized, he did not object.
On February 8, 1998, ten people gathered at the baptismal site, where I was the only person to be baptized. The sky was cloudy and it was unbearably cold with icy winds blowing fiercely. We asked the preacher whether the baptism ought to be postponed but he answered, “Pray to God with faith.” When we opened our hymnbooks to sing, the clouds on the horizon parted and the sun shone upon us. We were very moved by the sight and knew that the Lord was truly with us. In my mind I kept thinking, I am so insignificant, yet God has allowed me to receive this great salvation grace for which I am most unworthy. Tears fell as I felt the Lord’s love touch my heart deeply.
I walked into the water, knelt, and bowed my head for the baptism. The moment I was immersed in the water, I felt as if all of my burdens were lifted. I am so thankful to God for His wonderful guidance. Because of His love and mercy, He chose someone as insignificant as me to be His child. Throughout my life, even before I believed, God’s gracious hand has been with me, guiding me all the way. His love has touched my heart so that I am able to deeply experience the true and living God working in my life. How long, wide, high, and deep is the Lord’s love? It is indeed without limits. He not only loves me, His love also covers my family. After my baptism my parents also came to believe and received baptism. To me, this is an added grace from the Lord.
May the grace and care of the Lord be with me throughout my life, so that I can continue in my heavenly journey, holding on to His hand.