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3. Walking with God

Chapter 3

Walking With God

The beginning of my walk with God

From that point on, I began to experience God through one mira­cle after another. My faith was being confirmed by these amazing miracles even in the ways in which God supplied my needs. I once had a can of dried turnips that simply refused to go empty. No matter how much turnip I ate, the supply would not be exhausted. It was not until later when I had gotten so sick of turnips that God finally stopped the supply. Later on I read a similar account in 1 Kings 17:15-16: “Her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of Yahweh which He spoke through Elijah.” This was just one of many miracles I had experienced. I also met some mighty men of God through whom God performed great miracles. (But that is a long story in itself, and I will skip it for lack of time.) When people ask me how I know that God is real, I would tell them, “After having experienced so many miracles, how can I not know?”

After two and a half years, one day I asked God, “What would You like me to do? If You want me to stay in China, I would be glad to stay, but please tell me what to do.”

In fact I could not do much. Every job in China was controlled by the government; you couldn’t even sell newspapers without govern­ment per­mission. Twice I applied to leave China but they would not give me a visa.

My health was getting weaker and weaker because of malnutrition. One day I felt a cold sweat, and I knew it could be a sign of tuberculo­sis, the disease that had struck my mother so severely that one of her lungs had to be removed. I went for a free X-ray and was told that I had a spot in one of my lungs. But I had no money to buy food, never mind medication. To get a second opinion, I went to another hospital for another X-ray, but the results were the same. There they issued me a card with a picture of two lungs, on which was a mark that indicated the location of my spot. This card gave me the freedom to travel throughout China with very little government restrict­ion. I could even visit my uncle in Beijing. Why? Because every time I was questioned, I would produce this card and they would let me go. Nobody wanted to come close to me because everyone thought I had tubercu­losis. This little card was probably one reason I was eventually allowed to leave China.

God spoke to me in an audible voice

One day I was praying in my room when I heard a voice say to me, “I will take you out of China.” So clear and distinct was the voice that I turned around to see who was speaking to me. I saw nobody in the room. This was the first time—and not the last time—God spoke to me in an audible voice. (Later on I came upon this statement in Isaiah 30:21, “And you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way. Walk in it.’”) Immediately after receiving this message from God, I started to pack my bags. Some brothers and sisters thought I had received an exit visa, but I told them, “No, I haven’t received anything yet, but God Himself told me that He will take me out of China!”

The Bible gives many similar accounts of the Lord speaking to His people. In the book of Acts, the Lord spoke to Paul on several occas­ions. But the standard of Christianity today has become so mediocre that these experiences are now considered unusual or even strange. The problem lies precisely in the area of commitment: Today we have multi­tudes of lukewarm, half-committed churchgoers, but few totally committed Christians. The church in the Western world has become wishy-washy. It costs nothing to become a Christian. The statement, “Take up your cross and follow me,” has become meaning­less to Christians in the West. This cheap diluted salvation will never help you to experience God or to know firsthand that God is real. But when you are totally com­mitted to Him, you will experience His mira­culous power, especially when you find yourself in a difficult or critical situation. That is why the Christians in China experience miracles all the time. Being a Christ­ian in China takes total commitment because it will cost you your life. For me to become a Christian in China required my total commitment.

How God took me out of China

Through one miracle after another, God opened the way for me to get out of China. But when the visa was finally granted, I had no money to buy a ticket to leave the country. And how God provided! Out of the blue, my uncle sent me a sum of money even though he had never sent me money before. He didn’t even know I was leaving the country. He had received the money from my father which he didn’t want to accept, so he sent it to me just when I was about to leave the country. God’s timing is perfect!

But I soon ran into another problem. Though I had a visa to leave China, I could not enter Hong Kong. Because Hong Kong had too many refug­ees, the British authorities would not grant me entry unless I could prove I was going to another country. The problem dragged on for a long time, and my exit visa was about to expire. The Swiss consul phoned the British consul to request a visa on my behalf, but that too was refused.

I went before God and told Him that according to the Bible, any door that He opens, no one can close. The next day I went to the British con­sulate. The person at the counter asked me what I wanted, and I told him I wanted a visa to enter Hong Kong. He took my pass­port and asked me to wait. Then he came back with my papers and asked me how long I was planning to stay in Hong Kong. I asked for one month. Surprisingly, a visa was granted immediately.

When I crossed the bridge from Shenzhen to Hong Kong, the British border officer asked me, “Do you speak English?” I said, “Yes”.

He said, “Your visa is very unusual.”

I asked him what was unusual about a one-month visa.

He said, “No, you’ve got more than a month! They gave you un­lim­ited stay in Hong Kong! I myself have never seen this kind of visa!”

