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  • Fgbmfi, God is faithful, Augustine Chen story
  •  God is Faithful - Augustine Chen's Story

    God Is Faithful

    I was born in Malaysia and in 1993 came to Dunedin to study at the University of Otago. While studying I met my wife to be, Seow Kiat (Jesse), also from Malaysia. At that time Jesse was an atheist but became interested in my Christian faith. I was just going through the motions with my faith, but went along to church out of obligation. I managed to say to her, “Ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you.” He did reveal Himself and Jesse received Christ. She then attended a “Life in the Spirit” seminar and then an Alpha course. As I “supported” her during the Alpha course I had an awakening in the Spirit myself. The John 14: 6 verse “I am the way the truth and the life” jumped out for me. I needed Jesus myself. God had used Jesse to draw me back to Him.

    Blessing of God’s family

    God felt so alive to us. As we grew to know Him, we were enveloped with support and love of new friends from church, FGBMFI and Woman’s Aglow. We were on a spiritual high, like a honeymoon. Mike Bunt from FGBMFI invited me to a regional men’s camp. There the men were excited about Jesus and that inspired me. Later I joined the Taieri chapter. The men and their families became like family. Jesse and I got married in 2000. We were blessed with Joshua in 2003. Life was so good, but a painful trial was around the corner for us.

    One terrible day

    One terrible day Jesse had a massive bleed in her brain, caused by an undetected medical condition. The ruptured blood vessel caused a stroke and her heart to stop. It is a miracle she survived. That evening I was not allowed to stay with her in ICU as I had Joshua with me. It was the loneliest and most heart wrenching night I have ever had to endure. I cried most of the night and all I could do was hang onto a prophetic word that the Lord was going to use both of us together in Christian ministry.

    Walking through the valley of grief and struggle

    After three weeks Jesse’s condition worsened. Thankfully a visiting Australian neurosurgeon intervened and performed a seven-hour operation which helped. From there she gradually improved. She was then moved to a stroke rehabilitation centre for the next eight months. I found it heart wrenching to see her. She couldn’t remember much, not even recognise our own son Joshua. Jesse then came home. Her healing and recovery was slow. That time was an emotional roller-coaster for both of us. We had tears, grief, doubt, anger and depression at various times. In the midst of it all our many church, Aglow and FGBMFI friends continued to pray for us and support us. I was angry at God, not for causing the aneurysm but allowing it to happen. I couldn’t comprehend it nor be accepting of it. Why us?

    A prophetic promise

    Meantime Jesse was relying on the Lord a lot as she had lost so much of her previous physical and mental capability. Her spiritual walk deepened. She learned to accept and overcome some of the deficits caused by the stroke. On the other hand I was weary and struggling. Though Jesse was growing in faith I got frustrated as she could not listen for long and didn’t remember what I told her two minutes ago. We had lost our former intimacy. As a result I became bitter and became depressed and withdrew from people. I was at an all time low. I was invited to FGBMFI meetings at times and my hope lifted a bit but my heart was cool. I was given a prophetic word that “the Lord would thaw and warm my heart again”. It sowed renewed hope in me, but there was an elephant in my room, so to speak, which I could not ignore any longer.

    My PhD thesis, a distant goal achievable

    This “elephant” was an unfinished PhD which I had put on hold when Jesse got sick. I had to stop studying to care for her and Joshua. A month before Jesse got sick I was given the approval to write up my thesis. I now realise that Satan had attacked us when he could hit me the hardest. I felt like a failure. However, a lifeline was thrown to me after two years to complete my thesis. That was a turning point. I had to set a goal and climb out of the hole I was in. At that time the Lord gave me a verse to hold on to: Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will succeed”. I held on to this promise and most days I prayed this word, though I still had some days in the doldrums. Months later at a FGBMFI meeting one of the men gave me the exact same Scripture. It was still hard going writing the thesis. A visiting scientist heard my situation and he spoke a powerful word that stuck. “You just have to grit your teeth and do it.” These encounters and God’s words really helped me, and I did finish my PhD within the year and finally graduated. Furthermore, there was a job waiting for me. Another blessing was the birth of our second son Joseph the following year.

    Learning to love, hope and grow in faith

    It was still hard for me to accept Jesse as she now was compared to before the brain injury. I was experiencing work stress and sometimes I had outbursts of anger from impatience and frustration. I began to see how little love I really had, especially after Jesse put up a Love poster from the bible in our room. When I read it I felt annoyed that I lacked those qualities of love. In fact I felt disqualified. It took me a while to realise that God was teaching me not to look at myself but look to Him, to forgive others without counting the cost and learn to love at all times.

    Looking back now I see more clearly how the Lord helped us through that long hard season that I couldn’t see while in the middle of it. He still works everything together for good! Fourteen years later with our two delightful boys, things are looking up in our family. There are still battles, but I know He is always with us. I am now looking forward in greater hope and believing the best is yet to come!

    God has not forgotten you!

    If you are struggling, be encouraged because there is hope for you. He will find a way for you even when there seems no way, like my situation. God is sovereign. He has not forgotten you, He loves you so much and He is mighty to save and deliver!


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