The story has many versions, but the same point. One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to escape to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, “Jump! I’ll catch you.” He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness, and, as can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling, “Jump! I will catch you.” But the boy complained, “Daddy, I can’t see you.” The father replied, “But I can see you, and that’s all that matters.” The boy’s faith in his father asserted itself even though he could not see his father, but his father could see him. He jumped, safe in his father’s arms. He had faith in his father.
George Mueller, known as a man of prayer, faith, and a builder of orphanages, is reported to have said, “Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”
I have experienced the power of such faith in my life. I was not born in a Christian home; faith was not my heritage. I grasped faith when it was given to me as a gift.
I was born in a Buddhist family. I did not know anything about Christ until I entered high school in 1996. An evangelist had come to my town in Malaysia, and out of curiosity, I attended the meetings, heard the Word preached, and it gripped my heart. After the evangelistic meetings, I decided to learn more about the Bible and God. Soon I accepted Christianity and wanted to study theology and become an Adventist preacher. Therefore, I prayed to God to open a door to study theology according to His will. God made this possible when I arrived at Hong Kong Adventist College in December of 1998.
I was a new believer as I had only been baptized for a year. I faced many trials and difficulties when I was studying in Hong Kong. Despite my faith in God, my situation did not change. One of the struggles I was facing was finances; I was a self-supporting student. Besides studying full time, I had six part-time jobs in order to pay off my tuition fees and living expenses. As a result, I suffered physically. My health condition worsened; I had migraine headaches at least three or four times a week because of stress and lack of sleep. I still remember several times when I cried out to God to let me die because the pain was so unbearable. Every time a migraine came, it lasted for days. One evening, when I was admitted into the emergency room, I was hoping the doctor could treat my migraine. However, he simply said, “You need to relax and rest more.”
Faith to the rescue
It was in this period of time that my faith came to my rescue. From the time I became a Christian, the Bible was always my refuge, and I found great comfort in its promises. I treasured God’s Word in my heart. My one consistent prayer was that God would continue to strengthen my faith in Him. I knew that Jesus loved me, and He would always be with me no matter what happens.
Besides financial and physical struggles, another trial I faced was the unfairness of life. Since I was an international student coming from Malaysia, the only scholarship I received was a one-fourth tuition discount from the school. I was jealous of my fellow students who were local and received much more generous scholarships. Neither my desperate needs nor higher grades made any difference. However, my faith did not waver. I reasoned to myself that God was testing me so that my faith could be strengthened in the midst of trials. Just like Job says, “ ‘But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold’ ” (Job 23:10).*
Job! What kind of experience was he going through that led him to make such an affirmation? Job was a God-fearing follower; he obeyed God and trusted Him.
If we look at Job chapters 1 and 2, we learn that God allowed Satan to test Job. He lost almost everything he had—livestock, children, servants, property, and even his own health. Job 2:7 tells us that Job was afflicted with painful sores from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. Even his wife told him to curse God and die. Yet, Job replied to her in verse 10, “ ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ ” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. This story is recorded in the Bible for us to learn about faith and trust in God. Can you imagine? If you were Job, what would you do? Job would never be able to stand firm on this trial if he did not have a relationship with God. Look at what he said, “ ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’ ” (1:21). Job realized that God is the Lord of our lives. He gives and He takes away.
Despite all these terrible and heartbreaking trials, Job still believed in the Lord, for God was the object of Job’s faith. Our belief affects our attitude and our reaction. What do I mean? Look at the attitude and reaction Job had while facing all these problems. Job’s faith, trust, and belief were all rooted firmly in God. What if his faith and belief were in his children, property, livestock, and servants? Then he might have committed suicide as his wife suggested, “Curse God and die.” Job would have been so hopeless if his faith was based on everything he possessed. That was not the case. His faith was in God, and God never disappears. So, when everything was lost, Job had one assurance that can never be lost and he exclaimed, “My Redeemer lives.” In that Living God, Job trusted, so he survived every crisis. He did not lose hope because he based his faith in the Lord—God was the object of his faith.
God opens the way
Going back to my own story, despite my trials and struggles in Hong Kong, I kept praying to God and believing in Him. I was praying for God to open a way for me to study in the United States if it was His will. I also prayed that He would help me pay off all my expenses, tuition fees, and provide me a place to stay. I was very sure that there was no way for me to be able to study in the States if it was not God’s will.
God opened a way for me to study at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, United States. I arrived there in August 2000. When I arrived, I did not know anybody. I was by myself, yet I knew that God was with me. Before arriving there I also prayed for God to care for my life and studies.
God is so amazing and great. The day after I landed on the university campus, I went to see different departmental heads and school administrators to check on what kinds of scholarships I could receive. Meanwhile, I also looked at some ads, trying to find a room off campus since it was cheaper.
On the second day of my search, God amazingly put me in touch with a lovely couple. I told them that I wanted to study theology and all I had was the deposit and enough tuition for the first semester. After listening to my testimony, the couple looked at each other. Then the husband told me that they used to rent their rooms out to students, but they did not rent them out anymore. However, just a few days before my arrival, the Holy Spirit impressed the heart of the husband that if there was a student who was studying and working hard and did not have a place to stay, then they would allow the student to stay.
“Now a few days later you’re here,” he said. “I’m sure God has sent you to our house.” The wife showed me one of the rooms and said to me, “Don’t worry about anything. You may stay with us.” They treated me as their own daughter, and let me stay with them for almost one whole year without charging me anything.
It was all God’s doing. I always reminded myself that “we live not by sight, but by faith.” Though I did not have enough money to study, know anyone, or know the culture, I believed God and His promises in the Bible. My faith was in God. I believed His Word, “ ‘You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power . . . nothing is too hard for you’ ” (Jer. 32:17). I know that everything on earth belongs to the Lord, and if it’s His will, then He will hear my prayer just like 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (NASB). I received my Bachelor of Theology at Southwestern Adventist University and Master of Divinity at Andrews University Theological Seminary. I finished these degrees debt free.
The important lessons I learned from my walk with God include: to trust and have faith in Him, believe His Word, and claim His promises because our God loves us so much that He will always carry us through. There might be times when we pray and pray and nothing happens. We believe in God and His promises yet certain things happen that let us down. We might have lost faith in God because of various situations. However, we must never lose heart, never give up hope. Always trust in God.
Augustine is reported to have said, “Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of faith is to see what we believe.” That was the story of Job. That is also my story. And that can be yours too. Just believe in God.
* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quoted is from the
New International Version.