奧克蘭教會 余祖傑（Tsu-Chieh Yu）
Hallelujah, in the name of Lord Jesus I testify.
A mans steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way? (Pr 20:24)
Time flies, it has been eight years since we immigrated to New Zealand in 1999. Looking back, what gratifies me most is that my family was able to come to the true church of God, True Jesus Church, and to have become members of the household of the everlasting God. Back in Taiwan, I had no religious beliefs except for the annual ancestral worship. My wifes family believed in some Chinese folk beliefs, therefore we did not know Jesus. In October 2000, I was invited by a friend to attend Sunday services at a Chinese church in North Shore. I also went to the pastors house for Bible-reading every Thursday, but I was still filled with doubts. Nevertheless, from the teachings of the Bible, I realised how I fell short of Gods glory with my past wrongdoings. Also, as I had seen my inadequacy from my children, I was certain that there is a God in the universe who controls the lives of men.
In 2001, our nephew came to New Zealand to study and he lived with us. He had a sports injury and was referred by a friend to Dr Shen (Brother James Shen) to undergo acupuncture. One day, on the whiteboard of Brother James house I saw, “Holy Spirit, Baptism, Foot-Washing Sacrament, Holy Communion and Sabbath.” I was curious so I sought his help. He explained them to me using many Bible verses, and cleared up some questions I had in my mind. Since then, I have been reading the Bible whenever I got the time. Thank God, I gradually understood the Truth regarding salvation that is recorded in the Bible. However, when I checked with my pastor, his explanation was somewhat different to the Bible so I felt confused. To understand the Truth, I started truth-seeking at True Jesus Church in August.
The first time I came to the Sabbath service, I was shocked by the sound of the prayers because I was not used to it, yet marveled at the way how Preacher Timothy Chang delivered his sermon basing on the Bible. After the service, when the believers exhibited their hospitality and shared some teachings with me, I inquired the preacher of some questions I had towards the Bible. My whole family attended the next Sabbath service and went to the September spiritual evangelical convocation, which helped us to gain a better understanding of sin, God, and His salvation.
In one of the gospel booklets there was a verse, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Pr. 14:12). This verse had a great impact on me, could it be that what my pastor told me was wrong? Why is the church the body of Christ (Eph 1:23), and since there is only one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God (Eph 4:4-5), could True Jesus Church be the only church of salva
tion? What about other denominations? One of the gospel booklets mentioned that the Church of God must preach the Truth, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and abound in miracles and the manifold power of God. However, because I did not have the Holy Spirit, I was confused, I could not understand the relationship between the church and salvation, though other churches also believe in Jesus, use the same Bible, and havemiracles as well as the grace of God.
Like me, my wife knew that the True Jesus Church preached the Truth from the Bible, but because she could not experience Gods existence, she did not believe. She told me that the first time when I came home from True Jesus Church and tried to explain to her the Word of salvation, her mind went blank, and her ears buzzing, until I had finished and closed the Bible. It was as if her heart was calloused; seeing but not perceive, hearing but not understand.
All my friends from our previous church told us that all denominations are the same for all are believers of Jesus. Any church that is established in the name of the Lord Jesus can be saved regardless of denominations or doctrines. They told us that there is no need for us to go to a church so far away. I did not know what to do but I remembered Jesus promise, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt 7:7). Therefore, I prayed to God to guide us to the church that belongs to Him, one that He abides in. I also prayed to God to obstruct us from going to a church that does not belong to Him. Thank God, He harkened to my prayer.
In October, two days before the Moon Festival for Chinese people, the pastor and his wife from our previous church paid us a surprise visit in the morning. After their arrival, another pastor and his wife also called to pay us a visit. Since both couples came without prior arrangement, I took the opportunity to share with them what I had learnt from True Jesus Church in the concept of God, baptism, foot-washing sacrament, the Holy Communion, the Holy Spirit and the Sabbath. I shared my understanding with them through relevant Bible verses, and pointed out euphemistically to them that their views were different to the Bible. They were amazed at my sharing but could not accept it. Just before they were about to leave, they suggested that we pray for Gods guidance, so I requested that we kneel down to pray. The six of us then, hand in hand, knelt around the table and took turns to pray in intelligible words.
Just when we were starting to take turns praying with verses from the Bible, my wife repeatedly said, “Hallelujah, praise Lord Jesus.” This was because she had never read the Bible and did not know how to pray. In the past, she only had to say “Amen” after the pastor said the prayers. Not knowing what to do when everyone, including herself, had to take a turn praying, she suddenly remembered the praying method in True Jesus Church, so she closed her eyes and started saying, “Hallelujah, praise Lord Jesus.” Not long after she started praying, she had a vision. In the vision, clothed in a robe, a man was seen appearing in brilliant white, especially his face, that she could not see Him clearly. He was standing on the pulpit where the two pastors and their wives lowly knelt just opposite it. Initially my wife did not know who He was but soon realised that He was Jesus. To make sure that she was not having a day dream, my wife opened her eyes and saw that everything was normal; she could also hear what we were saying. When she closed her eyes again, she went back to the vision, where Jesus came down from the pulpit and looked around at the empty seats before going up to the pulpit again. When it was my wifes turn to speak, she felt urged by a spiritual power to say to the pastors, “I have seen Lord Jesus and He wants me to tell you, the pulpit belongs to Him and you should only preach the Word of God.” When she had finished, my wife was astonished and could not stop shedding tears because she had experienced Gods presence and knew that Jesus is the true God.
