Journey to the Truth: A Chronicle of God’s Abundant Grace and Love.
Testimony By Li Gai Gai—Xiamen, China. Abridged from a testimony first published on the website www.tjccn.com
Sister Li Gai Gai was one of the theological students from the government-sanctioned Nanjing Union Theological Seminary who changed their church affiliation to the True Jesus Church while they were studying at the seminary in the 1990s. Here, she relates her journey to the truth.
FAITH NURTURED FROM YOUNG
I was born in 1971 into a Christian family who valued and emphasized religious education. Grandmother taught my siblings and me to sing hymns, read us Bible stories and prayed with us. Since we lived far away from a church, our house became a worship center for the family and believers who lived nearby. Through my grandmother’s guidance, my participation in the gatherings, and personal reading of the Bible and other Christian literature, I built a strong Christian faith, culminating in a desire to dedicate my life to the Lord’s service. During my junior high school years, Grandmother prayed often for me, beseeching the Lord to choose me as His vessel. Thus, when I was admitted to the government-sanctioned Nanjing Union Theological Seminary in 1991, I saw that as God’s grace and plan for my life.
NANJING: INTRODUCTION TO TONGUES-SPEAKING
During my first year in the seminary, a dormitory mate from Northeast China and I went to the seminary’s devotional room to pray. As we prayed, I heard my friend articulating unintelligible sounds; I could not understand a single word! Afterwards, she told me she was speaking in tongues, but when I curiously asked her how to do it, she did not tell me.
In 1992, my second year at the seminary, I discovered that one of my classmates, Ji Hong Mei, had visited the Sanshan True Jesus Church in Fuqing, a city in China’s Fujian province. Realizing that the teachings of the True Jesus Church (TJC) were the biblical truth, she had subsequently gone on to accept baptism in living water and become a TJC member. Hong Mei and I were often together. She would share TJC doctrines with me, but I rejected them, heatedly debating with her. Whenever she talked about TJC’s five doctrines, I would try to refute them one by one.
As our winter break drew near, Hong Mei invited me to join her and several other college mates on a trip to the Sanshan TJC. Eager to find out more about TJC, I agreed. So during the winter break, ten people—my classmates, two other Christians from a Nanjing Christian worship point and I—traveled south to Fuqing.
FUQING: PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF THE SANSHAN TJC
After dinner on the day of our arrival at Sanshan, most of us went back to our rooms to sleep. However, one of my classmates, Liu Yao Yao, went to the second floor of the hall to pray as he was suffering from a cold. Unexpectedly, he received the Holy Spirit and started to speak in tongues! When I heard about this, I muttered to myself: “How could Liu Yao Yao be so weak? He has just arrived at Sanshan. Without completing his due diligence to debate with TJC on their doctrines, he has been pulled over so easily!”
On the following day, Elder Wang Qin Ru studied the Bible with us. Although he provided supporting biblical evidence for each of the TJC’s five essential doctrines and answered all our questions, I felt unconvinced by some of his answers. In between our Bible study sessions, we had sessions to pray for the Holy Spirit. We were taught to clasp our hands, begin our prayer in the holy name of the Lord Jesus, and then say “Hallelujah.” When the prayer started, I stole a glance and to my surprise, the TJC members were articulating unintelligible sounds as their bodies and hands shook. I found their movements quite awkward. When Elder Wang came to lay hands on me, I quickly closed my eyes and pretended to pray earnestly. But I was actually not concentrating and hence, had no special experience when Elder Wang laid hands on me.
Over the many sessions of prayer for the Holy Spirit in the next few days, all my classmates either received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, or had been moved by the Holy Spirit. I was the only one who did not feel anything at all. As our visit neared its end, those who had received the Holy Spirit requested water baptism. Elder Wang then scheduled their baptism for the twenty-eighth day of the twelfth lunar month 1992. When I was asked whether I wanted to be baptized too, I replied that I would not accept baptism until the issue of the Holy Spirit was resolved.
RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
The days of searching through the Scriptures and praying for the Holy Spirit had reduced my psychological rejection of the true church, but…
I was still in a dilemma: the truth held by TJC was good, but I believed that my former faith was not wrong! Several of my classmates had already received the Holy Spirit, so how could I continue to doubt TJC? There was only one way—I knelt and beseeched God to allow me to receive the Holy Spirit if the beliefs of the true church were correct.
