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3. Preparing to Go into Full Time Ministry Training

Chapter 3

Preparing to Go Into the Full-Time Ministry Training

God is the Potter: He molds 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 I faced was in the area of love, testing whether I loved God or my family more.

Matthew 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.

To me this Bible passage posed the greatest challenge. It is also some­thing that every believer of God has to face.

After my re-baptism, I had a yearning for the word of God, and read the Bible daily. There was also an ongoing eager­ness to go to church. Though I still had lots of weaknesses, God was slowly mold­ing me and renewing my mind.

One day, Kathleen’s younger sister and her two children came to stay with us. In the middle of the night, my 4-year-old niece sudden­ly started to cough, and woke everybody up. I couldn’t go back to sleep, and I really felt for the little girl be­cause she was crying and in obvious 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 immediately stopped cough­ing, and the night re­turned to a complete calm. The instantan­eous answer­ing of pray­er was an awesome experience. I quietly gave thanks to God in utter adoration.

But half an hour later, the one-year-old baby started to cough too. It was getting worse and worse, and he 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 pure coincidence that my prayer was answered? Some­how I felt an inner compulsion 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 things would be worse than before.” Once again, im­mediately, the baby stopped coughing and peace descended upon us. My doubts were swept away and my faith was strengthened. It was definitely not a coincidence!

The call to respond to answered prayer

I was deeply touched by God’s grace and mercy. I felt totally unworthy that God would listen and respond 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 communion 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 three things.” I replied, “Lord, I am wholly Yours. Is there anything that I will withhold from You?”

(1) Pleasing my father-in-law versus making 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, “What? 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. How was I going to tell my family, especially my father-in-law, that I couldn’t play bridge ever again? More­over, I liked playing bridge.

I soon realized that God’s intention wasn’t to give me a hard time. It was a test of whether I love Him more or my family more. At the same time, He was reminding me to make good 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 struggle, I pledged never to play bridge again.

(2) Pleasing my mom in doing the things she liked versus being concerned for her soul

The second thing that God wanted me to give up was mah­jong. I really loved that game. My standing record among our family in Vancouver was a winning streak of 10 weeks. In Toronto, I seldom played mahjong but whenever I visited my mom in Vancouver, she would make time to have a game with me. God was again chall­enging me on whether I loved Him more 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 face my mom because I loved her more.

I was wrestling with God and trying to evade the issue. The inner turmoil was so great that I just couldn’t sleep. Slowly, God revealed to me that I should be a witness to my family. I was born anew and shouldn’t indulge in this kind of game anymore (although we treated it as a game, mahjong is com­monly associated with gambling). He showed me that I should love my Mum with God’s love, and not just please her by doing what­ever she liked. I should be concerned for her salvation and be a good witness to my family. In the end, I gave up strug­gling and made my pledge to never to play mahjong again.

(3) Being a lover of self versus being a living sacrifice

The third thing I had to give up was billiards. God is certain­ly All-Know­ing! He knows the heart of man, and knows exactly how much I loved those games. In fact, among the three, I loved 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 without a fight especially when it is going to be a lifelong ban?

I vividly remember tossing and turning in bed as I pleaded to the Lord not to ban this game for life. Tears flowed but to no avail. I was restless and couldn’t sleep. All of a sudden, God showed me two visions: the first was of Abraham offering his only son, Isaac. The second was of the Lord Jesus nailed on the cross. Then God said, “How can you claim to be totally com­mitted to Me when you can’t even give up such trivia? These are only games. It’s not as if I have asked you to shed your blood for Me or suffer any bodily harm on My account.” At that mo­ment, I realized how shallow my love for God was, and wept bitterly in self-disgust. I cried out to God for for­giveness, and made my pledge never to play billiards again.

Once I made the pledge, I felt immediate relief as the weight of my burdens was lifted from me. I fell asleep in­stantly.

My pledges to God: genuine or just lip-service?

