Part of a Greater Story
Life is a journey not meant to be traveled alone— we are all part of a greater story written by the Author of life. Together, let’s share our milestones, celebrate the triumphs, grieve the losses, and rejoice in the hope of the One who holds all of our stories in His loving hands.
These are our stories about the author and perfecter of our faith: Jesus.
All day long I will tell the wonderful things you do to save your people. But you have done much more than I could possibly know. I will praise you, LORD God, for your mighty deeds and your power to save. Psalm 71:15-16
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My mom has been a single mom since my birth and although she was Christian and I remember going to church as a young child with my family on Sundays, she never wanted to impose any religion on me. I remember praying and talking to God on my own ever since I was a child and I chose to get baptized twice: the first time when I was twelve years old into a Catholic church since I attended Catholic schools, and a second time when I was sixteen and wanted to be baptized by immersion into a protestant church. I love the fact that my mom let me choose my own belief and she never imposed it on me. God chose me first and I chose Him too.
I think God speaks to me on a daily basis and sometimes warns me. There are times when I can feel something is wrong even though I don’t know exactly what, but it drives me into prayer. When I was eight years old a friend of my mother came to our home very late at night and said he was in the neighborhood and just wanted to come say “Hi”. I instantly had a strange feeling. I was not at ease and told my mom that I didn't think it was a good idea to let this person stay with us. I didn’t have a good feeling about it but my mom insisted on letting this person stay since she knew him. The next day, he said that he would go out to get us something for breakfast. Again, I told my mom that he was lying, that he will leave but won’t come back and that he stole something from us. My mom was very upset and told me that I should never say such things about people I didn’t know. He left and minutes then hours went by, and he never came back. My mom then discovered that her jewelry and watch were gone. She looked at me and asked, “How did you know?” I replied, “I don’t know mom, I just knew and I am sure that was the Holy Spirit.”
I will always remember every single time I needed a miracle and God showed up. So many times I take His grace and mercy for granted. I regret that but I have learned from it and today I do my best to acknowledge His grace and be thankful everyday.
The verse I want to hold close to my heart is Ephesians 20:3, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” I choose to put this verse on my necklace because I want to remind myself of God’s promise when I face struggles in life. Sometimes we believe that God can do everything, but we don’t really believe it; we forget that God is able to do extraordinary things when we are in the most difficult circumstances. I want a reminder of the kind of God I have, the One who is able to do immeasurably more, and I want to touch this necklace, feel this necklace, and remind myself that with Him, anything is possible.
GOD WAS PREPARING SOMEONE SPECIAL
Even though God had assured me twice not to worry about my future marriage, I was still waiting and for a while, there didn’t seem to be anyone on the horizon.
Up until that point, there were two people in my life that emotionally I never had closure with. Even though it had been over a decade since I had seen either one of them, from time to time they would still cross my mind. Thoughts of what-if and what-could-have-been always weighed down my heart.
It was during this time of waiting that I unexpectedly had the opportunity to meet up with both of these people. One person was my crush from high school and we had lost contact for over ten years. I remember when we reconnected and finally met up again for lunch, I had a surprising realization: for way too long, I’ve been idolizing this person in my heart. Before I became a Christian, I didn’t think it was a problem to idolize a person— after all, everyone had movie star idols; however, after I started reading the Bible, I realize what idolatry really meant and it is a sin. So, that day at lunch, it became clear to me that God was telling me to let go.
I am thankful that God gave me these opportunities to heal and finally move on. God gave me closure with both of these two people from my past and things finally seemed to be moving forward. At the time, I felt that this must be a sign that the person God was preparing for me was getting close.
Then one day, I met a guy. So right away there were some things about him that weren’t ideal but nobody is perfect right…?
GOD WAS PREPARING SOMEONE SPECIAL
God told me twice not to worry about my marriage. The first time was before I became a Christian.
During my early 20s, I spent a lot of time partying and clubbing. I felt like I had to go because all my friends went clubbing and if I didn’t, there wouldn’t be anyone to hang out with. I was trying to figure out who I was. I enjoyed dancing, being with my friends, and I met many people, but deep down I didn’t want the clubbing life— it felt very empty.
