Who is My Strength and Refuge?

Written by Yang Sheng, translated by Eugene Wu

I was born in Jiangxi Province. I was the sixth among my siblings and the youngest. After earning my M.A. in a well-known university in China. I came to the United Sates to study for a Ph.D. degree in computer science.

Faking the grade

After taking my TOEFL [test of English as a foreign language, required of students applying to schools taught in English] and GRE tests, I was getting ready to apply to come to the United States to study for my Ph.D. in the fall semester.  Two  other friends were also planning to apply. They mentioned that people in the past had applied for admission using altered transcripts and that we could do the same thing. I felt rather uncomfortable about doing it but lacked the courage to refuse the suggestion.  I  convinced myself that there is no righteousness in this unjust world anyway so what did it matter?

One of my two friends found a street vendor to make a fake seal and we used that to create fake transcripts. Although I did not make too many alterations on my transcript and used the fake transcript only in one half of my applications, I still had a guilty conscience.  The knowledge that I had cheated became a heavy burden on me. When the responses came back I was admitted into an American university and was also given a scholarship.  I was on my way to the US to study.

Before I left China I made a hurried trip back home. When my mother saw me off at the railroad station she was having a hard time.  She said: “My son, how do you have the heart to be so far away from me?”  I didn’t know what to say, feeling rather melancholy myself. But I really wanted to go the United States to see a more peaceful and more democratic country. That was my goal.

Learning about more than just computers

After I came to the United StatesI was quickly attracted by the church fellowship. They provided me not only with an opportunity to see my friends and talk with other people, but also with tasty dinners. At the fellowship we heard about God’s love and righteousness and the gospel of Jesus Christ’s salvation, and there were also beautiful hymns. Gradually I came to the realization that I was wrong in my thinking.

Prior to that time I believed that there is no righteousness in this world, and one has to depend on himself. Now I realized that there is righteousness in God, and God rules over all. Many sisters and brothers in the fellowship helped me along in this spiritual awakening. They gave me rides and presented me with the magazine Overseas Campus and a Chinese-English Bible. After that I developed a routine of reading the magazine and the Bible either before going to bed at night or after just getting up in the morning.

Knowing the truth

As time went by God’s word began to have its effect on me. I began to realize that I wasn’t perfect, I made mistakes.  Once an American brother gave me a book entitled More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell. That book was very helpful to me. The author had initially tried to use historical sources to refute  Christianity, but subsequently became a believer and gave very moving testimonies.

Using an altered transcript to apply for admission weighed heavily on me.  It affected my research in school. I was going through constant struggles. While I had a guilty conscience and recognized that what I had done was wrong, I was too proud to put my trust in God. After a good while of struggling, I finally decided to accept Jesus as my lord and savior, and I prayed using the prayer in More than a Carpenter.

From the time I was praying standing up to the time I dropped on my knees the time elapsed was about five minutes. I knelt down because I wanted to show God my sincerity. In those five minutes I felt as if I heard the sound of my heart rending, and the wall of self-reliance that had been built there was being torn apart. I prayed, I admitted my sins, and I accepted Jesus as my lord and personal savior.

After I finished praying, a schoolmate called. He asked how I was doing. I told him I had professed my faith in Jesus. He said: “There are so many religions in the world such as Islam and Buddhism, why believe in Christianity?” I told him that the Bible teaches the how’s and why’s and Jesus is believable. I also told him that indeed I knew very little about Islam and I didn’t think being a Buddhist monk is the way I wanted to go. Before I went to bed that night, I prayed again, asking God to help strengthen my faith.

While I was lying in bed, all of a sudden my mother’s words at the railroad station: “My son, how do you have the heart to be so far away from me?” rang out in my mind. I cried my heart out. I realized that those were not only just my mother’s words, they were also God’s words. God wanted me to know his love for me and wished to develop a closer relationship with me. “A man does not shed tears easily,” so goes a popular Chinese saying. But what touched me and moved me to crying was something extraordinary. That something extraordinary firmed up my trust in God. He heard my prayer and gave me His blessing. Since them I was often moved to crying because of His teachings and His love for me. I became very fond of reading the Bible, and was able to understand it better.

Making it right, no matter what

After professing my faith in Jesus, I was moved by God that I must deal with the transcript issue. It was quite a struggle for me, as I was afraid that the consequences may get out of control. But finally I made up my mind to go to the university authorities and explain everything. I asked for their forgiveness for my past action. But their decision was to expel me from school, and that’s exactly what I was afraid it might happen. However, the Bible tells us that God will never leave or forsake those who put their trust in Him (Heb.13-5). The brothers and sisters in the church came to my aid and prayed for me. Although I was weak and discouraged, God gave me His support. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” (Rom. 10:11). I believe it. Even though I was no longer able to pursue my Ph.D. studies, God opened the door of employment for me and blessed me with abundance. I do not feel any lack.

While I was imprudent in my past action which led to my suffering, God  took pity on me and turned disaster into blessing. The blessing He gave me was through Jesus Christ which is eternal life. All who believe in Jesus are holy and righteous in the eyes of God, and could receive peace and eternal life through the Lord. All fortunes and misfortunes in this world are temporary, the important thing is to know Jesus and let him guide your life.

What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate? If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not as concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.

Is this the life for you? If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.

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