This post was originally written in 2004 in Chinese for a Chinese Gospel Magazine and was translated into English in 2010 and revised in 2018. After rereading the post I realize it was poorly written but I feel it still reflects my spiritual condition in 2004. In the future I plan to write another testimony telling the story of my salvation from a different perspective that reflects my spiritual growth throughout the years.

The hopeless condition of man is the beginning of knowing God

I was born in the Hebei province of China. My hometown is a small village in the south of Hebei province. It is adjacent to Henan province and is situated near a river. My family was poor but started to earn more money when my father began to work at the local township auditing department. My mom stayed in the village to grow crops and feed pigs. In spite of the hardships my family’s financial situation was more stable than other families in the village.

(Sean’s childhood home. Photo by Sean Song)

As a child, I always wondered why we live on earth. I would always think about this in my yard while looking at the stars. Sometimes I sat on a small hill near my village wondering, “Where will I be in the future?”

My older sister was enrolled in college in 1981 and was the only one to be accepted to college in our whole county that year. This was turned into a huge event. Not only did the local teaching authority pay a lot of attention to this, it also changed the mind of my grandpa and other family members. It is not common to have a child from a rural village enter into college. Also, people in the village were prejudiced against females. So, my grandpa said that my brother and I must be accepted into a college.

When it was my turn to go to college I was accepted into a college in Beijing. However, I faced many hardships. Not only was I pressured financially, but I also had to face inequalities. There are always prejudices against people from rural or poor areas in China. I felt hurt inside and sometimes became very passive. After four years of college, I stayed worked there for another 4 years. I wasn’t satisfied with that life and I still felt empty and didn’t know what my purpose in life was.

Because of this, I decided to study abroad, which is the dream of many Chinese students. I got a joint offer from the London School of Economics at UK and the University of Southern California. The tuition for the university in London was around 10,300 pounds, but I only had 10,000 pounds. By the third semester, I ran out of money. I did not have enough money to pay rent, tuition, and living expenses. I was also unable to find a job. I asked my family to help, and they gave me 1000 pounds. The university later offered help with my tuition, so that problem was solved.

At this point in time, I began to look for a full-time job. One day, I was lingering in a park near McDonald’s when I heard people singing hymns. This attracted me to their gathering in the park. They were a group of Christians. They also portrayed through a play how Jesus was crucified. I was so touched and could not help but cry.

One sister named Mary came to me and shared with me about God. I asked her if she had ever seen God. How can you say there is a God if you have never seen Him? She said she did not believe it either when she was a student at Oxford. But one day, when she went to a meeting with her father, she was touched when her father was sharing something about the invisible Christ with other Christians. She thought that was probably God because she did not have it. She sent me a Bible later and asked me to come to her Church, but I never had a chance to visit because I had already started to work at McDonald’s part-time. I worked the night shift, starting from 8 pm to 3 or 4 am. It was very tiring. Sometimes I tried to get up in the morning to visit her church, but I did not have the strength to wake up.

(Jairus was working at one McDonald store at London in 2002.)

I had already finished my first year of school in London at that time and I was looking forward to coming to the US to finish my second-year study but I did not have the money. I worked out a way to get the school to send me the I-20 first, and then I got the F-1 visa as well. But I still did not have the money. I was hoping to get a scholarship from USC, but they replied very late and only gave me a tuition waiver for 8 credits. I had to finish 24 credits to graduate.

(Sean was at Oxford University in 2002. Photo by Sean Song)

It was a painful struggle to decide if I should come to the US. I had the visa but I did not have enough money. I really didn’t want to go back to China at that time for a few reasons and I was not satisfied with my one year study in the UK. Most importantly, I felt I was seeking something, but hadn’t found it yet.

My life was full of anxiety. I cried out in my innermost being, saying, “Whoever gives me peace, I will believe in him.” Finally, I decided to come to the US with a one-way ticket and a couple hundred dollars. When I was on the airplane, I didn’t even have a plan or know what I would do.

The first night in the US, I stayed in a classmate’s house. The second night, I had to move out, but I had no place to go. I signed the housing contracts with the school and moved into the dorm, but I could not sleep all night. The next morning, I went to the registrar’s office but I couldn’t decide if I should register. I knew that if I registered, I would have to pay the fee. If I didn’t register, I would just go back to China immediately.

I just couldn’t decide. I wandered outside of the office from morning until late afternoon. It was a painful experience. Eventually, I decided to go back to China because I realized that I could not survive here. I had already fulfilled my dream by coming to America. I started to look for some Chinese students to ask where I could find a travel agency to buy a plane ticket.

Just before I did this, I cried out again in my deepest part to God: “God, I am such a sinner, do you still remember me?” I remember exactly how I said it, and it was in English, not in Chinese. After I did that, I felt peaceful in my heart and decided to go back to China. I found a couple of Chinese students and asked them if they knew where to buy plane tickets, but they told me they had no idea.

Later, another student came across the street; I was having a hard time telling if he was Chinese or Korean. He looked Korean, so I asked if he was Korean. He was actually Chinese and a brother from the Church in Los Angeles. I asked him about the same thing, and he asked me why I wanted to go back. I told him the reason. He told me that I should not go back and I should finish my study here.

