An Overseas Student’s Testimony: How to Depend on God in Study | The Church of Almighty God
By Zhang Ying, United States
I vaguely remembered on the first day when I entered into my university, the university organized the leaders of the upperclassmen to share what they had learned from their campus life. The whole speech revolved around “connections” all along, which had already become the first potentially required course of surviving in society for the most freshmen. The wonderful power of the great connections conveyed from the seniors in high spirits made me remember it long.
In 2016, while doing a master degree, I had the good fortune to participate in the one-year united training program between my university and an America university, and I smoothly came to America to study. In America, besides the good teaching environment, my deepest experience was freedom of belief. I could attend gatherings and share God’s word with my brothers and sisters online, which believers in China dared not think of. However, in May of 2017, I met an obstacle on my road to studying overseas. For this reason, I felt very helpless and painful in this unfamiliar country, and instinctively, I made use of my connections.
In May of 2017, I had been in America for half a year, and my research program had just been half finished. My mentor suddenly told me that I would either end the program ahead of schedule and return to China or postpone my graduation. His reason was that I wouldn’t have enough time to publish my thesis according to the requirement of the university after finishing the one-year program. In addition, he asked me to write an application for the postponement of my graduation. After hearing these, I didn’t know what to do. I was unwilling to go back to China because I liked the air of freedom in America, where I could freely believe in God with nobody criticizing or pursuing me, and on top of that, it was a disgraceful thing for me to postpone my graduation. Thinking of this, I suddenly felt my own world became dark, as if there was a big stone in my heart. Because of this, I couldn’t fall asleep for a quite long time every night.
After hearing my situation, some of my friends and seniors shared their thoughts with me and helped me through their connections. A senior in China, who was also a mentor, told me: “In China, if a mentor asks a student pursuing master’s degree to postpone his graduation, it means that the mentor has a good reputation and is strict with his students, or that he wants to spite you. I suggest that you give him some gifts and say nice things to him. Then look at whether you will have a change in fortune.” And some schoolmates also told me: “Since your mentor fixes his attention on your thesis, then I suggest that you spend money seeking someone to help you publish your thesis.” Anyway, all their methods are those, such as spending money, seeking personal connections or falsifying. I felt very conflicted, for these methods were all unbeloved by God. But faced with the postponement of graduation, I didn’t know how to solve it. Then I reconsidered, thinking that it could be that God helped me through my friends and allowed me to solve my problem by these methods. But I believed in God and would not do things like sending gifts and spending money to falsify. Nonetheless, if my friends helped me find the place where I could do experiments, I would experiment by myself, and after that, it was all right for me to spend money to publish my thesis. In this way, I acted based on my own will, without reading God’s word or praying to God to seek whether my doing this way conformed with God’s will or not.
I first asked my friends to help me find a proper place to go on performing my experiments. Then they introduced a senior who was at the same four-year university as me and gave me her WeChat number. After friending the senior, I first greeted her, saying: “Hello! It’s very rare to meet you overseas. What’s more, we are from the same four-year university. That’s too rare!” Actually, because of the postponement of my graduation, my mind was already very exhausted, but I still needed to greet her with smile and pretended I was excited. That was because when asking favors of others, one has to flatter them and cotton up to them by saying nice words. My duplicity disgusted myself much. Although the senior later promised to ask whether or not there were the experiments related to my subject, ultimately she didn’t find such experiments.
During that period, each day I discussed my problem with my friends on WeChat, searched everywhere for materials, ideas and teachers on my phone and computer, and busied myself with the ways of the world. That not only made me fail to finish my daily experiments, but also affected my church life for I chatted with my friends while in gatherings. In this way, I gradually became more and more distant from God, and prayed to God just as a formality. At every gathering when my sisters asked me how my recent situation was and whether I had something to share, I would perfunctorily say nothing. That was because I could feel what I had done was abhorrent to God, but I didn’t want my deeds to be pointed out. As the days passed, the thing, which I thought I could depend on my friends and connections to solve, became more and more complicated. Besides, more and more people were involved in it. Every day, I needed to say different words to flatter different people. Even if facing my friends, I would pretend to be very positive and firm in order not to let them think I didn’t appreciate favors. Faced with this, I felt extremely exhausted, not knowing how to walk the future path. However, to graduate as scheduled, I had to force myself to do like this. I completely lived in Satan’s deception.
One Sunday afternoon, my uncle, a fellow villager of mine, called me. I suddenly felt too fatigued to care about the reason why he called me. I didn’t want to consider anything, nor did I want to do anything, so I pretended I didn’t hear the phone, not answering him. After my phone finishing ringing, I lay down on my bed and cried outright, feeling rather powerless. Then I knelt down and told God about all the pain and helplessness in my heart loudly: “O God! Recently I am preoccupied with the thing of my postponement of graduation. From that I have seen my craftiness. I want to solve my problems with my connections, but this period of experience causes me to see my hypocrisy. I also feel exhausted. God, I don’t know how to face these matters. But I know that Your arranging these surroundings for me is to let me seek the truth and learn the lesson, rather than let me suffer pain. Yet because my stature is too small for me to see through these, I am still led around on a leash by Satan. God, please quiet my heart, lead me and tell me what to do. I am willing to put aside my own interests and obey Your arrangements.” After praying, I felt a little relaxed and realized that I should rely on God to face these things instead of being tied down by these.
