Finding Absolute Joy

December 6, 2011

Below is the testimony of an Asian international student. He recently became a Christian after connecting with InterVarsity students at his college in California.

I was born in a Buddhist Chinese family. My parents practiced Chinese traditions such as burning offerings to local spirits and Buddhist traditions such as going to the temple. However, we never talked about religion in our house. I was sent to a Christian school where I learned about Jesus for the first time. Because of my knowledge of Jesus, local spirits, and Buddhism, I became a pantheist believing that God is everywhere.

During that time, there were moments I hated when I thought about what would happen when I die. I reached two possibilities. If there was no God, I would just fade away into nothingness for eternity. If Buddhism was true, I was stuck here in the cycle of birth and death forever. Both possibilities scared me. In those moments, I cried.

In middle school, we learned that my dad had a brain tumor. We sent him to the best doctor we could find, but the situation was hopeless. The only thing we could do was to pray for a miracle. I prayed to all the gods I believed in. Nothing happened and my dad died. I was so angry at God for not existing.

My faith in the supernatural died quickly. I became an atheist and began to trust in science, believing that it explained everything. I thought of religious people as those who were hypocritical, intellectually weak, and crazy. My goal was to enjoy life as much as possible. But sometimes, when things did not go well, I thought of ending my life to stop the suffering.

A Growing Hunger for More

Bible study
I was very blessed to win a scholarship from the government to study in the United States. I came to college and had a great time. I did well in class and had many friends. Life was quite satisfying. Or so I thought. There was a quiet voice that had been growing in me. A thirst for something greater. A hunger for a meaning of life. I ignored it most of the time.

In the spring semester of my sophomore year, I met Professor Dave Vosburg, who became my research advisor. His Christian faith surprised me. I did not know that scientists and believers were compatible. This man completely knocked down the image I had of a religious person. He did not seem to be a hypocrite and he was one of the smartest guys I knew. There must be some grain of truth in what he believed.

That summer, I was introduced to Thoreau’s Walden. The book got me to search for the meaning of life more seriously, to find something I would stand for. I also got a chance to talk more with friends. I learned that many of them were Christians. These people just kept popping up once I started to look for them. It again surprised me that these young scientists and engineers cared about God deeply. Why?

Only One Can Satisfy

school desks
In the fall, I joined an InterVarsity Bible study group in my dorm. I was quite sure that if I studied the Bible enough I would certainly find a flaw and could reject it with more confidence. It did not go as I thought.

My friends convinced me to go to InterVarsity’s Winter Conference, which blew me away. I confessed the lustful sin that had been bothering me and I was introduced to the idea that human relationships and marriage must revolve around God or else they won’t work. That idea resonated with me deeply.

I went to an InterVarsity Bible study on Mark. It was the first time in many years that I heard the story of Jesus. I enjoyed it so much. To satisfy my curiosity, I borrowed many books from Dave to learn more about God. I was reluctant to accept God because of my dependence on science. But Mere Christianity and several other books broke down the wall and challenged me to admit God existed.

Then the relationship I was in failed and hurt me badly. I already concluded that it was not possible for me to be satisfied by material things. So if human relationships failed me, what could satisfy me? That little voice in me had grown so loud. The thirst did not seem to be satisfied by anything in this world.

At the same time, my lustful sin kept coming back to me. I tried to deal with it by myself. I failed repeatedly. One day, hopeless and desperate, I wept. I prayed to God that he had to come now; I could not do this alone. I admitted that God is who he says he is and that there was nothing else I could do except follow him.

That same day, I told my friends and asked to be baptized.

Later that night, I was lying on my bed, thinking. I was not sure whether I fell asleep or was still awake, but I felt so peaceful and satisfied. I felt like I was warmed in a blanket of white light. Such an absolute joy.

Glory be to God for saving a wretch like me.