Story: From Pursuing Good Works to Receiving Free Grace

A handwritten 'Grace' cardboard placed on the hands
A handwritten 'Grace' cardboard placed on the hands (photo: Getty Images)
By Esther TianAugust 21st, 2023

The first time I met a Christian named Yuan (pseudonym), his pastor introduced him as follows, "This is Yuan who is very devoted, loves the Lord deeply, and serves diligently."

Yuan has his own job and participates in church ministrys during his spare time. Originally from Northeast China, he has walked with the Lord for more than 20 years. His quest to seek the Lord began to grow when he was a teenager. Below is a first-person account of his journey to the Lord.

From my early teens, I began to explore whether another world existed, whether there was God, and whether He was the Jade Emperor described in the Journey to the West. I also questioned whether religious concepts like the Temple of Hades, the eighteen levels of hell, and the six paths of reincarnation were real.

Relatively young at that time and coupled with being born into a poor family, I hoped to utilize magical powers to change the status quo.

One day, by chance, my neighbor and I went to a temple, and I confusedly joined in worship. Then I bought some classic books with the little pocket money I had managed to save and "invited" an idol home for worship. Instantly, I felt the urge to always do good in exchange for the unknown grace.

So I started doing good deeds and giving alms. I did not even dare to swat mosquitoes because I heard that a mosquito might be someone's reincarnation. I sometimes gave my school lunch to ants!

After doing good deeds for more than a year, my young heart continued to experience hopelessness as my deeds failed to bring me "good fortune." My parents' arguments grew more frequent; I was scolded more often; and my teachers criticized me more. I realized that doing good deeds did not solve the problem, and I felt deceived.

I did not know where I got the courage to burn all the idols I had previously bought with my pocket money, along with those misleading books. However, the emptiness and confusion that soon followed made my heart sink again.

The winter of 1994 was particularly cold, and it was almost Chinese New Year. I was looking forward to the New Year, as I hoped my parents would buy me nice clothes and give me pocket money. But I was not so expectant because I knew my father did not make much money. I could only pray silently in my heart, hoping that my father, who was a builder, would suddenly be able to get a project and make more money.

Suddenly, one day, people from our village came to my house and told my mother about a God. They said that this God loved the world, even to the extent that His Son died in our place. As long as people believed in their hearts, they could be saved and accepted, asking help from Him in any difficulties.

I found it incredible—this was pure grace. This God was extraordinary. I told my mother, "Mom, let us follow the Lord and ask Him to bless and protect us. This God is so awesome and reliable because He is a loving God."

My mother heard me speak so happily, and she also believed. Even though our family was facing finacial difficulties at the time, we bought a Bible.

A few days later, the same people from the village told my mother and me that Christmas was approaching and we should go to church and attend worship every Sunday thereafter.

On Christmas day, as I entered the church, I received a blessing, "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." Many years later, I saw that this statement would become a reflection of my life.

Not long after attending church services, my fourth aunt's husband approached my father and gave him a construction project. Soon after, our family's financial situation improved drastically. This was proof to me: God was looking after us; He loved me and cared for my needs.

Although my family experienced some misfortunes and my own experiences have been rather rough, this proof remained deeply embedded in my heart.

After years of seeking and through the revelation of truth, I discovered that only by having faith in God can we find answers, as this pertains to the ultimate meaning of life.

-  Translated by Nonye Nancy

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