I struggled with dating and my roommate tried giving me all these dating tips; she would bring me a book and tell me, “Susan, you’ve got to read this! This book is the Bible of dating”. I tried this, I tried that, but nothing seemed to work. I vividly remember one time when two of my well-intentioned friends had a discussion over the topic “why Susan doesn’t have a boyfriend”. One argued that it was because of my weight while another argued it was because of my acne. Sitting there listening to their discussion made me sad at first, but then I realized that if the “problem” of my singleness was simply because of my physical appearance, then I guess it wasn’t as bad as if there was something fundamentally wrong with me. I thought to myself, I could change those issues if I wanted to…
Though I Doubted, God Answered
“When God wants your attention, He does whatever it takes to get you to fix your eyes on Him. I immigrated to the United States when I was 18. Everything was different— the environment, the language, the culture. I was anxious about all the change. I felt powerless because my English was so poor, so I just avoided speaking. But I also desperately wanted to be financially self-sufficient. I was so upset because I wanted a job so badly but I didn’t have a driver’s license and my English was very broken.
One night before going to sleep, a thought came into my heart, Why don’t you pray about it? At first, I doubted. What can a prayer do in my situation? But I remembered the way my grandma taught me how to pray when I was younger. So, I knelt on my bed and simply said, ‘Hi Jesus, I really want a job, but I don’t really speak fluent in English and I can’t drive yet. I don’t know what to do. Please look after my family back in Taiwan. Good night. Amen.’
The next morning, I woke up early while my sister was still sleeping. I went out to get the mail and saw a lady waving and smiling at me. She walked over, introduced herself, and explained that she knows my aunt from church and saw us there the past Sunday during service. She had a company that needed extra help and asked if I would like to work. I was shocked, ‘But my English is not very good and I don’t have a car.’ She replied, ‘It’s ok! I can teach you English and since we are neighbors, I can give you a ride.’ I was still in shock when she said I could start the job that very same day if I was available. I couldn’t believe it but replied an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’
I only helped for a couple of hours that first day, but she was extremely nice and patient. When I got back home later that day my sister was wondering where I went the whole morning. I told her about how I got a job she couldn’t believe it!
This is how I got my first job in the states and this was also my first answered prayer from God and the beginning of my faith journey. He truly is a faithful God! He doesn’t always give me what I want, but He always gives what is best for me.”
I am First His Son
I’ve been living in New York City for over three years now, and during this time I studied in a master's program and also worked full-time at a startup company. I’m sure you can imagine just how crazy busy life was for me!
Even though the last three years have been very fruitful and enriching for me, it was also very stressful and isolating. Though I went to church every week, I didn’t join any small groups or develop any deep relationships with other people in the church the way I used to back in Taiwan.
As a man, I thought I needed to keep all of my burdens to myself and not bother anyone else around me with my struggles. Though I felt I was carrying a heavy weight, I didn't share this with my friends and sometimes, I didn't even know how to share the pressure and stress I felt with my wife. Perhaps this was also due to my Asian cultural background that has always emphasized that a man must be able to stand on his own and carry his own weight.
But thank God, He did not leave me there. A few months ago, God led me to a church retreat exclusively for men. It was my very first time joining this kind of church event in New York and I wasn’t sure what to expect. During the three-day retreat, God spoke to me and reminded me that I am His son, I am loved, and my aim is to please Him. Before I become a man, I need to first learn how to be His son. It was a powerful spiritual breakthrough that released a lot of the burdens I’ve been carrying.
I was also surprised that my teammates, all of whom I met for the first time at this retreat, were so honest and open in sharing their struggles, pains, bad habits, and stories with me. It really encouraged me to share my own needs and ask them to pray for me as well.
God’s message to me was loud and clear: I’ve got a TEAM! My wife, my church, my brothers, and most importantly, Jesus 🔥
Each of us who went on this amazing retreat are all now back to our “normal” lives, facing the many challenges of everyday life; nevertheless, I know that I am not alone and I have a team that I can always feel safe to share and pray with. Now my wife and I aren’t just simply attending church every Sunday, we’ve also joined the service team, a weekly small group, and are developing deeper relationships with other people in the church.
And a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” - Matthew 3:17
An Answered Prayer,
Ten Years in the Making
I never really thought I had much of a faith story to share; there was never any dramatic conversion, the skies didn’t open, no voices spoke to me, and I wasn’t prophesied to or cured of terminal diseases. My earliest experiences of divine intervention consisted mainly of mom praying for parking spots and me sobbing to the heavens that my lost necklace or misplaced sunglasses would rematerialize— oh pretty please, Amen!