I also told Him, “Dear Lord, if I do not have the Holy Spirit, please grant me the Holy Spirit; if I already have the Holy Spirit, then please lead me more clearly to serve You.”
My classmates who had accepted the truth of the true church and received the Holy Spirit were also interceding for me. One of them, Lin Fang, would always kneel beside me and occasionally pause in his prayer to listen to my prayer, hoping to hear that I had received the Holy Spirit. However, though I was kneeling, I was not fully focused on my prayer.
The turning point was the eve of the water baptism. On that evening, I gathered with a few believers who had not received the Holy Spirit to pray. I prayed very earnestly, telling the Lord, “If I receive the Holy Spirit tonight, I shall request to be baptized tomorrow.” That particular prayer was a long one, comprising six prayer sessions of more than half an hour each, so it ended at about 2 a.m. the next day. After the fourth session, everyone, except myself and another lady, had received the Holy Spirit or had been moved by the Holy Spirit. Then, during the fifth prayer session where everyone was interceding for me, my arms began to tingle from the wrist to the elbow and soon began to shake on their own accord. Terrified, I clasped my hands tightly in order to prevent the vigorous movement, but to no avail. I had been uttering “Hallelujah” but then my tongue began to roll, and I was making sounds similar to someone who had received the Holy Spirit. Lin Fang, who was kneeling beside me, heard me speak in tongues and shouted excitedly, “She’s got it, she’s got it!” Elder Wang then ended the prayer. Everyone rejoiced to see that the most stubborn skeptic had received the Holy Spirit! During the sixth prayer session, I was truly filled with the Holy Spirit. Joyful and at peace, I decided to accept water baptism the following day.
RECEIVING WATER BAPTISM
The next day—the twenty-eighth day of the twelfth lunar month—Elder Wang, my classmates and I as well as a dozen other believers drove to Gaoshan town seaside. The weather was cold and the winds gusty. Seeing our group of young people that included several thin and fragile-looking ladies willing to brave the cold weather to receive water baptism, the local TJC members gave praise to God. God took good care of us because not a single one of us caught a cold although we were completely immersed in the chilly water.
After baptism, we spent about ten days visiting several other True Jesus Churches in the province of Fujian. These visits left me with the general impression of a vibrant church—the brethren loved God and one another, were spiritually strong, and fervent in prayer. In addition, the TJC congregations had so many young believers including children who participated enthusiastically in church activities.
NANJING: ESTABLISHING THE NANJING TJC
On our return to Nanjing, the group of us who had visited Fuqing immediately changed our church affiliation to True Jesus Church, triggering a storm in the seminary. As the college enrolment was slightly more than a hundred, our group of around ten actually accounted for nearly ten percent of the community, and we also had a certain amount of influence in the college. Nervous about this development, the college administrators organized many lectures, addressing topics such as sectarian issues, the Holy Spirit, and speaking in tongues. The lecturers were also actively initiating conversations with us. As Nanjing Union Theological Seminary was known as a Christian human resource base, any sign of trouble would immediately attract the attention of the China Christian Council (CCC) and the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China (TSPM), the two Chinese government sanctioned Protestant organizations. Our conversion to TJC was soon reported in the Chinese Protestant Churches’ flagship magazine “Tian Feng,” and subsequent issues discussed topics related to the Holy Spirit and tongues-speaking.
However, this external pressure actually drew us even closer, and we made it a point to meet at the seminary’s chapel every Wednesday at 9 p.m. to pray together to beseech the Lord to increase our faith and strengthen our belief. We also made a concerted effort not to partake of the Holy Communion at the seminary and not to attend the Sunday services, but to keep the Sabbath instead. With God’s guidance and protection, and seeing our determination and unity, the seminary did not take any action against us. Our fellow students were sympathetic towards us; they understood and respected our decision to change. In fact, some were even interested in finding out more about TJC from us.
Mdm Luo Xiao Xia was a Christian in charge of one of the Nanjing worship centers. She had visited the Fujian TJC churches together with us. After she received the truth, she immediately preached to all the believers at this worship center. Their conversion to TJC marked the beginning of the Nanjing TJC. Every week our group of theological students would take turns to deliver sermons to this congregation.