I asked him what I was supposed to do, and he said, “Well, you can stay in Hong Kong as long as you like!”

I ended up staying in Hong Kong for nine months, and even got a Hong Kong CI (Certificate of Identity). If this was not of God’s arrange­ment, how would you explain this?

My search for employment

In Hong Kong I asked God, “Now that I’m here, what would You like me to do?” He gave me clear indication that I was to go to Europe. But how could I get the money to go to Europe without a job?

In the 1950s, Hong Kong had tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees. How could I compete with them for a job? But God’s ways are amazing. One day I came across a job opening for someone to trans­late from English to Chinese, and from Chinese to English. I immed­iately ap­plied for this high-paying government job. On the day of the interview, I saw that many other applicants were competing for the job. I took the oral and written examinations, and later received a letter offering me the job.

Then God put me to the next test. It turned out that it was a per­manent job whereas I only wanted to work temporarily and then leave for Europe. I was struggling within myself deciding whether to tell the employment officer of my situation. I knew I would lose my job if I did. When I fin­ally decided to be honest, I said to the Lord, “You have done so many miracles. If it is Your will for me to keep this job, I will certainly have it regardless of the conditions of employment.”

I wrote a letter thanking the employment officer for accepting me. But I also told him that as a Christian I had to be honest about my sit­uation: I only intended to work one or two years before setting out for Europe. He wrote in reply, “Thank you for your honesty but we are looking for a permanent staff member. Unless you reconsider and are prepared to work longer than one or two years, we regret that the job will be offered to some­one else.” I had no choice but to tell him to give the job to someone else.

After making that decision, I got a scolding from the Christians who were staying at the Lutheran Home where I was staying: “That’s foolish! Don’t you know how many refugees are struggling in Hong Kong?” One of those who scolded me had been an elder of our Shang­hai church many years earlier. He said, “Young people don’t know the real­ities of life. You get a good job and you turn it down. Look at me, I’m over fifty. I’ve been working at the same gas company for over thirty years, and what do I get? Just a bit more than what you were offered. Imagine, a young man gets this kind of money! You’re out of your mind for turning it down!” So I got a good scolding from them. I didn’t say anything to defend myself but simply committed the matter to God.

I was back to square one, still without a job and still uncertain as to how I would get the money to go to Europe. A missionary school of­fered me a job as an English teacher but the pay was so low that even if I worked there for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t be able to save enough to go to Europe. Eventually that job didn’t materialize either.

Hong Kong had many ships, so I approached some ship captains to ask if they needed a deck hand or someone to clean the cabins. The cap­tains were nice to me but they could not hire me because they had sufficient crew. But God had a plan for me; He was only testing my faith.

God’s miraculous provision

Meanwhile, across the Pacific, on the west coast of the United States, in the state of Oregon, a woman was kneeling in prayer. God said to her, “Go to Hong Kong because I have a job for you to do there.” She was around fifty-five years old and belonged to a wealthy family. She had never been outside the United States. For her to go to Hong Kong was like going to the moon.

She said to her husband, “When I was praying today, the Lord told me to go to Hong Kong.” Her husband, also a fine Christian, said to her, “If the Lord wants you to go to Hong Kong, go!”

She then went before God and asked what she was to do in Hong Kong. The Lord simply said, “Go to Hong Kong and there I will tell you what to do.” (One of the principles of the Christian life is that God leads us one step at a time.) So she journeyed to Hong Kong and stayed at the Lutheran Home where I was staying. Every day for sever­al weeks, she kept on asking the Lord what He wanted her to do.

During my quiet time one day, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door and there was this woman standing before me. She said, “The Lord has been speaking to me, and has instructed me to buy you a ticket to Europe.” I expressed my appreciation, but I asked her to pray more about the matter. She quickly answered, “No! The Lord has made it very clear to me!”

A few days later she returned and asked me if I had booked the tic­ket. When I said no, she said, “Book the ticket. I am now very definite as to why God had sent me here. He has given me a job to do, and it is to send you to Europe. Book the ticket without delay!”