I will have you know that these prayers were often answered, though they hardly seemed like worthy testimonies because who’s to say we didn’t just get lucky, or that I’ve at last outgrown my absent-mindedness? And it seemed ridiculous to claim that an almighty Creator would possibly consider sparing His time and grace over such trivial things.
When I received my first job offer, the jury is still out on whether I fully comprehended what was happening. Within seconds, I decided to uproot my life and move to a city I had never heard of before. Not having a clue where exactly this city was or how to pronounce its name correctly or even the fact that there was still a chance of heavy snow in April didn’t faze me. Maybe it was because my mom was equally nonchalant about me moving halfway across the world to what we would later come to know as the closest thing to a polar vortex without actually being in the Arctic.
I suppose my mom’s composure wasn’t entirely without basis though; she had suddenly recalled that one of her closest childhood friends from church had lived in this city for decades. In the most unlikely of places and in perhaps my greatest hour (or rather, months, which then turned into years) of need, I was taken in by a God-loving surrogate family that saw me through my most formative years in adulthood. Call it luck or another happy coincidence, but the way that the stars seemed to align was uncanny to say the least…
GOD WAS PREPARING SOMEONE SPECIAL
The second time God told me not to worry about my marriage was during a turning point in my faith journey.
After a year-long, unsuccessful job hunt in northern California, I felt very discouraged and hopeless. I’d gotten an interview at my dream job, but was turned down before the interview was even officially over.
Months later, I was finally making ends meet with two part-time jobs. Then, within the span of a single week, I lost both jobs. On Monday of that week, I was fired from one job and two days later, I was told by the director of my other job that the program had lost its funding and would be shutting down. I couldn’t believe it, I went from two jobs to none in three days.
But, on Friday of that same week, something miraculous happened. The dream job that I had interviewed for but was initially turned away from, contacted me with another position! It was one of the craziest weeks of my life, losing two jobs and then getting my dream job all within the same week!
During that time, a girl I’d met at a friend’s dinner party texted me out of the blue and invited me to join a Bible study. I felt something divine was going on in my life and I didn’t know how to explain it, so I just couldn’t say no. The Bible study turned out to be very intense. There was a lot of pressure and we were quizzed on what we read and learned. It was difficult for me in the beginning but before long, I completely fell in love with His words.
When I opened the Bible, it felt like magic. These words, written thousands of years ago seemed to come alive to me. And not only did it feel alive, but it was relevant to my life. The word of God felt so personal…
I will be with you and bless you
“My most memorable experience in my faith journey was in 2016. I had just graduated from NYU so I was seeking whether it was God’s will for me to stay in New York or go back to Taiwan. I prayed hard for about three months. During that time, I read lots of passages in the Bible that said ‘live here’ or ‘stay in this land.’ This was my first time seeking God’s will so seriously. I was so torn! I totally asked God nine times whether He wants me to stay here in the U.S. or go back to Taiwan. The seventh time, the word was clear; the verse literally said, ‘Live here as a foreigner, and I will be with you and bless you.’ (Genesis 26:3) Finally, I decided to trust God and stay in New York by myself.
After deciding to obey God’s will, I faced many difficulties. Most of my friends left and move back to their own countries. When my best friend from church moved away, I cried for four days. I felt very lonely during that time. Also, my parents didn’t believe that it was God’s will for me to stay in New York, they were against it at that time and they thought it was my own will to stay here. But God’s presence of peace filled me; I always turned to His words to find strength again.
By May of that year I almost couldn’t pay my rent. I knelt and prayed in desperation, ‘God, you wanted me to stay here, you have to make a way for me.’ A few days later, my aunt gave me a big red envelope to congratulate me on my graduation. Guess what? The amount she gave me was EXACTLY the amount I needed for my rent. God is amazing! He knows all our needs! After that miracle, God also made a way for me to successfully get an O-1 visa so I could stay here legally. I performed a recital in Carnegie Hall and I got a personal interview on TV; I know none of this was because of my own merit or effort alone, God made the way. God also provided an awesome godly husband for me. With God, all things are possible! I can truly testify He is a faithful provider— in life’s most uncertain moments He is with me, and He blesses me!