God Abides With Me

Jocelyn Yu (Hong Kong)

I have believed in Christ since I was young. I emigrated from China to Hong Kong with my family in 1997 and I belong to Hong Kong Church. When I came to Hong Kong, I encountered many difficulties as there were huge differences in the education system, language and academic curriculum between Hong Kong and mainland China. However amidst the difficulties, God helped me overcome one obstacle after another, deeply strengthening my faith. Thank the grace of the Lord, I would like to take this opportunity to share how God guided me throughout.

A hardworking student
I came to Hong Kong in June 1997. That was summer time and coincided with the school holidays. My parents started to look for a primary school for me near where we lived with the hope that I could start school in September in accordance with the new academic year. We first found a school in our district that had quite a good academic standing and we began preparing for the entrance test. However as I did not pass the English language subject, I was not accepted by the school. Subsequently we had to look for another school which had a larger immigrant Chinese population and I was accepted, although I did not really meet the English requirements. I had to downgrade from primary level 6 to 4 which upset me a lot, as I was much older than my fellow classmates. Moreover, the school also was not fully convinced by my academic ability. In hindsight, the choice of school was God's wonderful arrangement as the school organized extra English lessons after class for the immigrant children. They structured the class at entry level, so for someone like me who did not even know my "ABCs"; it was very useful in building my foundation.

In the three years I spent in the school, I found that the teachers were very caring and there was a strong bond between teachers and students. I was happy to go to school every day and the school made an effort in reassuring me by appointing me to be the class monitor, school prefect and model student, and even asked me to represent the school in competitions. These activities and recognition raised my confidence and as a result I did not feel inferior at being an immigrant child. On the contrary, I was active in extra-curricular activities which cultivated my outgoing personality. Thank God for arranging for me to be in a school which might not have a strong academic record, but made me feel protected, loved, and happy.

One test after another
At the end of my primary school, I had to sit for a public examination in order to be promoted to a secondary school. Examination results were the main determinant in deciding which school you ended up with. At that time, English-based secondary schools in Hong Kong were more popular than Chinese due to the higher percentage of students from English schools gaining admission to universities and colleges. English-based schools in the popular school district of Kowloon City where I lived were all the more competitive.
At that time, I had very much wanted to study in an English school because the future was brighter. However since I had not done well in this subject, I was worried. My mother prayed for me constantly and she also requested the church to pray. The religious education teachers also prayed for us. Thank God, though I did not score very well in the subject, I managed to meet the minimum requirements for secondary school. On top of that, since I fared relatively better in Chinese and Mathematics, I eventually got into the English school of my choice.

The challenge began after I entered secondary school. Besides the three Chinese subjects namely Chinese language, Chinese History and Chinese Literature, all other subjects were taught in English. This was a big hurdle for me especially since my English foundation was weak. So shortly after the first school term, my grades dropped tremendously. I reflected repeatedly that I have studied hard and put in more effort than my friends so why was it that my results weren't any better? I felt a lot of pressure and feared that if I did not meet the average requirement or even failed in one subject, I would have to repeat that grade. I was sad, frightened and depressed and many times, I cried as I did my homework.

My mother was very worried for me but she couldn't help much. The only thing she could do was to pray even more intensely with me each time I had a test and hoped that God will relieve me of my pressure. Thank God that each time after prayer, I was much calmer and though the pressure remained, I felt that there was an invisible person accompanying me throughout. This helped me to rely on God all the more and indeed God led me faithfully through one test after another.

Finding solace
After I completed the Form 5 examinations (Certificate of Education), my next biggest goal was to do well enough to be able to stay in the same school to continue my studies for the next level which is Matriculation. Unfortunately I scored only 14 points and additionally I had to pass my Chinese and English language subjects as the minimum requirement. This was my biggest fear.
I enrolled in seven subjects which was the requirement for Arts majors. Besides Chinese Language, Chinese History and Chinese Literature which I had better results in, I didn't do well in the other subjects. I felt the pressure even more because these examinations were public examinations. I had mood swings and did not sleep well constantly. The pressure was so great that pimples started to grow on my face.

