Updated: Sep 14
When I left my family in Asia and came to Palmerston North on my own to study for my PhD, it was really a tough time for me. I missed them badly, worried a lot about IELTS scores, and I sometimes simply shed tears. One Sunday morning when I was wandering aimlessly around the City’s Square, I somehow entered a local church and was immediately stunned by the sense of holiness, the beautiful hymns, and the joyful people. I was so scared by my feelings because I was educated as an atheist, so I hastily and quietly left the church without bothering to think further. I then managed to score high enough in the IELTS and enrolled as a PhD student at Massey University, so later my husband and my daughter finally joined me.
I was happy to be able to unite with my family. However, my husband’s feelings when he first came to New Zealand could be summed up with a single word – hesitant! Feeling lost in his life puzzled him every day. The reason for this was that he didn’t receive the anticipated joy and happiness after he achieved each of the goals he wanted to achieve, but he just felt lost instead. Things were just meaningless. The pressure was increasing every day, but with decreasing happiness. He was very frustrated and anxious and didn’t really know that it was still necessary to establish new goals in his life.
My husband could not find a job here, and my daughter was homesick away from her friends in this unfamiliar culture. Soon I was struggling to decide whether I should stay or leave. I then remembered Isaac and Cecily telling us the cross and hell story through a magic paper origami in the Christmas party at Terry and Jenny’s home. Suddenly I realized that my life is hell without the cross, and I cannot feel real peace or joy without faith in God. From then on, I decided to learn more about God. I joined the bible study group held by Isaac and Victoria at Massey University, and I also went to church on Sundays. But despite all these activities, deep in my heart, I still felt like an outsider and bystander, because I doubted myself constantly and whether I was a true believer. I couldn’t answer this question using the knowledge in my head until I experienced it. Amazingly my prayer was heard and answered by God. My husband got a stable job at a local store and my daughter began to make new friends at school. I also got heaps of practical help from Christian friends during the time my second daughter was born. I felt that I was loved and began to enjoy life.
My husband also had opportunities to hear the gospel through ISM activities at Massey University. Isaac kept sharing the good news of Jesus to him, which helped him gradually feel the problem of sin. We praise the Lord for His mercy; He bore the punishment for our sins on the cross. We felt the presence of the Lord, and our life started to change. One day when my husband was shopping in the town centre, he suddenly felt like his old self was living in a prison because of his sins – but as the Lord shouldered the burden of his sins, he felt light as if he had been released from jail. From the bottom of his heart, he had an unprecedented sense of joy, calm and satisfaction. It was obvious to my husband that he was free! From then on, he has found that the sky is bluer, the air is fresher, the birds’ singing is much sweeter, and he can even walk with a faster pace!
A few months later, we were unexpectedly required to go back to my hometown to say goodbye to my father-in-law, who was in serious physical and emotional pain from a terminal illness. Still carrying our suitcases after a long and problem-ridden journey, my husband, two daughters and myself finally arrived at a local hospital in the late evening. Our eyes simply flooded with tears when we finally reached the hospital bed of our father. We thank God for His caring protection during the journey, and we can bring our 8 months old daughter to her granddad for the first time.
At that moment Isaac just emailed and reminded us to share the love of the Lord with our father. Very late one evening when our father was tossing and turning and couldn’t fall asleep, my husband and I introduced the works and teachings of the Lord to him. From that evening on, our father stopped having rage outbursts and became very calm. Finally, he peacefully received his final moment. From this point onwards, my entire family believed that our father wasn’t suffering any more, and that he was satisfied and was at peace. Oh, wonderful loving Lord, we give our thanks to You!
When our father passed away in peace upon hearing the gospel from us for the first time, we were totally convinced that God is there for real, as our guardian through hard times who saved us from our sins. We thank God that we were able to be with our father until the end of his life, and we were even able to organize and attend his funeral. All this was possible thanks to the grace of the Lord. My husband, elder daughter and I have all eventually been baptized, and we are now settled in New Zealand. Thank God for His everlasting love, and for bringing us back home. May all the glory be to Him!
Jenny* Massey University PhD Graduate (Palmerston North)
*name changed for privacy