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Testimony: "For I Have Tasted the Grace of God"

Testimony: "For I Have Tasted the Grace of God"

Two men walk on an empty road. Two men walk on an empty road.
ByJeremiah Li June 15, 2021
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If I had not tasted His grace, I could really stubbornly deny and refuse God. However, I have been following the Lord for 13 years now and He has been so faithful at every moment.

I am from a village in Fujian. Back then, in my area, there were so many Buddhists and hardly any atheist. On every first and fifteenth day of the lunar month, all local households would set up a worshiping table in front of their doors, kowtowing and burning underworld money. I was a stubborn person, and when I grew a little older, I refused to practice the local custom. Sometimes my grandmother could not stand my choice. Maybe she was afraid I would offend something superior so she would simply press my head down to indicate to me to bow down. I would lower my head a bit following her pressing force as if paying my respect. I did that was because I did not want to embarrass her. I had believed in atheism since I was a child, holding that it was the irrefutable truth.

When I was a junior at my college, my girlfriend at that time attended church gatherings two or three times a week. Whenever she told me that she was going to "a gathering", I pretended that I was not upset by saying "Go and have fun", but I was absolutely bitter. Once I could not help but ask her what ‘party’ she attended. She said that I would know if I came. So I went and to my surprise, I met a group of people who seriously believed in their religion in such a modern age! Not just that, it was an overseas religion - Christianity! What was even more shocking was that their meeting place was a teacher's apartment - the very same teacher who taught me in my sophomore year.

Out of respect to my girlfriend and teacher, I sat through a Bible study session although I was a stubborn atheist (Yes, the form and content of their gathering were to sit around, read and explain the Bible). Yet I was impressed in the end. I found that although this group of people were "ignorant", getting along with them was really warm. To me, they were just a group of good people who lacked rationality. However, this group of good people gave me a good "torture".

Being in contact with such a group made me feel like I was encountering a crisis of my worldview. I knew very well that if they were right, then I had been wrong, terribly wrong. So my whole atheistic worldview would collapse and be rebuilt. My pride did not allow that to happen. Moreover, I was afraid of that happening. A few weeks later, I began to do my preparation before the Bible study by trying to find and use "contradictions" in the Bible to give this bunch of believers a lesson. I did not hide my anti-religious attitude during the sessions and I did not spare words when attacking the faith.

However, the actual results made me feel defeated because this group of people I met could not be explained by my twenty-something years of life experience - whenever I thought they were badly challenged by my well-made rebuttals, it was not a win-lose outcome as expected. No, they only locked their eyebrows for a brief moment as they silently gave my challenge a thought. Soon after, they would smile to accept the challenge.

"How can you not be angry?", I desperately screamed in my mind. They were well-designed challenging questions. Even a few angry reactive comments would have been worth my great efforts. However, their tolerance and smile made me feel badly defeated. They were truly different!

In this way, I attended fellowship gatherings for a full semester. I was even keener than my girlfriend. Except for prayer meetings, I attended them all including Sunday services. It was a little hard for me to attend Sunday services. Our college was in the suburbs and the Sunday service venue was a pastor’s house in the city proper. I usually got up at 9 o'clock. I had to get up at 7 o'clock on Sundays at the latest, otherwise, I would be late. Sundays have been my earliest day ever since.

One thing happened during this period of time, which remarkably shook my atheistic belief. In the Christmas of 2007, my church held a holy birth thanksgiving service. A teacher with intellectual background from Xiamen was invited to deliver the sermon. I did not know why I could not stop thinking about every word he said, all while hating what he said. After being mentally tormented for about half an hour, I left the service early. A staff member at the door tried to hand me a bag of gifts. I rudely pushed the outstretched hand away and ran back to my school.

After about two days, I was still entangled in that kind of torment. Finally, I picked up a booklet titled "Knowing the Truth", which was given to me by a Christian friend. He had been zealous to persuade me to believe in Jesus. At lunchtime, I went to the Business School building to read it alone. The reading gave me a shudder. In my opinion, it was nonsense. However, I could faintly sense a calling deep in my heart: I could neither see nor hear it, but it made me want to draw close to the calling.

After this, I began to be less hostile to Christianity. I attended gatherings for a while in the following semester and I gradually came up with the idea of becoming a "cultured Christian". It was a term I came across when I was preparing for a Bible study. I only knew that the Hong Kong Church made accusations against Liu Xiaofeng and others. However, this term appealed to me.

