Pastor Chen Biao, Director of IIIM Ministries Theological Education Resource Center USA, East Asia Region
Jesus said to him, “Follow Me” (John 21:19)
I was born in an educated family in China, and like many others of the same generation, I was raised in difficult and tumultuous times. I had never heard of the bible or Christianity before university, and not to mention the “god” of the superstitious western society. In my childhood memory, I probably questioned why people call Sunday a “Day of Worship”, and got an answer instead questioning me whether I watched the Soviet movie. In a nutshell people believe that Sunday worship is reserved for the bourgeoise people of poor character, carrying out worship inside a creepy church.
The first Christian I know is my illiterate grandmother. That was before I left the country and while I was staying under the roof of my uncle. According to my aunt, my grandmother had been praying for us every morning after she turned to Christ. The day before I left, she prayed for my safety and future specifically. I looked at it as all superstition instead.
Learning Bible with False Witnesses
After coming to the United States, seeking education has become a turning point in my life. Immediately the first week into my doctoral study at Texas A & M, I started studying bible with a young couple of Jehovah Witness for the purpose of improving my English. That was an opportunistic move with the help of some friends, and it spanned four years of my life. After my wife and daughter arrived in Texas, the Jehovah Witness people had also become our family English teacher.
In the meantime, some American Christian friends became aware of it and warned us about Jehovah Witness being a cult and that we should stay away from it. I was thinking to myself since I had no genuine concern of God or Christianity, and the couple appeared to be nice persons, I really had no reason to switch. On the other hand, I became skeptical, I only asked them to teach the bible starting from “Genesis”, and I stayed away from their publications.
The weekly bible study during that four years did not have any impact on me, and I was teased about living in sin while studying bible. Deep down, my wife and I both acknowledged that the existence of God is much more logical than denying it, and disregard the drawing line is thin, we took the first step.
Encountering True Witness
In 1993, I started my post-doctoral study at Ohio State University. Before leaving Texas, I left my new address with the Jehovah Witness couple hoping to somehow continuing bible study through their organization. Upon arrival at Columbus, I was really hoping to meet these people, yet no one knocked on my door. Thanks to God, He prepared our hearts through changes in our environment.
One day while shopping at China town, a lovely Chinese lady noticed us being new comers, approached and invited us to a Chinese Christian church nearby. After learning that this is a Christian church of mainland Chinese, I promised to go the following week.
That was the first time in our life to step into a church of God, God was drawing us towards Him like a strong magnet, strongly holding onto us. At the end of that first Sunday worship, I was approached by some young Christian friends, and through their introduction I was invited to a bible study that evening.
After few weeks of bible study, we have accepted most principles of Christian faith: sin of mankind, redemption through Christ, everlasting life. However, we got stuck with the doctrine of trinity due to years of study with the cult. And because the cult teaching is from man, it hinders the acceptance of truth by a finite fallen man. For example, Jesus is the first creation of Jehovah (twisted understanding of Hebrews and John), as the son of God, how can he be God at the same time? If the holy spirit is just the power of Jehovah (degrading the position of Holy Spirit within the Trinity), would it not be the same that applies to the will power of a man? It was simply not possible for us to differentiate true Christianity at that moment. Wrong teaching causes more harm than not teaching: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” (Matthew 23:13)
Entering the Kingdom of Light
Two months later at an evangelistic Sunday worship, my wife and I were touched by God’s words, through the Holy Spirit in changing our mind, God’s calling came through the pastor, calling us to come in front of Him from a different place, to repent and accept Christ as our Lord and savior. I have no recollection of the sermon that night, yet I remember vividly the congratulations from our friends during that night while doing bible study.
After studying the bible for a while, and with the help of our pastor, God started leading us to understand the essence of John Chapter 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Surely, the Jesus who died on the cross for my sin is the Word together with the everlasting God, the Word that became genuine man, who lived among us, full of grace and truth.
I thank God for revealing himself through the Bible, coming to earth speaking to mankind, teaching us truth, leading us into truth through the Holy Spirit. I thank God for selecting us before the creation of the world, saving us with His grace. Both my wife and I were baptized during Easter of 1994, to become under the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.
A week or two after we got baptized, the people of Jehovah Witness contacted us. I then found out that they made a mistake in the zip code! As we look back, we have unspeakable thanks and fear of the Lord, it’s His faith and power protecting us from the evil of the cult, leading us from the grip of the darkness entering the kingdom of light, having us re-born, cementing the everlasting father son relation in Christ.
To Be Continued…