Eric Chang in Hong Kong 1956


It was a Friday. From my daily reading of the newspa­pers, I knew the routes, fares, and schedules for all the ships leav­ing Hong Kong for Eur­ope. I also knew that the lowest fare to Eur­ope was for a parti­cular ship that was to leave the following Tues­day. After the woman had kindly given me a cheque for the right sum, I went straight­away to the shipping agent to book a place on the ship. But when I got there, I was told that the fare had increased 20% due to the fight­ing at the Suez Canal (1956). The canal had been shut down because of the war, and no one knew whe­ther it would be navigable in a month’s time when the ship was expected to arrive in the region. If not, it would have to take the much longer route around South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. I asked the agent if the extra 20% would be refunded if the ship was eventually able to go through the canal. He was unsure but said that a refund was un­likely because of the higher cost of insurance for a ship going through the Suez immediately after the war (because of the dan­ger from sunk­en ships and floating mines). A clause was attached to the ticket stating: “In view of the situation at the Suez, the shipping company retains the right to keep all or part of the additional 20%, and any decision on this would be made solely at the company’s discretion.” It was already Friday, and the ship was going to leave on Tuesday. How was I going to get the extra money?

When I returned to the Lutheran Home, the American woman asked me if I had bought the ticket. When I told her about the 20% increase, she exclaimed, “Praise the Lord! Everything’s fine! While you were away, I got a cable from my husband informing me that he had just sent more money. He didn’t know why, but God had in­structed him to send you this extra money. He felt that you were going to need it. Here’s the mon­ey. Go and get your ticket!”

Praise God for His people who know how to walk with Him! I came all the way from China, and God sent someone all the way from the United States to meet me in Hong Kong to send me to Europe! How do we understand this? Is it a mere coincidence? God is so real and amaz­ing. His timing is impecca­ble. I left Hong Kong on Tuesday, and the woman returned to the United States on Wednesday.

My voyage to Europe

The ship was a freighter that carried only twelve passengers. I shared a cabin with a man from Hong Kong who was travelling to Singapore. As the ship was getting closer and closer to his destination, and as the Singapore skyline was looming larger and larger, he knelt down with me and committed his life to the Lord!

For the rest of my journey to Europe, I had the whole cabin to myself, so I was able to get some badly-needed rest and to recuperate from my weak­ness. On the freighter we all travelled first class. With the good, nutritious food that I ate on the ship, and with the peaceful rest that I enjoyed, God was restoring my health.

A labor strike in Burma kept the ship stranded there for a month, waiting for the cargo that it was to transport to Europe. As a result, I spent two whole months on the ship for the price of a regular journey. My health was restored by the time I had reached Europe. The Lord really knows our needs.

During the voyage, the passengers were discussing among them­selves whether the shipping company would refund the 20% of the ticket we had paid for. They asked for my opinion, and I told them I was absolutely sure I would be refunded the mon­ey. They were puz­zled by my answer and asked me how I knew. I could not explain it to them, but I knew from the Lord that I would get back the 20%.

When we arrived in Europe, we got off the ship and went straight­away to the shipping company’s office. The agent promptly gave me a cheque for the 20%. The next person was expecting a cheque as well, but the agent refused to give him anything because, as stated in the clause, the refund was entirely at the discretion of the compa­ny. My ten fellow passengers spent a whole day at the office trying to get back their 20%, in vain.

Something was curious about my 20% refund. I paid the fare in Hong Kong in U.S. dollars, and received the refund in Yugoslavia. But my refund was neither in Hong Kong dollars, nor in American dollars, nor in Yugoslav dinars, but in British pounds! All this was planned by God, as I would later find out.

My arrival in Europe

After arriving in Europe, I immediately visited my mother in Switzer­land; she had just had a near-fatal operation. I waited on the Lord to see what I should do in Europe. One day I went to Zurich to visit the president of the Bank of Switzerland, the gentleman whose signature was found on the back of every Swiss bank note. (Somebody in Hong Kong had given me his name and address.) It turned out that he was a very fine Christian; his whole family were fine and humble people.

When I was boarding a train to leave Zurich, his wife handed me a magazine so that I would have something to read on the journey. I accepted the magazine and thanked her. On the back cover was an adver­tisement of a Bible college. I said to myself, maybe I should apply to this Bible college.

I didn’t know what God wanted me to do. At first I wanted to study engineering, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it would be better to study at a Bible college before considering any­thing else. I cut out the ad and applied to this Bible college in Scotland. It was not until I was accepted by the college that I knew why my refund cheque was in British pounds. God had already foreseen that I would be going to this Bible college in the United Kingdom. When I paid the school fees with the cheque, it was exactly enough to cover my first term. God had worked out everything in advance.

God provided for all my needs

God continued to work in my life in amazing ways. When I arrived in England, I knew no one. Because I was not allowed to work, I had to look to God to supply my needs for every school term. God tests our faith from time to time. Towards my final term in the Bible college, I had no more money to pay the school fees. I counted the money in my pocket, and realized that I would be in debt if I stayed another two or three days. What was I to do? The Bible says we must owe no man anything except love (Romans 13:8). I didn’t want to owe anything to anyone, and that included the Bible college.