Then came the weekend, and as usual, we had a gathering with Kathleen’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 an exception to the rule. It doesn’t mean that other Christians can’t play. I shared with them about that night’s exper­ience. They were skeptical. I knew it would not be easy for them to accept what I had told them, espec­ially when most of them were Christians. My refusal to play indirectly posed a challenge to their spiritual lives. That was certainly 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 stirred his interest and he started to ask me about my relig­ious beliefs. Soon after that, we started a Bible study at home with the family on the weekend. That was exactly what God had in­tended for us to do, so that salvation may be 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. Coincidentally, we were scheduled to visit my mom in Vancouver that year and I knew I had to face the challenge of honoring my pledge to God. As soon as we landed in Vancou­ver, Mom 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 friends. Kathleen 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 her mahjong friends. I was desperately praying to God for help because I had no more strength to refuse my mom again. Suddenly, I overheard my mom saying that one of her friends could not make it and so the game was cancelled! Oh, what a relief! It was clearly divine intervent­ion. On the 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 mercifully delivered me out of trouble. I passed the test with God’s help. Since then I have never played mahjong.

The deceitfulness of Satan: An enemy from within one’s own ranks

In 1989, we went back to Hong Kong for our theological train­ing. We had an occasion to attend a retreat for all Hong Kong coworkers. We discov­ered that there were a few pool tables in the recreation room. I used to play on standard size billiard tables, and I wouldn’t even cast my eyes on these small pool tables. However some of my coworkers asked me, “Didn’t you know how to play pool? We don’t know how to play but you can teach us!” They didn’t know that I had made my pledge to God. But I also thought that it wouldn’t be a breach of the pledge if I just taught them how to 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 prop­erly, 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 coworkers 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 it go. I con­tinued to play to my heart’s content. That night I just couldn’t sleep. God rebuked me for playing the game. I made an excuse, saying that the small table wasn’t part of the pledge. But He said that whet­her the table was large or small, 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 coworkers to lure me into sin. Certainly, my coworkers 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 coworkers and everyone was in awe at the deceitful­ness of the evil one.

Rooted out the cravings of the heart

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 play billiards using “Chin­ese pool” (康樂棋, the word-for-word translation is “recreational chess,” and was once a popular game in Hong Kong)?” It aroused my interest and I thought play­ing that 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 it fascina­ting indeed. Suddenly I heard a voice sternly rebuking me, “Are you still craving 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. I prayed to God to rid this game from my heart. From then on, I had no more craving for it. Though I would occasionally watch billiard games on TV, my attitude was very different. I would enjoy the game as a spectator without indulg­ing myself in it.

God 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 got rid of bad habits, and He rekindled my desire to serve Him. Actually, I had the heart to serve God all along. Back in 1983 when the third training team started their theo­logical training, God 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 quickly went by, and Rev. Chang announced that the fourth training was open for application. I really wanted to join and I even had a meeting with Rev. Chang to discuss this. But Kathleen wasn’t willing. So I withheld my appli­cation and told her, “I will surely apply for the fifth team. So let us make use of the next two years to prepare ourselves for the Full Time Ministry Training.”

I had already been working for the same company for over six years. Since it was a crown corporation, then according to govern­ment policy, if I worked for 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 at the University of Toronto needed help. I was working at the west end of Tor­onto whereas the Bible study group was in the city center very close to where Kathleen worked. I was thinking that if I could find a job in the city center, I could pick her up and we could attend that Bible study toget­her. At that time, her spirit­ual life was declining and I felt really sad. I had been thinking of ways to encourage her to renew her faith in God.

It just so happened that my company’s fortune took a down­turn. They issued a notice to encourage employ­ees to opt for voluntary separation. They would assess the applica­tions on a case-by-case basis and compensate the suc­cessful applicant with a voluntary separation package. In fact, that was exactly what I was looking for because I could then 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 that in one of the inter­views, the interviewer asked me point blank if I was a Christian. I said “Yes”. Then he asked, “If you are a Christ­ian, do you think God will give you this job?” It was a sharp question indeed. I replied, “If it is God’s will, I will get the job.” But he wanted a more direct answer and 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 God’s will be done.” When it was my turn to ask him questions, I asked him if he was a Christian, and 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 and they had dis­missed one of the team leaders. 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.

