Digging My Own Grave Chasing after Wealth
The Hakka ethnic group of Chinese, known to be diligent and perseverant, have a complicated culture. Historically, they have moved southwards, time and again, to flee from war and famine. Basically believing in anything—the sky, the land, the mountains, the sun, the moon, the stars, animals, plants and, in particular, their ancestors—they find faith in everything and everywhere. This is the culture I grew up in, so it was really difficult for me to believe in a One True God.
Hearing About God in Secondary School
In 1991 when I was in secondary school, due to poor lodging conditions at the school, a few of my friends and I rented an apartment together. Our landlord was a devout Christian. He told me about Jesus and how Jesus helped him quit his smoking habit of a few decades. I was shocked, for it was the first time I had heard of Jesus, so I did not understand. But the landlord was warmhearted and invited a pastor over to visit. The pastor’s sincerity, kind face, and smile deeply touched me. He started telling me how mysterious, amazing, and great our universe was. This appealed to me, as I was very interested in scientific knowledge about nature. He told me the story of the gospel of Christ—from our orderly universe, to the wise, transcendent Designer behind it all—the Creator God. On Sundays, I went to the pastor’s church to listen to sermons. This was how God sowed the seeds of the gospel in my heart. However, it could be said that I only heard of God back then.
All I Wanted Was Wealth
After graduation, my father found me a good job through his connections. At that time, my father rented a tiled mud house for our family. My mother asked me once, “Son, when will our family be able to live in a flat?” I answered without thinking, “Soon, and we won’t only have a flat to live in, we will have more than one!” Thus, I promised myself that I would work hard to make money. I had no interest in going to church and gradually strayed far from God.
At work, I met a hairstylist, who later became my girlfriend. We came up with a business plan to make money: to open a salon. In less than two years, we made enough money to invest in a bigger beauty and hair salon. I was ecstatic, feeling like I was edging close to success. In 1997, I invited my cousin to invest together in a top-tier luxury beauty and hair salon. The business really took off! I was carried away—and not even thinking of God, I placed a Guanyin statue on the counter in the entrance of the hair salon as my cousin did. However, the good times did not last.
In Deep Trouble and Pain
Around half a year after the opening of the salon, there was an incident. The shop manager that my cousin hired was a member of the Triad Society. Since business was good, the manager prompted my cousin to continue with the business on his own, and not to partner with me. My girlfriend learned of this and got into an argument with the manager, who called a gang of Triad members over to the salon. A knife fight ensued, and someone was hurt. As a result of this altercation, my family and my cousin’s family had to enter into negotiations, amid verbal abuse. We had to auction off our hair salon at a low price. I sold the salon that I had invested hundreds of thousands in for only tens of thousands, which left me deeply in debt. Then I lost my job as well. “When it rains, it pours!” Being in this difficult place, I started to doubt every aspect of life. My heart was exceedingly heavy and my spirit adrift.
Having lost the business, my girlfriend was always worried. She had violent tendencies, and she would hurt anyone who got into a fight with her, including me. My parents and my relatives advised me to break up with her. Not only did she refuse to break up, she planned to kill me and then commit suicide. She tried to stab the back of my head with a fruit knife, slash my throat with a razor, burn my house down with gasoline, and poison me with rat poison. But God protected me and none of her attempts succeeded. In the end, she tried several times to end her own life by jumping off a building, slashing her wrist, breathing toxic gas, and shocking herself with electricity. Time and again I saved her life, but I was in great pain and on the verge of a breakdown. The final straw happened when one of our former female colleagues at the salon called me for help in finding another job. Being a suspicious person, my girlfriend thought I was having an affair with this female colleague. Using a sharp blade, she slashed it across the face of the female colleague, almost cutting off her nose and ruining her face. I had to compensate the colleague, so I took out another loan, putting me even more in debt. In the end, my girlfriend was arrested and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. We lost contact, and I never saw her again. Through all of this, I was deeply in pain. On one rainy night, I looked into the darkness and cried, Where is God? Why am I suffering like this?
My Life in Chaos
Obstinately, I refused to accept reality and was still trying to make a comeback to pay my debts. Disregarding consequences, I discussed drug deals with my friend. He went abroad to find a supplier, while I looked for local buyers. We bought 50 grams of heroin in a drug deal and were caught redhanded by a plain clothes officer. During this time, China was cracking down on drugs, and any drug deal involving more than 50 grams was punishable by death. My friend and I were scared to the core, not knowing what to do. As it turned out, the buyer I had found was an undercover police operative who had made thorough plans to capture us. It was our first drug deal, and we had failed miserably! I never expected that my friend would be escorted by the officer into a police vehicle and sentenced to be executed, while I was brought to another vehicle and released after investigation. It was deemed that I could not be convicted. I jumped out of the vehicle and kept running, gasping for air with my heart pounding when I reached home.