He brought me to the brother’s house near campus and fellowshipped with the Church elder and brothers who lived in the brother’s house. The brothers were willing to let me move in the brother’s house. The brothers even agreed to let me pay the rent later if I had no money. The brother taught me how to pray, and we prayed together before we went to see the housing department and my department director. The housing department agreed to cancel my contract and the department director agreed that all the 8 credits of scholarship were for the first semester. Originally, 4 credits were for the first semester, and 4 credits were for the second semester. As an international student, I was required to register at least 8 credits to become a full-time student. All of my problems seemed to be solved in a couple of days! I even found a part-time job on campus to help cover food and other needs.

I still didn’t have money for my second semester’s tuition, but the brothers taught me to pray unto God. They told me that the Lord would take care of my needs if I dedicated myself to the Lord. I also felt sinful when I first believed in the Lord, so I prayed desperately for Him to take care of my needs and forgive all my sins. After half a year, I started to feel the assurance of forgiveness. And with the help of our department director and fellow believers, I was able to pay the tuition later.

However, I continued to struggle with financial problems. Upon graduation, I couldn’t afford the monthly meal expenses because I didn’t have the job on campus anymore. So I worked at a toy store for a short period of time. I quit my job later because the boss was constantly cursing at employees. When I was in desperate need, I received a call from a Chinese magazine that had received my application and wanted to interview me. I went there by bus, and in the final bus stop, the bus driver told me I was going in the wrong direction. I was actually going in the right direction, but I didn’t know. So I started to walk in the opposite direction to take another bus. While I was walking a little bit, a van stopped by me in the street corner and asked me where I was going. A Hispanic man gave me a ride to the company and I arrived for my appointment at exactly 9 am. Later I thanked him and asked him why he helped me. I also called him brother when I thanked him. It turned out he really was a brother. He said that he was touched when he saw me walking and decided that he would drive me wherever I needed to go. He also told me that he would generally never stop for a stranger since he had three kids in the van in car seats. They were on their way to a daycare center.

(Sean was being interviewed by a Chinese TV journalist when he graduated from USC in 2003. Photo by Sean Song.)

I ended up getting the reporter job at the Chinese magazine. But when the boss asked me to have an interview in a certain place, I told her that I did not have a car yet. She cried out “My God!” The other boss later asked me to get a car as soon as possible. Before that, I could take the bus to work. At that time, a brother who moved out of the brother’s house left an ‘84 Lincoln Town Car for me to use, but I did not have a driver’s license. I failed a couple of times but finally got it by the due date my boss gave me.

During that month, something else happened. I was planning to come to work by bus but just a couple of days after I started to work, all the MTA bus drivers at LA went on strike for one month so I was unable to take the bus. Luckily, one private bus was still running from my company to downtown LA and a Korean brother dropped me at the bus stop when he went to work. After I got off from work, I took the bus downtown and waited for the brothers to take me home. This sometimes took a couple of hours and I used this time to recite the verses from the book of John while I was waiting. I was so touched by the brotherly love at that time.

This difficult time had led me to receive the Lord and to dedicate myself to Him. In the journey of my belief, there were many miracles. After I started to work, my financial situation got better and better. The Lord’s hand was still guiding my life. I got the job in Nov. of 2003. In that year, I overheard some believers talking about the first New Jersey Chinese Speaking Perfecting training in August of that year. This is an annual Chinese speaking conference within our denomination. They were talking about how the Lord’s spirit was working powerfully there, and how a brother from The Church in Riverside was completely changed after participating in this training. I was determined to join this training in 2004, and I knew I would experience big changes in this meeting. This was not from me, it was the Spirit leading me.

In that meeting in August 2004 at the Church in Franklin, the Spirit was everywhere. The main topic in that training was to dedicate your whole being to the Lord and to prepare for His second coming. Everyone was encouraged to dedicate himself or herself to the Lord. I refused to do so even though many brothers urged me to do so. The second to last time, two brothers urged me again to dedicate myself to the Lord. I refused again. They looked at me with judgment in their eyes, but I didn’t take it personally. I felt the judgment from the Lord strongly. He seemed to remind me: How many times did you say that you would dedicate your life to me if I did certain things for you?” I recalled in a second all my prayers in which I asked the Lord to take care of my needs and that I would dedicate my life to Him. I had already forgotten them a long time ago, but the Lord always remembers.

That night, I knelt and prayed to the Lord. “Lord, I still have a hard time believing the truth about your second coming. I would dedicate myself to you if you reveal this to me.” Later when I fell to sleep I felt two people were fighting for my heart. The Lord was stronger, and He took it. The next day I dedicated my life to the Lord. And while one brother was talking about the New Jerusalem, I felt the heavens open in my spirit. The Lord spoke to me: If the body of Christ, the New Jerusalem, is built up, I will come back. This proved that only those who dedicated their lives to the Lord can see the vision. Just like many brothers have told me.

I was completely changed when I came back from the training. I got rid of a lot of bad habits and started to pursue the truth. I read the book Life Study by Witness Lee every day. The believers in my locality were so surprised that I had changed.

Written by Sean Song

Edited by Danielle Pagnanella