A weird dream

I left the interviews with full confidence that I would get the job. 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 back. 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 the dream might mean, 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.” In fact, the salary and the location were very satis­factory. But 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

A few days later, 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 in for an interview?” Seeing that there wasn’t much choice, I agreed to go for yet another interview.

Wow! This position offered even better prospects than the prev­ious one. It was so tempting. First, I would go for an all-expense paid three-month training in South America, liv­ing in a luxury 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, and we will 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 is resting at home. Now she’s panicking and I have to rush home to take care of the whole situation.”

It was funny that a freak accident happened 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 this job is not of God’s will, I won’t get it either. As it turned out, the job was also put on hold because of the com­pany’s poor financial 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 God 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 helpful. Shortly after my call, he referred me to a job interview. The interviewers were very pleased with me because of the referral. But when they put the offer on the table, it was $7000 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 God 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

Wednesday, two days after the interview, was my wife’s birth­day. 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. There was a job located downtown. When I heard the address of the company, I knew it was very close to the Bible study group. I told him that I had already got a job offer. He asked if I had the offer in hand. I told him that I was still waiting for the official letter and that it should arrive any day now. He per­suaded me to go for a job inter­view because he said that so long as there is no legal con­tract in hand, it isn’t binding. He sounded convincing enough and I agreed to go for the interview that afternoon.

As it turned out, the manager really liked me and ex­pressed that he would recommend 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 for this one. He tried to persuade me to 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 told him honestly that I would not con­sider his job offer unless there was a change of condition from the other job offer. He res­pected my decision and was willing to wait for my reply and put the job on hold.

Thursday, the next day, I received the letter of employ­ment from the other company. But to my surprise, they 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 was unsuccessful. 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. When I told him, he immediately re­plied that it was a better company to work for. He was also kind enough to say he would wait for my decision before giving the job to somebody else.

Another challenge of faith: God’s will be done

After that, I called the downtown company to say that I could consider the position he had offered. The manager was happy to hear that, and wanted to set up an interview with the depart­ment manager for the following Monday. How­ever, I told him that I would be away for my church’s summer camp for a week and wouldn’t 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 a real 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 God’s work as first prior­ity. I refused to go to any interview during the time of the church camp. I told both companies that I had to go to the 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.

After the camp, I went downtown for an interview with the department manager. It went 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 could go with me to the group. How perfect was His solution. It reminded me of a Bible pass­age:

Matthew 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 by and the application for the fifth training was approach­ing. I told Kathleen, “I will apply for the fifth train­ing.” She replied, “Good! Go ahead. But let it be clear that I won’t be applying.” After­wards she 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 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 in 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 kms in 16 days. During the trip, God was gracious to us such that we encount­ered many unusual experiences as well as 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 streets of that name. Some­times we thought we were circling around the same city when in fact we were in another town but driving on a street with the same name. Do you know what the name of the street was? It was “Mission Street”. Could it be a coincidence that on the trip from San Diego to San Francisco, somehow and somewhere along the journey, we ended up on Mission Street? I asked Kathleen, “Do you think that God is leading us to see that for the rest of our lives, we will be serving as missionaries?” Kathleen 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 had together. Kathleen said, “This will be our last trip together. From now on, you go to serve God and I go my own way.” It was as if a sword had pierced right into 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 interview the fifth Full Time Ministry Training applicants. When it was my turn, I knew that he would ask me about Kathleen. Indeed, during the interview, he asked, “If you are accepted in the fifth training which will be conducted in Hong Kong, what will hap­pen to Kathleen?” I said, “She will stay in Toronto and I will go to Hong Kong.” He asked, “But wouldn’t it be a strain on your mar­riage?” I said, “I really don’t know.” Actually, I didn’t want to think about it. We discussed this matter for a while, and finally Rev. Chang said, “Alright, I will accept your application for the fifth training.”

