Broken and Blessed
by Bill Fu
If you ask me what the most valuable thing I have received during the 15 years I have been in the United States, my answer would be: knowing Jesus Christ who saved me and completely changed my life. However, if God had not intervened and broken me, I would never have humbled myself!
Driven by Pride
Not long after graduating from college and going to work in my chosen profession, I lost my way. Life became aimless and full of stress, to the point that I sometimes relied on anti-depressants to help me cope. As a computer programmer, my work was project-driven—from 9 am to 9 pm. The daily grind exhausted me, and I lost all motivation to work, even as serious competition in the IT industry kept reminding me that I should work harder to make myself more competitive in the job market.
As I struggled with stress and depression, my future was uncertain. I didn’t know if I should pursue a management position or continue to hone my technical skills. I longed to return to school days when everything seemed so simple and enjoyable to me as a top student. So, when the opportunity came to pursue a doctoral degree, I did not hesitate. I quit my well-paying job and began to study for my PhD in computer science in the United States.
Although the new way of life in the U.S. was full of challenges, it was exciting, and I quickly achieved success in my field of study. I passed all the qualifying exams for PhD students in two semesters. Compared to other students, my biggest advantage was the industry experience I already had and my programming skills. Now, with the solid theoretical foundation I was getting through the PhD program, I imagined a very successful future for myself. I was proud and very ambitious!
In my third semester, I enrolled in an English class to improve my writing, which was not very good. Even in this class, because of my pride, I considered it a failure to make a “B.” Unfortunately, I did not know what the Bible teaches about pride: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). I did not know God or listen to Him. Some people had tried to persuade me to read the Bible and believe in Jesus, but I thought only weak people needed God.
Close to the end of the semester, I needed to work with a team of students to submit a group paper. We randomly collected some information from the internet and submitted our work. When an email came from the university saying that our paper contained plagiarized material, I was shocked! I had always been a top student and had never plagiarized anything. Ashamed, I felt the need to go to a church to pray to God. This was the first time I went to church by myself. It was not on a Sunday, but there was one gentleman inside the church. He was nice and allowed me to pray in a room. I knelt down and prayed, “God, if you can help me get through this situation, I will believe in You.”
It turned out that the plagiarism charge stemmed from the content copied from the internet. We honestly did not know that we should give credit to others when we cited their work. In the end, we got a “0” on this assignment. Although I passed the course, I could not get an “A.” My pride prompted me to retake the course so the lower grade could be replaced with an “A.”
The following semester, I reminded my team members to be honest and never copy anything. I sent emails to the team instructing them to add references whenever they cited others’ work. By the end of the semester, another group paper was due. One teammate said he had already finished a paper on our assigned topic which we could use, so we wouldn’t have to work on another one. He assured us that he had not copied it—it was his own work, a paper he had written for his company but hadn’t published. After looking over the paper, which was full of typos and grammatical errors, I believed him.
When another email came from the university office saying our paper was plagiarized, I almost broke down. Our teammate had cheated. He had copied information from a white paper on his company’s website. To make us believe it was his own, he had typed the paper himself, which explained the typos and grammatical mistakes. So, for a second time, I found myself going to church to seek God’s help out of the situation I was in—the same church and the same room. Although I was gripped by despair at the time, looking back now, I understand that this experience was a blessing from God; otherwise, I would never have humbled myself to truly believe in Him.
When my team met at the university office to learn our fate, the lady there told me that, since this was my second offense, I would receive an “F” directly. I explained to her the situation and showed her emails as evidence that I had worked for academic honesty within our team—and that I had contributed to the project. She changed her decision, and I praised the Lord!
A Change of Heart
These two incidences completely shook me. I had always believed I was smart and that everything was under my control if I just worked hard. But how could I have been so stupid to make the same mistake twice? For the first time, I felt that I was very tiny. The world was full of pitfalls, and I did not have the wisdom to avoid them.
So, I started to read the Bible, this time seeking help and wisdom from God. When I finished the first four gospel books, Jesus’ teaching and His sacrifice deeply touched me—particularly when Jesus said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). I knew that I was a sinner because the root cause of my failure was my pride and greed. Jesus came to save sinners like me. I should believe in Him. However, I also deeply struggled because my wife was not a believer, and neither were my friends. I was afraid they might laugh at me and treat me as a weird person. Some friends even kept telling me that I should not be “cheated” by the religious people.
But—praise the Lord!—God had prepared everything. An American couple, Jim and Margaret, who had been missionaries for over 20 years in Asia, guided me and my family to a Chinese church—First Chinese Baptist Church of Dallas. I had already known them from an English class they offered on the campus at my university. They were always kind to international students, and I really liked and trusted them. They had invited me to the Chinese church before, but I was not interested. I was always too busy to go to church. But after the two incidences of almost losing my credit at the university, I was struggling with the thought of believing in Jesus Christ—and also, our first child was born. I thought of looking for a church where my child could grow up in a friendly environment. I thought of the Chinese church but didn't have the courage to contact them.
Somehow, I thought: If Jim would call and invite us to the church, that would be great! Indeed, one summer day, Jim called me and invited my parents to join an activity for seniors at the Chinese church, because he knew my parents were visiting from China at that time. I was so excited and praised the Lord for His preparation. Gradually, my whole family got used to going to the Chinese church where the brothers and sisters were very friendly and loving. In February 2007, I finally made up my mind to accept Jesus Christ as my life’s Savior and to be baptized—and it was Jim who baptized me.
A Change of Life
After getting baptized, I actively attended church and took advantage of Bible study opportunities. The more I learned God’s Word, the more peace I had in my heart. Even when the economy crashed in 2008, at the very time I started to look for a job in the U.S., I believed that God would prepare one for me. Indeed, God did prepare a job for me that was much better than I could imagine—the opportunity to teach computer science at a major university in another state. God is so faithful, and what the Bible teaches is true, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, presentyour requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
I have continually prayed for the salvation of my family members. Eventually, my wife believed and was baptized in 2012, my daughter in 2018, and my son in 2019. And just this year, my mother-in-law also believed in Jesus and got baptized in China. Now, I am still praying for my parents’ salvation. I believe that God has His time to save them.
When recalling the blessings God has given me in life, I cannot thank Him enough. I do not know the exact time when my anxiety and stress went away, but I do know that God wants me to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). I fully understand that I am not worthy of any of God’s blessings. It is all because of His grace. I pray that I will be a true follower of Jesus Christ throughout my life and always be a witness for Him.