My Journey to the True Jesus Church
Manna 83: Spring

Patsy YM Seow — Neili, Taiwan

 

 

THE JOURNEY BEGINS: SEARCHING FOR GOD

 

Growing up in Malaysia, my childhood was far from ideal. My family would often have quarrels and fights, and sometimes the police had to come to our house to settle these disputes. These experiences affected me emotionally, and I could not comprehend why my family life was so chaotic. I envied my peers because their families seemed so normal. Gradually, loneliness began to seep in, especially when I could not find solace in other people. In search of answers, I began to seek God in my life.

 

At the age of nine or ten, I first heard about Jesus through my two older siblings who had attended Christian Sunday schools. I later learned more about Christianity by reading free publications. When I was fourteen years old, I attended a Christian event organized by a group of churches in Malaysia, and I decided to become a believer. At the church I attended, the congregation was taught how to “speak in tongues,” and sang lively hymns. Nevertheless, I did not experience God’s presence there. Over time, I started to doubt God’s existence, and stopped going to church.

 

 

MY TIME IN THE UK: BEING LED TO THE TRUE CHURCH

 

In September 1997, I arrived in Portsmouth, UK, to complete my undergraduate studies. Towards the end of that year, two Malaysian friends on my course, who were members of the True Jesus Church (TJC), invited me to the church in Portsmouth.

 

During my first visit to the TJC, I felt uneasy about the way the members prayed in tongues, and praying on my knees was uncomfortable. I was not interested in returning, but my two friends were persistent. They kept preaching to me, and one of them would even invite me to church activities after we both returned to Malaysia. But I would always decline.

 

           

A SECOND CHANCE AFTER EIGHT YEARS OF WANDERING

 

From January 2002 to June 2003, I worked at a non-profit organization based at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Thailand. I was sad when it came time to leave, but I had a feeling that I would be able to return in the future. A month later, I returned to Malaysia and found a job. But after a while, working life became meaningless and monotonous. Every morning I would commute to work, spend the whole day in the office, and go home when the sun sets. When the weekend came, I would either be at home resting or doing chores, or hanging out with friends. I felt that there must be more to life—I sensed that God must exist, and my desire to find Him grew stronger.

 

In a bid to experience God, I started to attend services at different churches. There was one particular church I felt good about, where I fitted in nicely with the church members. In August 2004, I accepted their baptism in a bathtub. Yet, during the time I spent in this church, I did not experience God.

           

After this, I decided to further my studies, and took up a language course in Italy in April 2005. The following June, I went to the UK to visit the Malaysian TJC sister who had remained there. Again, she invited me to Sabbath service at Portsmouth TJC. After the service, she asked me to give the TJC another chance when I returned to Malaysia. “Just attend for one month,” she said. But then she changed her mind, “It would be better if you attend for at least two months.” I promised, reluctantly, that I would.

 

It had been eight years since I last stepped foot into the TJC, but this sister did not give up on me, and neither did God. And this time, I realized that if I wanted to personally experience the true God, I needed to humble myself and be submissive to His guidance.

 

 

STUDYING IN THAILAND: EXPERIENCING GOD IN THE TRUE CHURCH

 

In June 2005, I returned to Malaysia from Italy, but it was not long before I would leave again. After two months, I flew to Thailand to undertake a master’s degree in information management at the AIT.

 

During the first year of my master’s, I was very busy with my coursework so I could not fulfill the promise to my friend in the UK. But in my second year, with only my thesis to write, I had more time on my hands.

 

So in October 2006, sixteen months after making the promise, I finally found myself at the TJC in Bangkok attending Sabbath service. I travelled for hours by public transport to get there, but when I arrived, I could not find the church. I contemplated giving up. But thankfully, after a phone call to the church, someone came to pick me up. At the church entrance, despite mental and physical exhaustion from the four-hour journey, I was filled with an indescribable joy.

 

The Sabbath service was conducted in Chinese and Thai—two languages in which I lacked proficiency. But this time, I willingly knelt down to pray. During the prayers and hymn singing, the conversations I had with my friend in Portsmouth suddenly came to mind—I was moved as I recalled her genuine concern for my faith.

 

After the service, I was invited to have tea and snacks in the communal area to get to know the Bangkok members. By God’s arrangement, a Singaporean brother happened to be there on a business trip and could interpret for me. Later that night, I returned to my dormitory feeling exhausted, but joyful.

 

At church the following Sabbath, I received a stack of English TJC publications; I read each one cover-to-cover that very night. Almost nine years after first coming into contact with the TJC, I finally understood the basic beliefs and acknowledged that this could be the true church. To my mind, the teachings of the church seemed to be pure, genuine, and true. So, for the first time, I began to pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I prayed to receive the Holy Spirit, in order to confirm that the TJC is indeed the true church.

 

From then on, even though the journey to Bangkok TJC took more than three hours, each visit brought me joy. During my third Sabbath there, my arms shook so much as I prayed that I thought the pew was unstable. I continued to pray diligently for the Holy Spirit, at any given opportunity, with support and encouragement from the brethren.

