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A Glimpse of Hell

On August 24, 2003, I woke up not feeling normal. My body was out of control! I felt as though I were being governed by some invisible force that was taking me through a lot of frightening scenarios—an earthquake, a fire, and dying in despair! I tried to stop these strange feelings, but couldn’t. My mind was clear, but I felt desperate and empty in my heart. Suddenly, I knew there was indeed a higher being than a human being, and that there was an invisible realm that existed beyond the merely physical realm which my eyes could see.

Searching for Truth

Being Chinese from mainland China, I was educated in atheism which says that religion is the spiritual opium of capitalism. I was taught to believe that religion is for the comfort of the weak; therefore, I determined to be strong within myself!

But while I was in university, I started to question why I should exist. What was the meaning of my life? Being taught that “philosophy is the fruit of the highest wisdom,” I turned to philosophy for answers. But the more I read, the more depressed I became. Philosophy had no perfect answers.

I tried to practice Buddhism as a religion—and experienced the mysterious power behind it—but my mind could not be persuaded. So my search for truth continued, even though I had no idea what truth should be like.

Subtle Attraction

When I came to the U.S. for study, for the sake of understanding American culture and gaining knowledge about the “Western” religion, I joined a Bible study group on campus. I never expected to become a Christian. Instead, I tried my best to challenge and question the Christian beliefs. Every week I argued with the Bible study leaders, but the next week I would go back to join them.

The Christian friends genuinely welcomed me every week, even though I was a challenge to them. I was impressed with their patience and kindness. Sometimes I found myself wanting to be like them. Especially appealing to me were couples who had obviously wonderful marriages. But my heart was hard, and I told myself, “Even though their life is desirable, if it is based on a false belief, I am not going to accept it. Unless someone can prove God is real, or God shows Himself to me, I will never believe in God.”

Decision Time

After one and a half years of weekly Bible study, I thought I had learned enough about Christianity, and it was time to make a decision. Since there was still nobody who could prove to me that God was real by physical or scientific means, I decided not to believe. So I sent out an email to my Christian friends on August 12, 2003. I told them that they were nice people and I really appreciated their friendship, but I wanted to say “bye-bye” to Bible study and church, as none of them could prove God to me. I thought that I would never touch the Bible again or go back to church.

God Speaks

However, a big surprise came in my life that August 24th morning—I prayed to become a Christian—by myself in my bedroom. I humbly acknowledged a higher power. The knowledge acquired through Bible study suddenly made sense to me, and I prayed to accept Jesus as my Savior. The strange feelings were gone immediately, and my heart was filled with transcendent peace.

I waited a few hours until most people had gotten up, and then called one of my Christian friends to ask whether I could still go to the church service with them. It was a Sunday! Actually, I felt embarrassed to make the request, because I had just sent an email to them 12 days earlier saying that I would never go to church again. To my surprise, these Christian friends received me with joy.

Now I know that God probably showed me a glimpse of hell that morning to lead me into a personal relationship with Him through salvation by His Son, Jesus Christ. As a new believer, I thought for a short period that God had saved me because I was good in certain areas. Later I realized that it was purely God’s grace and mercy, because I have the same sinful nature that everyone else has. I did not believe in God. I had pride, impure thoughts, and unloving speech and conduct towards people. These are all sins according to the Bible.

God also saved me because He is faithful. He will have us find Him when we set our hearts to be pure and seek for Him. "Ask and it will be given to you; Seek and you will find; Knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). Through Jesus Christ, we—as sinners—can be reconciled to God and have an intimate personal relationship with God, our Father in heaven. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

A Life with Purpose

After becoming a Christian, God gave me a hunger for His Word. I finished reading the entire Bible word for word in two months, while at the same time writing my Master’s degree thesis. Bible reading became a joy, and I got to know God through His Word, all because the Holy Spirit was in me, enabling me to understand His Word.

Today, I walk with the Lord daily. He speaks to me when I seek Him through devotion time in the morning. He guides me and blesses me in my work and study. He answered my prayer for a wonderful wife and a great marriage. He has given me a calling to share His love with international students. My life now has purpose! I am joyful!

If you seek for truth, you will find God!

(Abraham Zhang is a university lecturer in logistics and supply chain business management. Abraham and his wife are also ministry representatives of International Students Inc. in New Zealand.)

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20140104
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Jan-Mar 2014. CCMUSA.