I told the registrar that I was quitting college because I could not pay the fees. He put his arm around my shoulder and said, “Eric, we don’t consider you to be in debt—at least not until the last day of the term.”

Then I said, “Mr. Williamson, if God doesn’t provide for me at the start of the term, how would I know that He will provide for me at the end of the term? I would be in debt by then, and that would be against the Biblical principle.” He pleaded with me to stay, but I told him I had to go. The diploma was unimportant to me.

I returned to my room upstairs and thanked the Lord for giving me a chance to study at the Bible college. If it was His will for me to go, I would gladly accept His will. I opened my writing pad to write some farewell letters, and what did I see inside? A bundle of brand new one-pound notes! I thought I was daydreaming. I counted the bank notes, and sure enough it was exactly enough to cover the expenses for the final term! I had never experienced anything like this before.

I went back downstairs to Mr. Williamson who must have been expecting a farewell handshake from me. You can imagine his surprise when I handed him the bank notes instead. After I explained every­thing to him, he said to me, “Eric, in this Bible college we have seen some truly amazing things happen­ing in your life.”

Recent events

I will skip over the many years that had elapsed since my student days, and the many, many things God had done during that period. I wish to men­tion one last incident that took place only recently. This will demonstrate how the living God guides His people when they walk with Him.

Before going to that example, I could perhaps mention something that happened recently (in 1985). As I was driving to town one day, I stopped at an intersection near my home in Canada. In Canada, when a car reaches a stop sign at a 4-way stop, it must come to a complete halt. Whoever stops first has the right to cross first. After coming to a complete stop, I was about to accelerate when God’s voice clearly spoke to me, “Don’t move!” So I stopped. Sure enough, a bus streaked across the intersection in clear violation of the law. The driver not only ignored the stop sign, he also failed to stop at the bus stop located just before the stop sign. Had I accelerated, the bus would have smashed right into my car. This was not the only time the Lord saved my life.

I come to the final example. For one reason or another, in recent months, several brothers and sisters in our churches have been in a situation in which a parent had either died or had been hospital­ized in a critical condition. One of them was a full-time sister coworker in our Toronto church. Her father had diabetes, which led to further compli­cations with his kidneys, forcing him to undergo regular dialy­sis. One day this sister gave me an urgent phone call: “I just received a long-distance call telling me that my father’s condition is worsening. But nobody, not even the doctors, knows if the situation is life-threaten­ing. Should I go home?” I told her to look to the Lord herself. After waiting before the Lord, I received an indication from Him that her father was about to die. I said to her, “Return to Malaysia as soon as possible so that you can witness to your father before he passes away.” She immediately took the warning and caught the first availa­ble flight to Malaysia. When she arrived, her father seemed to be in relatively good physical condition. She had a chance to witness to him for two or three days. Being a nurse herself, she knew something about his medical problems. Seeing that his condition was good, she went out to visit some brothers and sisters who had returned to Kuala Lum­pur from Montreal. But while she was out, her father died. His death was so sudden that she was caught by surprise. But God had already granted me to know that her father would not survive for long; that was why I told her to go home immediately.

A similar type of incident occurred shortly afterwards. A brother in Canada received an urgent call from Hong Kong informing him that his father was dying from a heart attack. This brother quickly called me to ask me what he should do. God immediately gave me a message: his fat­her will not die. I conveyed the Lord’s message to this brother but he gave further explanation, saying that the doctors regarded his father’s condition as extremely critical. But I said to him, “The Lord said your father will not die!” True to God’s words, the father is still alive to this day, many years later.

When you walk with the Lord, He will reveal His secrets to you (e.g., Amos 3:7; Daniel 2:19,22,28,30). In both these cases, the mess­age that I received from God was open to examination. Its out­come would immediately verify whether I was a false prophet or not. Unlike so many fortune tellers, I did not resort to ambiguous predict­ions that can be fulfilled irrespective of the outcome. On the contrary, God’s words spoken to me and through me were so clear and unambig­uous that they could be tested and verified.

Conclusion

God’s greatness is amazing. I have shared only a small fraction of His amazing deeds, but even these few examples can hardly be ac­counted for by any human explanation. I could have given many more exam­ples but our time has run out.

Now you can see that my becoming a Christian is inseparable from my serving God. I had no choice but to serve Him because of what I had promised Him. To be honest, there were times when I tried to run away, but God would always remind me of my promise to Him. Through all these years, He has kept me on the right track so that I have been able to serve Him by His grace.

Some of you may ask, “Why is God so real to you? Why don’t we experience the same things?” The secret is nothing more than this: If you are totally committed to Him and are willing to take up your cross and follow Him, you will experience remarkable things from God as I have.

(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church