Thank God for having mercy on us and giving my wife a vision so that we could understand His will. We have understood that True Jesus Church preaches the Truth of the Bible, has the abidance of God, and is the church of salvation. Not only so, we also learnt that God is omniscient and omnipresent, so we must be careful with our minds and thoughts. We should keep a God-fearing heart and observe His commandments. Ever since then, our family only attends True Jesus Church. Thanks to the grace of God, in April 2002, our whole family was baptised into His name. God has washed away our sins with His precious blood so that we may be called His people.
After we have come to the True Church, I became aware of how precious the Word of salvation is. Therefore with a heart of thanksgiving, I shared my knowledge with many friends and invited them to seek the Truth in the True Church so that we could all receive the benefits of the gospel. My wife and I also preached to our mothers in Taiwan, but because they have been Buddhists for years, they could not accept such a change of religion. We have often prayed for our unbelieving relatives so that God would have mercy on them. I believe that since our loving and faithful God had led us into His name in New Zealand, He would also save our relatives in Taiwan out of His love. Because the promise of salvation is for us and our children and for all who are far off (Acts 2:39). Therefore I had decided to go back to Taiwan to preach to our relatives.
The day after the Auckland Church Dedication on the 19th of April 2003, I went back to Taiwan. Thank God, my mother and sister were willing to go to the spiritual evangelical convocation held in Dong-Sheng Church in Tainan. Although there were some obstacles, thanks to the guidance of God, they were able to attend the services, pray and read the Bible with me everyday. My mother has simple faith, even though she had not experienced God, she was willing to come before God and pray to Him everyday instead of her usual Buddhistic worship. One morning when I was praying, the preacher of Gang-Shan Church made a sudden visit to my mother. He said that he had not pre-arranged for this visit, but was moved by the Holy Spirit to come. He invited us to attend the May spiritual evangelical convocation in Nan-Zi Church. In one particular evening during that evangelical convocation, the sister who was helping my mother with the Bible found herself miraculously and instantly turning to the correct verses the preacher was referring to in the first act of her hand during the sermon, and this occurred quite a number of times. It was that night when my mother received the Holy Spirit. Thanks to the mercy of God, who examines the hearts of men, originally my mother could not experience the God I was preaching but now she has the Holy Spirit as the guarantee. After knowing the one true God, my mother intended to rid her idols, but because her faith was not strong enough, she was afraid of harassment from the devil, so she wanted to be baptised and become the child of God first. I did not dare push her so I prayed to God to guide her.
In August, after one Friday evenings service, my mother told the preacher that she wanted to rid the idols in September. That night my mother felt that her whole body was itchy and hot. The next morning she found that her whole body from the neck below, was red-purple, and although it looked frightening, she did not feel unwell either physically or mentally. We took her to a hospital for a check-up and the doctor was astounded; because he had never seen such a case and could not give a diagnosis, he only took a blood test. When the preacher knew of this, he told my mother that this was a spiritual battle and asked her if she would like to rid the idols that day after the Sabbath service. Thanks to the power of God who overcame the devils work, my mothers skin was restored to normal three or four days after the removal of the idols, and the hospital report showed that everything was normal so even the doctor was surprised. This has also strengthened our faith that True Jesus Church is the church of salvation. In October, my mother and sister received baptism in Gang-Shan Church and became the children of God. Thanks to the guidance of God and the intercessions of the brothers and sisters, I have further experienced Gods abidance during this period of preaching to my family.
During this period, I had also preached to my mother-in-law, but she did not believe because she had converted to Buddhism and did not want to give up her religion. For this, my wife was anxious. She fasted and prayed tearfully for God to show mercy, and God comforted her in her prayers. We understand that God has His own time for everything, as long as we continually pray for this matter; He will surely guide my mother-in-law to know the true God and become His child so that she may receive eternal life.
Because of Gods love and guidance, my family has gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Rom 5:2). At this moment, although some of the things are not yet accomplished, through faith it is as if we have already seen them accomplished. Not only so, we are thankful that we may grow spiritually in Gods grace and truth, and count the blessings of God everyday. May God continue to add to our faith, strength, and love so that we may spiritually cultivate ourselves, help in divine works, and preach the gospel to repay the grace of God. May all the glory and praise be given to Lord Jesus name, Amen.