Years in the World

 

After I graduated from university, I became a programmer. Although I didn't like the job, I still tried to do every task given to me as best as I could, for I thought a Christian should do his duty well. But inwardly I felt very unhappy. Life was so boring. Every day, I lived between the office, the dormitory and the canteen. I felt there was an energy inside of me I didn't know how to use, I wanted to love, to do something wonderful, but I didn't know what to do exactly. Although I did my job well, although I got along with others well, and all my deeds were blameless, I often felt guilty and upset.

In the end I remembered that in the Bible people often went on fasting to pray for something special. I wanted happiness and peace in heart, but I didn't know how to get, so I decided to fast.

I often fasted for a day or two, sometimes for three or more days. I must admitted that I used to fear hunger most, and I didn't like fasting by nature, but one needs to pay a price to get happiness, I believed hunger was a necessary price for me to pay.

Did I get what I prayed for? When I look back, I can say I have been well-rewarded. For these years of fasting changed my life completely and have done me so much good...

First it changed my diet. The factory where I worked offered us a free lunch, and if we chose to eat breakfast and supper in the factory too, we only needed to turn in 50RMB per month. By the worldly standard, the meals they served were very nice, with meat, fish, eggs, seafood every day. But after 2 or 3 days' fasting, I felt my stomach unable to digest these foods, I longed to eat some fresh farm produce instead, all I wanted was just a simple meal with bread, milk and fruits. Besides, whenever I ate in the factory, I felt my mind not clear and my conscience dulled, and guilty came back to my heart. After some struggle, I decided not to eat in the factory, but to eat at my own expense. It was not easy at first, for every noon, when others went to the canteen to eat, only I passed by and went out. My parents said I was wasting money. Myself also felt very confused, not knowing why I did this, but I felt the feeling of lightfulness and peace and a clear mind was more precious than anything else, so I always ate outside.

 Another change was I began to do drawing. I used to like drawing when I was a child, but this little interest was so deeply buried down in the dust of life's many routines and trifles, that I almost forgot about it. But once while I was fasting, I felt very very hungry, so I thought I must do something to divert my attention. But I felt weak, I couldn't do any usual work, then a picture story book came into my sight. When I was little a child, my parents used to buy a lot of picture story books for me. One of them was a biography of a Russian writer, all the pictures inside were beautiful ink drawings. I took it with me when I left home. Now when I didn't have any strength to do anything else, I began to read it. The illustration was so beautiful that I couldn't resist taking up a pen and imitating it. This work absorbed all my attention that I forgot about hunger. I drawed for a long long time. When I finished, I felt disappointed, for I felt I could never draw so beautifully as the book. So I put aside my drawing and forgot about it. But after some days, I happened to see my drawing again, I was really surprised to find that it was so beautiful. Since then, I often did drawings when I fast. I felt a happiness that I had not experienced before, it was a feeling after you go through a great pain, and then create something very beautiful and feel satisfied...

Besides drawing later I found I also liked handcrafting, and I also liked writing. I began to feel life's so many beautiful things which I had not known before, and I felt happy when I made something beautiful and gave them to others, when I shared my discoveries with others.

Many people asked me how I learned my English so well, part of the reason was because of fasting too. I always liked English and it was the only subject I had been good at at school. But I had not commanded the language to the degree that I could express myself freely in it. After I left the factory, I found a teaching job. During those years, I tried to improve my English writing. I often tried to write something when I felt hungry. I didn't know why, but the truth was words came like gurgling out of my heart when I felt the pain of hunger.

So after programmer, I became a computer teacher. Then I became an English teacher for 3 years.

I was happier than before when I was a programmer. I liked teaching, and my students liked me. I taught adults students. Some of them became good friends with me. However I often felt lonely, for I couldn’t share with my friends something deep in my heart. Wherever I went, I couldn't mix up completely in any groups, I was always alone by myself, how I wished I could find the group that I really belonged to!

Although my family had been Christians for many years, we couldn't find a church that we could really feel at home. Many churches in China are controlled by the government, so the pastors don't have the freedom to teach what they think is the truth. So for many years, I didn't go to any church, but just stayed at home, read Bible and prayed by myself.

 Then in 2003, I got a chance to go to Namibia. I stayed there only 5 months. There I met a group of young Christians, most of them were black. Although many of them were poor, they were full of fun and hope. I was drawn to them by their sincerity and their love toward each other, by their unity and their firm faith.

 I lived with two sisters for a month.  Every morning, while the stars were still in the sky, we would get up. When the day began to break, we would walk to the church, there we each found a corner to read Bible or pray quietly. Every evening, we would gather in the church to sing and worship. We also often fasted together, and went out to preach gospel in the poor black area.  Many of the brothers and sisters were just students, they weren't rich. I remember once I stayed for a night in a sister's house, the next morning we had to walk about 2 hours to the church for morning prayer. But I really enjoyed that long walk at dawn,  when the whole earth was still sound asleep, the stars and the moon shone above us, the dark horizon stretched endless in the far distance,  to encourage me the sister tried to teach me a funny African gospel ditty as we walked... then the sky gradually began to dawn, the eastern sky was continually painted with so many different beautiful hues and colors until the sun rose. When we got to the church, it was already bright day. We often fast together. Sometimes there was misunderstanding or bad feelings between brothers and sisters, but during the fasting, it was natural and easy to forgive and to forget. After fasting, we always felt closer to each other.

 When I came home to China, I felt as if there were a hole torn in my heart, I missed the brothers and sisters in Africa badly, for I had grown so used to seeing them daily, to singing and worshiping and joking with them,  and talking about Bible and going to outreach together.  I missed the beautiful and blue African sky, the hot sun, the pure air and the endlessly stretching horizon. I felt I couldn't go back to my old life any more, I couldn't live like I had lived before I went to Africa. I felt I needed  Christian fellowship badly.

 So I began to go around to look for church. As the church I met in Namibia was Pentecostal, so at first I looked for Pentecostal church. When I heard that in Guangzhou there were black people and they had a church, I went there twice. But somehow I was disappointed, I felt them different from the brothers and sisters I met in Namibia, I found it very hard to mix with them, whether because of language difference or culture difference I dont' know.

 When I came home, not only had I spent quite a sum of money, but I felt very very tired. I didn't have strength to go anywhere. So my father suggested me just stay at home, take the time and learn a little painting. So I stayed at home, learned painting. Gradually I felt peace and quieted down. I loved painting very much, I felt happy painting every day.

But I did not know what to do next.

 

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