Since I was a child, I thought of myself as a Confucianist, loving ancient literature and often immersed in the world of poetry. Although I had never seriously studied Confucian classics, it did not hinder my yearning for Confucianism. However, the embarrassment of Confucianism depicted by history education in the past 100 years made me anxious about it. Nowadays, "cultured Christians" are just like good medicines to cure the disadvantages of Confucianism. In my superficial knowledge at that time, it would be wonderful if love and equality became the core theories of Confucianism, and Confucianism was supplemented by "Jesus". As for God, forget it. Some Christian theories are desirable, but God was not needed. In this way, it was really beautiful to be a "cultured Christian".

Contradictorily, the idea did not last long. As I listened to and inferred from more Bible sermons, the pathway to being a cultured Christian became increasingly impassable. For instance, if Christianity talked about love and takes away God, it was no different from other theories. Theoretically, it was impossible for a person to live out the love pattern of Jesus Christ without believing in God. I also vaguely understood that to filter out the faith between men and God was to acquiesce in men’s trespassing on God. Why? If people did not have faith in God, they would definitely judge God. If God was to be known by men’s judgment, then it was not the God that Christianity talked about. All the understandings concerned would not be the revelation without acknowledging God in the first place. It would be more appropriate to call those understandings some kind of philosophy. Every week as I thought about these questions, I no longer despised religion like before. However, there were some questions stuck in my mind, which still hindered me from being totally humble to God.

Why do people need to be redeemed? Very often when I heard the term "redemption", I got quite offended. I thought, of both ends of redemption, that it was an extremely unequal relationship. One end was high above everything and the other end was as low as nothing. What was particularly intolerable was that those good people who studied the scriptures all agreed with one voice that if they did not believe in their God they would perish in hell.

So far, I had been with my church for more than half a year. Compared with when I first met them, my attitude towards Christianity had significant changes. Although I still regarded some doctrines as ignorance (such as a virgin giving birth), I had to admit that those Christians were more respectable and lovelier than others around me. Because of this unusual group of people, I was willing to participate in their gatherings all the time, but I did not want to call Jesus the Lord and call God "Abba, Father" just like they did (it was really embarrassing to do so). I thought my time with them like this would go on till I graduate at least. Unexpectedly, the day of change would soon come.

My church invited a speaker and I did not remember much of what he said that night, but what happened afterward was unforgettable. At the end of the fellowship, the pastor called me alone to pray for me.

Two of us got into a room alone to kneel down to pray. Since I was a child, I resisted kneeling down to worship but I reluctantly knelt down. In addition, I was asked to repeat every word of the prayer.

So I heard the pastor say: Dear Father, it is no accident that I came here. You love me and chose me...From now on, I will abandon Satan and follow the Lord Jesus Christ...Amen! I got up after saying "Amen", feeling dizzy. I did not know how I said goodbye to the pastor and I could not remember how I left. I just felt a great joy filling my whole person, from head to toe, from inside to outside, with every single body cell cheering.

The most incredible thing was that the questions that bothered me and made me think that I could never bow to God all of sudden became insignificant - and, on the contrary, they seemed childish and ridiculous.

I knew I had changed and felt like a totally different person overnight. The brethren who had gathered together began to call me "brother". I was a Christian, my heart told me - I was a Christian when I prayed with them with my eyes closed when I called "Lord Jesus Christ" softly when I could not stop weeping while singing hymns!

One day at noon, I watched a movie called "The Passion of the Christ" in my dormitory. I shed tears when I saw soldiers whipping Jesus‘ back. When Jesus walked to the execution ground with a cross on his back, Mary looked at him on the way, and I began to sob. When Jesus was crucified, I cried...I cried for an hour.

This may be nothing special to others, but it made my heart completely soft and open. Before that, I had not cried for anything for at least ten years, not even for my grandmother's death.

But at noon that day, I cried because Jesus loved me so much and was willing to be crucified for a sinner like me. I cried so freely and had a good time. I knew with absolute certainty that there was a God in this world, a God who loved us so much that he was willing to be humbled and became flesh, born in a manger, had no fixed place, was rejected by others, and would eventually be crucified.

(The article is originally published by the WeChat account of "Iske of Patmos" and CCD reprinted with permission.)

- Translated by Charlie Li

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