Mixed emotions: Entering into the fiercest spiritual battle of my life

On my way back after the interview, I had mixed emotions about 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 had rejected my application instead. However, my worst nightmare had materialized: I might have to part with Kathleen in choos­ing to serve God. The real and fierce spirit­ual battle had begun.

When I got home, neither of us said a word. After dinner, I finally summoned all my courage to tell Kathleen that I was ac­cepted. She 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 for help to overcome 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, but triumph comes through earnest prayer

Following the fifth training interview, there was a joint sum­mer camp held by the Montreal and Toronto churches. The camp theme was based on Luke 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. But this time, 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, Kathleen would very likely stay with her mom and not join the camp. But thanks to earnest prayer support from the church brothers and sisters, she finally decided to attend. I knew that God was behind her change of mind which paved the way for a miraculous deliv­erance.

The four-day camp was the miraculous turning point in Kath­leen’s life. Before we went to the camp, I earnestly prayed to God that He would lead three persons to talk to her voluntarily without my deliberate invitation. I saw it as human intervention if I were to ask them to talk to Kathleen. 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 I waited for His deliverance.

One of the three persons I had in mind was Rev. Chang’s wife. One time she just happened to sit next to me. I was so ner­vous and really wanted to beg her to talk to Kathleen. I couldn’t sit still. My heart was struggling over whether I should seize this golden opport­unity to seek help from Rev. Chang’s wife. I was emotional but I prayed earnestly to God to grant me silence and full trust in Him.

But God worked amazing things. I witnessed the three per­sons talking to Kathleen on separate occasions without inter­vention on my part. I mar­veled at God’s doing. On 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 Kathleen and that Kathleen 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 her to God in prayer.

Amazing grace: Kathleen changed her mind

On the way out of the camp, we didn’t talk much and I didn’t know if my prayer had been answered. It seemed that both of us were deep in thought. It was like an invisible cloak of fear that was op­pressing 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, which was what I feared most. The camp could be the last chance for Kathleen to change her mind.

The next day after work, Kathleen suddenly suggested to 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 Kathleen’s intention to join the fifth training. He said to her, “I don’t know what reason I have to accept you. There are over 40 or 50 applicants and I have rejected almost half of them. Among those who were rejected were lay lead­ers serving in the church. But you haven’t been actively ser­ving for the past two years and you didn’t even at­tend Bible studies regularly.” Kathleen replied, “I know I have wasted my last two 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 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 Kathleen hadn’t been accepted yet. They opposed my decision to go for the Full Time Ministry Training and constantly applied pressure on us. I really had to cling to God for strength and to wait for His deliver­ance.

I had to book my air ticket to Hong Kong by early Decem­ber 1988 if I were to arrive in time for the training. Unfortun­ately, the result of Kathleen’s application was still uncertain. She 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.”

Heartbreaking separation or perfect union?

On Sunday, December 1, the long wait ended. After the ser­vice, our pastor approached me and said, “Rev. Chang called me from Hong Kong. He has accepted Kathleen into the train­ing!” Wow! I was com­pletely overwhelmed. The heaviest bur­den in my heart was suddenly lifted. I was filled with inexpress­ible joy and thanksgiving to God. Now the vision was clear: God has put the last piece of the jigsaw puz­zle in place, 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. But now, through the grace and mercy of our God, He holds our hands and renews us with a perfect union of heart; together we launched 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, by His unfa­thomable grace. So at 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 our living God

I very much desire to be a vessel that brings glory to God and faith­fully abides in His will. I will accept His molding into any shape or form under any circumstance if only I could bring Him honor and glory. Whatever severe test awaits me, I plead to God that I may 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. In fact, there are always chall­enges 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 the book of Samuel:

1 Samuel 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 lovingkindness.

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 so, God will surely deliver us.

(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church