I dared not tell my parents and pretended that nothing had happened. But my friend’s family started looking for me. Suspecting that I had conspired to murder their son with the undercover officer, they kidnapped me. I explained everything to them and begged them repeatedly to let me go. Finally, they agreed on the condition that I bring them to my parents, disclosing my address and the identity of my parents. I agreed and brought them to my home. After they left, my parents sensed that something had happened, so I told them the truth. My mother was so scared that she broke down and cried. My father was calmer and told me not to stay at home but to stay with our relatives abroad.
At that time, I dared not think about becoming rich, as I had almost lost my life chasing after wealth. I knew my future was bleak. Helpless and powerless, my life was a chaotic mess, and I had no idea what to do.
Forgiven by God’s Mercy
In the end, I made the biggest and best decision of my life—to return to church after all those years. Minister Dorcas and the brothers and sisters of the church enthusiastically cared for me and helped me. They prayed for me with fervor and encouraged me to rely on God for renewal. After prayer, I felt a kind of peace and joy that I had never experienced before, which chased away my fear. I flipped open the Bible that had collected dust for a long time and read the verse, “The Lord is my light and my salvation” (Psalms 27:1). I dropped to the ground with a loud thud and bowed to God a few dozen times. My head was swollen, but my tears were flowing, and my heart remorseful. I admitted my ignorance and shamelessness and the many mistakes and sins I had committed. My shame was beyond measure!
I asked God for mercy and forgiveness. Only then did I realize how much God loved me. He had not forsaken me but protected me in secret and waited for me to turn back to Him. Today, I know that God has forgiven me, because the Bible says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God is merciful and loving, and I thank Him for choosing me, a lowly and unworthy sinner, so that I may be made new in Christ. On April 12, 1998, I was baptized, and I wouldn’t dare leave God and His church ever again! I insist on attending church fellowship, actively participating in different ministries at church, and longing to understand the truth of the Bible. I study the Bible, pray, look to God each day, and receive the strength to walk in the right path. My life is being renewed and changed by the Holy Spirit, bit by bit.
All Glory to God
God graciously gave me a wonderful wife. We were married in 1999, and later God blessed us with a son and a daughter, who were both so clever and full of life. I am most grateful that my wife did not turn her back on me because of my past. We both worked, and she helped me pay off my debts. In 2003, with the encouragement and help from Minister Dorcas, I borrowed $20,000 and started my own business again. We started a company with only two people. By then, I had learned to rely on God instead of people, as the Bible says:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
“Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4).
By God’s protection and mercy, my company is now 19 years old and during these years we have seen the blessing and grace of God. Although we experienced fierce competition in the field, financial crisis, and global pandemic, our company still stands. At its peak, it was a company of around 100 people. We have set up a place of service in the company, so that we may worship God in our workplace. May all glory be to God.
In the past, I was full of pride and greed. Now, I dare not rely on my own thinking but on God in all things, as I fully understand my shortcomings and limitations. Money does not have a hold on me now. I know that money—and everything in this world—belongs to God. Even our lives are given by God. The Bible tells us that our lives are more important than money. Jesus says:
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:6–10).
Money is certainly the most useful thing in this world. It is also the biggest temptation to Christians. It is well said that “men cannot bring money into the grave; but money can bring men to their grave.”
I have promised before God that at a certain time I will set aside 51% of company profits as an offering to God, as having 51% means the controlling stake and decision-making power. God created and granted us our lives, our breath, our bodies, our souls, our intelligence, our abilities, our skills, and our years on earth. All that we have belongs to Him and offering back to Him is a test of our faith. The wisest king of Israel said: “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chronicles 29:14). God does not actually need anything from us; He simply wants to live in our hearts. When our hearts are consumed by money, money has become our idol, and we stop treating our Lord as God, and we stop glorifying Him. “What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalms 116:12–13).
Today, there are still a lot of people who do not know God, who still live under the darkness and power of Satan. They live a life of hardship, indulgence, deep pain, and meaninglessness. They need the gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation and grace of the Lord. I know in my heart that the gospel saves, and our mighty Lord will save all those who believe. I also know in my heart that it is the responsibility of all Christians, including myself, to spread the gospel. Thanks to the guidance of the Lord, besides managing my business, I am also receiving theological training from Global Enrichment Theological Seminary through online classes, in hopes of being a better vessel for God’s use. May God be glorified until the end of days! Hallelujah!