XIAMEN: ASSIGNED TO WORK
In my fourth year at the seminary, I changed rooms. One of my new roommates was Kou Ke Hua who had also converted to TJC. One day, while chatting about our postgraduation plans, Ke Hua remarked that it would be great if we could both work for the True Jesus Church. I was considering returning to Hebei, but there was no TJC there. On enquiry, however, it turned out that Xiamen TJC did indeed need a preacher. I prayed to God for guidance before I decided. By His will, everything went smoothly, and I arrived in Xiamen TJC in October 1995. Later, God also led Ke Hua to work in Xiamen TJC.
HEBEI: GUIDING HOMETOWN FOLKS TO THE TRUTH
After serving nearly two years in the ministry of Xiamen TJC, I felt the need to preach TJC, the ark of the last days, to my family and the others who attended the worship center at my home. Due to my earlier lack of knowledge and understanding regarding the true church, I had only shared the truth that TJC preached with my father and prayed with him to receive the Holy Spirit; I had not emphasized the need for him to be converted to TJC. With this thought of converting all who attended my home church to TJC, I began to fast and pray every morning, asking God to open the way and help me achieve that.
One month later, in April, I returned to my hometown in Hebei province to visit family and relatives. Requested to deliver a sermon on the first Sunday morning, I talked about the Sabbath, recounting how, historically, the Catholic Church had changed the observance of Sabbath day to Sunday. Hearing this, the Christians gathering at my home church immediately decided to observe the Sabbath from the following week.
In the afternoon, I expounded on the Holy Spirit, and explained the relationship between the Holy Spirit and salvation as well as the signs and evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit. After this sharing, we had a session to pray for the Holy Spirit. I prayed, “Dear Lord, please allow at least one person to receive the Holy Spirit today as a sign that the True Jesus Church that you have established is indeed the true church, so that everyone can believe and obey.” That afternoon, a total of five ladies received the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues!
My mother was the first to receive the Holy Spirit.
Over the next few Sabbath services, I went on to explain the truth of salvation concerning water baptism, Holy Communion, foot washing, etc. After listening to these doctrines, about twenty to thirty people immediately voiced their desire to receive water baptism in the true church. After I contacted Preacher Chen Jianlin, he and Deacon Chen Huai Zhong (from Zhangpu Church) took the long journey to our Handan Town Mining District in Hebei Province to baptize these truth seekers.
We truly enjoyed the Lord’s miraculous guidance, even in the smallest matter! For example, I had given instructions to purchase fifty cups for use in the post-baptism Holy Communion service, since about forty people were getting baptized. However, at the shop, the owner found he had just two additional cups left in the store after our purchase, so he gave these to us for free. Little did we expect that when we conducted the Holy Communion that day, exactly fifty-two partook of the bread and cup! God is indeed the omniscient and loving Father, even preparing the exact number of cups for us!
PROCLAIMING GOD’S POWER AND LOVE
Similarly, during the baptism sacrament, there was clear evidence of God’s mighty hand. Even though more than half of those who received baptism were elderly, none of them caught a cold. A seriously-ill elderly couple was among the baptismal candidates. Although they normally had great difficulty moving around, this couple came up from the water, relaxed and happy.
In addition, when an elderly lady entered the water to be baptized, Deacon Chen and my father (who was assisting the deacon) detected a fragrance, totally unlike man-made perfume. When the elderly lady was later asked whether she had been using perfume, she said: “At this age, why would I still be using such things?” We concluded then that this was the Lord’s doing—providing the fragrant aroma as sign that the baptism was consistent with His will and manifesting His abidance.
Later that year, in November, Preacher Lin Fang, Preacher Wang Hongli and I conducted a two-day spiritual convocation in Hebei. After the spiritual convocation, eight men and women asked to be baptized. Several of them were very old, with one of them being over seventy years old. The end of the year was a period that was usually cold in Northern China; but that year the weather was colder than normal. To test their faith, I asked whether they were worried about catching a cold. Their simple answer—“We have confidence that God will protect us and keep us from the cold”—moved me immensely. Indeed, by God’s wonderful grace, despite the cold weather, none of them caught a cold. Among them was an old sister who, for the past twenty years, could only lie on her side in bed; after baptism, she could sleep normally and lie on her back. Another sister had severe heart disease, but the full immersion did not affect her at all, and she came up out of the water joyfully.
After the spiritual convocation, the believers grew in their faith in the true church and in their love for the Lord. Today, TJC in the Hebei region continues to flourish by God’s grace. Amen.