In the evening of that same day, when in the gathering, my sisters shared me with a piece of God’s word “Establishing a Proper Relationship With God Is Very Important.” The more I read it, the more I could compare it to my own circumstance. This was especially so when I read these words: “If you don’t have a proper relationship with God, no matter what you do to maintain your relationships with other people, no matter how hard you work or how much energy you exert, it will still belong to a human philosophy of life. You are maintaining your position among people through a human perspective and a human philosophy so that they will praise you. You do not establish proper relationships with people according to the word of God. If you don’t focus on your relationships with people but maintain a proper relationship with God, if you are willing to give your heart to God and learn to obey Him, very naturally, your relationships with all people will become proper. … When one does not give his heart to God, his spirit becomes obtuse, it becomes numb and unconscious. This kind of person will never understand God’s words and will never have a proper relationship with God; this kind of person will never change their disposition. Changing one’s disposition is the process of one giving his heart completely to God, and of receiving enlightenment and illumination from the words of God. … If your heart cannot completely turn to God, then you are not of God — you come from Satan, and in the end you will be returned to Satan. You are not worthy of being one of God’s people.”
I felt these words described my circumstance exactly. I had never told any brother or sister my recent experience, but God knew my deficiencies. In recent days, in order to graduate on schedule, I fetched help everywhere and tried to use my connections to resolve this problem. Neither did I want to lose my future that I liked nor want to lose my face. I was living entirely in an interpersonal philosophy. Then I thought about my former conduct: If someone is useless to me, I surely won’t interact with him; however, if he is capable, even if I dislike him, I will come close to him. My conduct was exactly the same as what God’s words revealed: No matter how reasonable one’s relationships with other persons are from the outside, there are aims to their relationships. Their aims all are to protect their own benefits. The more I read God’s words, the more I was moved. I suppressed tears to continue reading, feeling that God was judging me face-to-face. He allowed me to know that my establishing physical relationships with people was loathed by God, and I couldn’t possibly receive God’s blessing. I also knew that only by submitting to God’s sovereignty and arrangements could I receive His blessing and guidance. If I still remained unrepentant and stubbornly stayed the course, then I finally would get further and further from God and be slowly returned to Satan. Not until reading this, did I realize: I only said I believed in God yet didn’t have any reality of belief in God. When something happened to me, I completely placed God aside and relied on my own methods to deal with this thing. Yet I still couldn’t see through my pitiful state of living by an interpersonal philosophy, being bound by Satan and living entirely in negativity. Even every morning when I awoke, instantly I thought I needed to face the complex personal relationships, I hoped I could suddenly die so that I didn’t need to face these. At this time, I suddenly realized that if I still didn’t repent, the consequences would be serious.
Thinking back to the past, when I lived by the truth, I was positive and my life was full of sunshine. However, because of living in Satan’s life philosophies recently, each day I was exhausted and became more negative. This was not the state a believer in God should be in. So I again prayed to God: “O God, I am grateful for Your enlightenment! And thank You for letting me see clearly that living by Satan’s life philosophies is despised and hated by You. Living by those made me not only lose Your blessing but also feel that my future was filled with pain and without hope. Now I am willing to forsake my flesh, live according to Your demands instead of satanic philosophies of life, and obey Your sovereignty and arrangement.” After praying, I decided to lay all worries down, truly commit everything to God and have genuine faith in God. Besides, I decided to learn the lessons I should learn and rely on God to resolve problems rather than relying on Satan’s philosophies.
The next day I got up early. After I prayed, I read the following passage of God’s words: “Almighty God, the Head of all things, wields His kingly power from His throne. He rules over the universe and all things and He is guiding us on the whole earth. We shall often be close to Him, and come before Him in quietness; never shall we miss a single moment, and there are things to learn at all times. The environment around us as well as the people, matters and objects, all are permitted by His throne. Do not have a complaining heart, or God will not bestow His grace upon you” (“The Sixth Utterance” in Utterances and Testimonies of Christ in the Beginning). After reading this, I thought: Yes! Is everything not in God’s hands? Whether I will graduate on schedule or not is not up to anyone. I should obey God’s sovereignty and not act according to my own ideas. The facts show everything of man is in God’s hands. If we don’t rely upon and look to God, no matter what we do, we won’t achieve any results. In my studies, what I should do now is try my best to do what I can do. At the same time, I should also focus on meetings and place importance on building a proper relationship with God. Later, when on a bus, I texted all my friends that ever helped me one by one. I told them about my decision and thanked them for these days of help. They didn’t give me more advice but support me, and said that they would still help me as much as they could if I regretted. When getting off the bus, I didn’t think of the future things anymore. I only wanted to entrust everything to God just as what I prayed. At this moment, I felt very steady and peaceful. This was a feeling of happiness which couldn’t be bought with any material comforts. Looking at everything around me, I felt the sky very blue, the sunlight very warm and the air very sweet. I was thankful that God created everything beautiful for us to enjoy, and that God helped me shake off the shackles of my spirit.
I put this matter aside from my heart and handed my application for the postponement of my graduation in to my mentor. I never expected that things changed after two months. One day in July, before going home, my mentor phoned me: “If you return to China in November as scheduled and hurry to do your experiments, I’ll let you graduate on time.” After hanging up the phone with him, I thought of what he had just said: His tone was completely different from his tone in May. Besides, he also allowed me to go home as scheduled and then graduate duly. What most surprised me was that my name was in the paper he published. That meant if his paper appeared in the magazine, I could graduate smoothly. From this, I genuinely saw that God is faithful. Just as God’s word said: “If you don’t focus on your relationships with people but maintain a proper relationship with God, if you are willing to give your heart to God and learn to obey Him, very naturally, your relationships with all people will become proper.” God is almighty and His words are the truth. Only God is in charge of all. When I was willing to give my heart to God and submit to God’s arrangements, and no longer sought ways out, God opened up a way for me. God is too trustworthy! Only God is my greatest reliance. All the glory be to Almighty God!
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