He Does All Things Well
A Church-kid of Church-kids
I grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago as a church-kid born of church-kids. From a young age, I knew I had a godly heritage: all of my grandparents had touched the church life in their twenties, and two of them migrated from Hong Kong to the Philippines to serve full-time. I myself was a good, capable child who prayed before meals, read through the entire Recovery Version Bible in seventh grade, attended the video trainings, and excelled in verse memorization. At my first Summer School of Truth (SST), a two-week Christian summer camp for junior high and high school students, a brother shared the gospel and I saw for the first time that our salvation does not depend on ourselves. Though I was very good outwardly, I knew that some things in me were not. But praise the Lord, I realized that all I must do is confess my sins; He is faithful and righteous to forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). I prayed to receive the Lord that evening and was baptized when we returned from that SST.
Needing to Choose the Lord
I had many good patterns as I was growing up, including many older church kid cousins. However, I noticed that even some of the strongest ones drifted away when they went to college. It wasn’t until the summer of 2014, when I attended a weeklong Summer Training on Genesis, that I put words to what I had observed: we each need to choose the Lord for ourselves. Just as Lot was walking in the right way because he followed a godly man, eventually he had to choose for himself. Unlike Abraham, though, he made his choice apart from God and eventually ended up in Sodom. For us, without an active decision to choose the Lord, without a vision of what He is after, it is so easy for us to drift away. I realized that the fact that I was a church kid could not alone guarantee that I would continue to follow the Lord for the rest of my life.
The Lord’s Best Arrangement for Me
My most memorable exchanges with the Lord occurred when I was considering where to attend college. During my last SST, the speaking brother asked, “What kind of Christ are we seeking? Do we seek a family Christ? A social Christ? An activity Christ?” In my mind, I thought the best place I could go for college was the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), which had a well-established Christians on Campus club, a strong student core, a full-time serving team and families burdened for the campus, and many students who actively pursued the Lord together throughout the week. However, the Lord showed me that in my considering an “ideal college church life,” I wasn’t fully seeking just Christ Himself; what I wanted for my church life was not necessarily what the Lord wanted for my church life. At the time, I also knew that a much smaller campus, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), had a need for students. The core students were all leaving that coming year, and all but one of the remaining students were brand new. I was strongly opposed to attending UIC because, even academically, it was everything that UIUC was not.
I applied to UIC anyway as a backup school, but I was so set on attending UIUC. I asked the Lord to cause me to choose His perfect will, even though I myself was still not willing. I felt that the Lord wanted me to go to UIC, but I also still wanted my choice, and the Lord kept bothering me about it. Some days I prayed that He would make me open to His choosing, but most days I would just fight. Eventually, I made a deal with the Lord and said, “Lord, if this is really Your perfect will, then how about the UIC GPPA Medicine program? If I get in, then I will say amen and go to UIC. I can even potentially get two gap years to go to the FTTA, no problem. BUT if I don’t get into this program then I’m going to my first choice without any hesitation.” I figured there was absolutely no way I would get in, but the Lord always has the final word. When I was accepted into the GPPA Medicine program, I could only say, “Amen, Lord, You win.”
Through my college years, my attitude toward UIC did not improve: the school was far from prestigious, the registrar lost my transcripts four times, the campus facilities were not attractive, the city seemed to smell funny, and I had few friends because everyone was a commuter. My freshman year living situation was horrific and I spent that entire school year asking the Lord why He made my situation so hard when He was the one who had put me there in the first place. Despite my frustration, as I opened up to the Lord, He found a way to supply me with His all-sufficient grace and all-fitting life. Eventually, my situation turned and I had the opportunity to live by the meeting hall for the last month of that year because my suitemates had gotten all of us kicked out of the apartment. That summer, I continued to stay at the hall for the Chicago 2014 Christians on Campus internship.
Looking back, I can see that the Lord really supplied me with everything I needed in my college years and more. I opened my situations to Him and I ended up with decent professors, a flexible research assistantship, an apartment near many saints, and very good grades. Even though it was painful to sacrifice my carefully cultivated pride on several occasions in order to choose the Lord, I saw that He can only work with as much of our heart as we give Him. When we seek first His kingdom and His heart’s desire, He is faithful to add to us what we need because He knows what we need (Matt. 6:8, 32-33), and this is not always the same as what we think we need.
Consecrating to Him
I began to learn that what is sufficient for our situation is nothing less than His superabundant grace. In this way, He has also provided a clear way for me to attend the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA) – a full two years of Bible school. I am so thankful that He has placed me where I am, and I now see that His placing me at UIC was the very best arrangement there could have been.
My parents never pushed me to attend the full-time training. I started considering it during the SST before my junior year of high school, when we covered the topic the Church. I really enjoyed seeing that our individual salvation is for the church as His corporate expression. For this, God needs His people to grow to maturity and be perfected for the building up of His Body (Eph. 4:13-14). It was encouraging to see many of my SST serving ones pay the price and choose this way. In this past National College Training, I enjoyed seeing that God needs absolute and consecrated ones who would be one with Him and who would overcome today’s dark and degraded situation to turn this age and bring the Lord back. This really solidified my decision to give my next two years to the Lord to attend the FTTA.