Good morning, dear sisters and brothers in Christ. My name is Susan, for some of you who may not know me. I have one 9-year old son Daniel. I thank God for this opportunity to stand here, sharing my story with all of you.
Back to 16 years ago, I immigrated to Canada from China. That time, I did not believe in God and had never had any contact with a Christian. Growing up in the communist China, I was taught at school that there had never been God in this world, all religions were superstition, we mankind can conquer nature, and everything depended on ourselves. My childhood was at the whole Culture Revolution, which is one of the darkest period in Chinese history. However, at home and by Chinese culture, we believe there is a God, we called it "Old Heaven Grandpa", old, serious, no smiling, with long white beard, scary and we could never reach. Whenever we cooked nice and tasty food, my mom or grandma always let one of my siblings put first bowl out and let the God eat it first. (That time, life was very hard and we barely had enough to eat.) So I grew up in this kind mixing environment.
In 1976, Chairman Mao, the late Chinese president died, and the Culture Revolution were finished. In 1978, Deng Xiao Ping was in power. China started reforming and opening the door to the world. One biggest thing was that the entrance exam for high education was back. That means anyone who passes the exam will go to college or university for the high education which is paid by government. (no student loans like here.) That time, the Chinese government and all the media in China called all the young people in the whole country to study hard for building better China. Knowledge is power. In 1984, I passed the exam with the highest marks at my county and went to the best university in my province (which is kind of like UBC here). My family, my whole high school and even my home town were proud of me. After 4 years, I graduated and was assigned to one of the import / export company which belongs to the government. That was the best job at that time. I was really very proud. Did I ever think about God? No. Only the uneducated people believe in God. That's the popular thought. Did I need God? No, I had the best job and never worried about the money, I was young, I was pretty. Why did I need God? I could handle everything by myself. Had I ever thought about where the mankind came from? No, I was taught that mankind came from monkey. However, the turning point came to my life.
In Sept. Of 1992, after getting married half a year, my first husband came to Canada for a business trip and decided to stay here, not going back to China. When I received his phone call that afternoon, I could not hold my tears in the office. We loved each other so much. We were a perfect match in all other people's eyes. Finally, he got his permanent residence and I came over in December of 1995. I had my first Christmas as his friends' home. His friend's mother, Gao Ma Ma is Christian. She tried very hard to take me to her church. Did I believe in God then? No, I just went over for a look. That's part of Canadian culture. That time, my life started getting hard. Canada is a completely different place for me. Everything is new and different. Even though I learned English in China, my English was still not so good like a Canadians'. That's a huge challenge. I needed to learn everything including driving. Did my dear husband help? Very little. When I asked him, "What is GST? PST?" "Why don't you even know this?" He turned away. He totally changed, did not talk to me, did not care about me, only urged me to go to church on Sundays by myself.
One day in 1996, when I went to work, he left me a note and moved out. (One year later, he hired a lawyer and divorced me.)That's not fair. How could he do this to me? I gave up my career, left my family and friends, bought the ticket with my own money, lost my Chinese residency, and came to Canada just for him. My world was shattered. My sky was falling. I was at the end of my ability. I cried, cried and cried. I could not sleep, I could not eat. I still had to go to work. I could not handle all these things by myself. I started calling my "Old Heaven Grandpa" God. He did not answer me. But the real God answered. He brought my two Chinese pastors to me, and sent Gao Ma Ma and other Christians to visit me, talk to me, call me, take me to church and Bible study groups, pray for me, take me to their homes for weekends, comfort me, wipe away my tears, warm up my heart, give me hope, guide me step by step to know Him, accept Him as my God, my Lord, My Saviour.
In October of 1996, I was baptized and became Christian. Two of my Christian friends gave me my first Chinese and English Bible as present. Since then, I experience God through reading the Bible and the people around me every day. My life and my values completely changed. God's words are the lamp in front of my feet, the light on my paths. I trust in Him. I believe He loves me no matter who I am or what I have done. I prayed to God to help me when I could not sleep, when I almost missed the bus, when I could not forgive my husband. God is so amazing. He is always there with me. In those days, the long rainy winter was horrible to me. I always felt so sad and depressed. One day when I was sitting on the bus to work, I read "give thanks in all circumstances". I asked God, "What? Do you want me to thank for this depressing day?" God opened my eyes to see the evergreen trees, the clean, fresh air; there is always enough water here. Since then, I have never been depressed in raining season.
Then, in 2002 I had my son Daniel. When Daniel was three month old, his father left us. At the bible study, the pastor's wife asked me, "What are you going to do? How are you going to handle the life with a baby and no income?" I said, "God must have His own way for us if He give my son to me. Hagar was sent away by Abraham with only a bag of bread and a bag of water. God still let her son become a big nation. I am not Hagar. I am God's daughter." "Good, you have this big faith," she smiled.
Now looking back in the past nine years, I know God is always with us. He provides for us. He guides us. He protects us. In the spring of 2004, we started coming to Home Church due to my Chinese Church service was in the afternoon, which was Daniel's nap time. Pastor Jim and Babette have been always loved us. They accept me as who I am, never judge, always encourage me. I told them once that I don't have any family here in this country. They sincerely looked at my eyes with love, said "Susan, we are your family. Home Church is your family." I always thank God for Pastor Jim and his family, thank God for all of you, my dear sisters and brothers at Home Church. I thank you for all your love, care, kindness, generosity, prayer and help in the past 7 years.
Especially last November, our house was broken in and we were robbed by thief. My faith has never been so low. It is you, my dear pastor, it is you, my dear sisters and brothers, helped us to take the wrecked door off, put on a new door, new locks, put on Christmas lights on our cherry tree (this is the first time we have ever had Christmas lights outside, we were so surprised), bought me and Daniel Christmas presents and gift cards, and delivered food hamper with to us. We also received two envelopes with cash. Some of you didn't let me know your names. All your goods not only met our needs and gave us our best Christmas but also helped our faith grow. You obey God, love us, right hands do the good deeds, not letting your left hands know. You like to be used by God to share your time, your talent and your money generously with us. I can see God through you. I can feel God through you. Thank you all, my dear Home Church Family! God bless all of you abundantly in 2012!