 

One night in November 2006, I attended evening prayer service at church and stayed overnight. Even though I had prayed fervently during the service, I still had not received the Holy Spirit, so I decided to continue praying in my bedroom. Within an hour, I started to speak in tongues, and I cried tears of joy. I had received the Holy Spirit!

 

Just before I completed my studies and returned to Malaysia, I was baptized into the TJC at Bangkok on May 20, 2007. I had wandered for almost ten years since my first encounter with the true church. In fact, I had been searching for the true God since childhood, and had finally found Him in the True Jesus Church. It was God’s timing and grace that finally brought me to His church.

 

 

RETURN TO MALAYSIA: THE STRUGGLE TO STAY ON THE PATH

 

When I returned to Malaysia in June 2007, I started attending Sabbath services as a TJC member. However, the congregation was much larger than in Bangkok, so I felt somewhat lost in the crowd. I started to lose interest in church, and my faith declined further as I struggled to find a job. When I was able to find employment, I had to work on Sabbath days, and found myself becoming stressed and overworked. After changing jobs several times, I decided to return to my studies—this time to pursue an overseas doctoral degree (PhD).

 

A key criterion in deciding which university to attend was whether there was a TJC in the area. I ended up applying for the PhD in information management at Yuan Ze University of Neili in Taoyuan, Taiwan. Even though I only achieved an average grade for my master’s degree, I was awarded a full four-year scholarship to the PhD program. This could only have been God’s wonderful guiding grace. While I struggled to maintain my faith in Malaysia, where I was more focused on achieving financial independence, God sent me to Taiwan so that I would again seek Him with all my heart, and strengthen my faith.

 

 

SENT TO TAIWAN: BEING FED IN THE WILDERNESS

 

In August 2010, I landed in Taiwan. Living alone in Taiwan was not only challenging but, at times, lonely. Because of this, I learned to rely more on God, and to pray fervently, even over trivial matters. God also arranged my circumstances such that going to church was very convenient—initially I lived about twenty minutes’ walk from Neili TJC, but in August 2014, I moved to accommodation that is less than a minute’s walk away.

 

Unlike in Bangkok, where I was driven by spiritual thirst to travel for hours to attend church, God brought me to Taiwan so that I would have no obstacles in drawing closer to Him. He sent me to the wilderness, away from the distractions of family life and my non-believing friends in Malaysia. He led me away from the comforts and patterns of my old life, and the worries and pressure of work, so that I would rely and focus on Him alone. Even though God had placed me in an ideal situation, I still had to avoid distractions so I could stay on this path of spiritual cultivation. Studying towards a PhD requires round-the-clock commitment, but I made the effort to attend church services regularly, and avoided secular activities on Sabbath days.

 

Throughout my time in Taiwan, I can see how God has changed me. I used to be impatient, and constantly quarreled with my parents. But living in a dormitory with up to three roommates for four years taught me to become more tolerant and patient towards others. When I visited my parents in Malaysia, they were taken aback by how much more patient and less quarrelsome I had become. I even started to play hymns from the TJC hymn book on our old piano. My parents had previously been uninterested in the TJC, but upon seeing this change in me, they willingly started to attend church events. In essence, our Christ-like behavior allows others to acknowledge that Christ indeed lives in us (Gal 2:20).

 

Another way that God has changed me is through church work, and the gifts He has bestowed upon me along the way. When I first came to Taiwan, I could barely speak Mandarin Chinese; so I began to seriously learn one of the world’s most difficult languages, praying for God’s spiritual wisdom and guidance to help me. It took me almost two years to write Hanyu Pinyin  for more than four hundred hymns in my Chinese hymn book. As my Chinese improved, I could begin to participate in church work. I started off with catering duties, then ushering, and then I spent three years as a member of the adult choir. I was eventually able to testify and lead discussions in Chinese, and interpret from Chinese to English. By God’s grace, since arriving in Taiwan with very little Chinese, I can now serve Him with my new language skills.

 

 

GOD’S GRACE AND WISDOM ARE SUFFICIENT FOR MY ONGOING JOURNEY

 

Throughout my time in Taiwan, I have experienced constant grace and blessings from God. Though I spent much of my time at church, I obtained good grades for my PhD coursework and my research papers were readily accepted for publication. These results could only be possible through God’s blessing. Furthermore, I could survive financially despite being unemployed for over seven years. I lived a frugal life, but God has never let me go without. I have experienced, firsthand, that He blesses and provides for us if we put Him first in our lives (Mt 6:33), and that His grace is indeed sufficient (2 Cor 12:9).

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

The twists and turns of my spiritual journey have not been coincidental, nor have they been according to my own plans. Instead, my footsteps have been guided by God’s higher will. As the Lord declares in Isaiah 55:9:

 

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

 

Ever since I began searching for God in my childhood, God has guided me and opened the way for me to find Him in the true church. Although I turned away several times, for years on end, God patiently waited for me to turn back. Although I still have much to learn, and a long way to go, I know I can trust in His loving grace. And my sincerest hope is that my non-believing family and friends will give the TJC a chance, or in some cases, a second chance, just as I did all those years ago.

 

May all glory be given to God.

 

 

 

Date
Jul. 13, 2017
Author
Patsy YM Seow
Publisher
True Jesus Church
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