Testimony: Discovering True Life From My Brother's Death

Two hands contacti through the light of love.
Two hands contacti through the light of love. (photo: Pixabay.com)
By Chen YichengDecember 13th, 2023

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life like? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” These are my favorite scriptures, which appeared the first time I opened the Bible.

In 2015, my sophomore year, I received my mother’s call informing me that my twin brother had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Trembling, I couldn’t understand how a healthy person suddenly got cancer. Why did God punish our family like this? A fatal disease made everything in vain. What’s the meaning of our hard work in studying? I was drowning in the endless bitterness, thinking it would be better not to be born in this world if life was like this.

Long ago, my aunt gave me a Bible, which I treated as a literary storybook all the time. In desperation, this dusty Bible just occurred to me. When I opened it and saw the scriptures from James, I realized that life is in the hands of the Lord.

I was born into a regular family with a normal couple and three normal children in the village of Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province. It was so ordinary that I thought we could live an ordinary and peaceful life. The only unusual thing is that my brother and I were twins. My parents kept teaching us three from our childhood that the only way to succeed is by studying hard.

Therefore, my brother and I put forth all our efforts to study in big cities, moving beyond the rural areas. My brother got admitted to a national key university in Zhejiang Province, while I enrolled in Shanghai. We were affirmed that, with sufficient effort, a bright future awaited us. However, as Proverbs says, “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” The illness of my brother struck unexpectedly.

With continuous excellence in study, my twin brother believed that he was on a path of absolute truth: “Knowledge is truth; studying changes destiny.” He often burned the midnight oil to get more honors and scholarships without knowing that men’s bodies are temples of God. Cancer knocked on his door due to excessive pressure and long-term sleep deprivation.

God has gradually changed my perspective and whole life as I learned of my brother’s illness. Jesus said, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” My brother only learned that at the cost of his health and life.

Thanks to the Lord, my family took belief in Him because of my brother’s cancer. My aunt had often tried to preach the gospel to us since I was little, but no one accepted. She made another attempt after my brother got sick. The family started to count on “Jesus heals all who believe,” as there was no hope for a cure. However, my brother’s cancer didn’t heal in the end. The Lord granted him four years, and despite this short period, he became a person who truly knew the Lord.

During his illness, he raised three profound questions to those in the fellowship: "You said believing in Jesus can get healed; why hadn't I?” “You said believing in Jesus can go to heaven. What is it like? Have you been there?” “How can I get saved?”

He rested in the Lord’s arm in 2019. Under my brother’s influence, two believers in his fellowship became pastors. My brother also found the answers to his questions, encouraging many people online when he was sick. In his last words, he told me about the “new heaven and new earth” he saw. There was a smile on his face as he passed away, from which I saw a beam of light.

On the contrary, my progress in faith was slow. My brother’s death hit me so much that I even considered jumping out of the window due to overwhelming agony, despite having no physical illness. My sister advised me to go to church. Later, I experienced God’s miraculous guidance in everything and got answers from Him. There has been a huge turning in my thought and life, and I started to seek true life.

One day, there was a vague voice in my dream saying, “Rise and be a channel of blessing to all. You must worship the Lord in spirit and truth. You must believe that nothing is too hard for Christ, for everything has now been finished.” At midnight, I woke up in tears of utter joy and relief, certain that He loves me and that He loves me. Since then, I have renamed myself Chen Yicheng, taking two characters from the Chinese phrase “worship the Lord in spirit and truth.”

I barely dare to show my past and the wounds within. For the sake of the gospel and to bear witness to what Jesus has changed in my life and family, I decided to open myself up, recording the Lord’s grace with my words.

- Translated by Poppy Chan

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