About 20 days before the final examinations, students would stay at home and study. That year, there were five brothers and sisters including me who were sitting for the final papers. The Church had special prayers for us and the resident preacher Preacher Lin always encouraged us in his sermons. He encouraged us to attend services regularly even during examinations and to pray zealously to God. He believed that God would grant His grace and mercy and help us.

Though I had a tight revision schedule, I attended all services regularly namely Wednesday night, Friday night and Sabbath Day. Attending service on one hand was to find breathing space, on the other, it was to take the chance to pray and have the elders lay hands and pray for me. Each time after service, I felt peaceful and the frustration inside me vanished. Thank God, even though I was anxious, unwell and even had sleepless nights, the eventual results turned out well. I managed to meet the requirements to enter my current school. And thank God, besides passing English, which I had the least confidence in; I also passed my selected subjects at "C" grade which was the minimum requirement in order to stay in my current school. I was better off that some of my classmates who scored higher marks than me, but, because they did not pass their selected subjects, they had to leave and look for another one school.

My comforter
At the end of my two years, I had to face yet another public examination that is "A" Levels, which would determine if I could attend university. As there were not many universities in Hong Kong, competition was very intense. I took part in the "A" Level examinations in the year 2007. The pressure was enormous, beyond words. I met with many obstacles during my examinations but thank God, with His guidance, I walked through each one of them peacefully.
Just one month before the examinations, pressure unconsciously built up in me as I did not do very well during the mock papers. Every day, I was immersed in many books, ranging from History, Literature and Chinese Culture to English. I felt very stressed about studying and additionally I had to find time to practice past years' papers. I found that constantly there was not enough time, and mostly I was heavy-hearted, upset and unhappy. I talked to God in prayer and was constantly afraid of the consequences of not passing my examinations.

One day, I chanced upon the March edition of the Chinese Holy Spirit Times and read one of the testimonies inside. In that testimony, a Sister Huang testified how God led her step-by-step in her studies. After reading the passage, I was very touched and envious. I made a little wish in my heart that if God was willing and allowed me to go to university, I would testify for Him to thank Him. Looking back, little did I know that the moment I made my wish, God had already laid down my path for university. Thank God!

I passed each day of my revision with a lot of pressure and negative emotions. I often felt heavy in both body and soul and was physically unwell. I cried over the most trivial thing and this state of mind was unhealthy for someone who was going to sit for examinations. One night I went to Church for service and God comforted me with His hymn, number 140 "God understands my sorrows."

The lyrics went something like this: "May God understand your sorrows, may He see your tears. God is with you, do not be disappointed, do not be sad. May God understand your sorrows, He knows your sufferings. But if you trust in Him fully, there is no burden too heavy."

The Lord provides
During the hymn, I felt as though God was talking to me and He promised to abide with me, as long as I had faith. I was very touched and cried as I sang. They were tears of joy. I have always felt alone bearing the burden of studies myself and felt no one understood me. The hymn comforted me knowing that God was with me in difficulties and loneliness. My sorrow dissipated with my tears. In the next few days, whenever I was unhappy revising my studies, I sang the hymn to remind myself that God was with me and I wasn't alone.

Along the way, many unexpected incidents happened. I was sleepless for two nights when I was preparing for my strongest subject Chinese History, which inevitably led to the strong pressure. On the actual day of the examination, I was tired both in spirit and body. Before I left home, my family and I prayed a long prayer together asking for God's preservation that I could last for six hours of the exam. Thank God I managed to complete the paper smoothly and had quite good grades.

There were two other incidents and both concerned the English subject which has two parts (composition and the integrated paper). That day after English composition, I suspected that I didn't do very well compared to my classmates who were happy that what they learnt at tuition was quite similar to the test topics. Hence most of them felt the paper was relatively easy and were confident of doing well. When I heard that, I was let down as that meant that the overall grade or results would be high and hence my chance of a good score would be low. At that thought, I went to the bathroom and cried. I was unsettled but I had to compose myself in order to sit for another paper in the afternoon. I waited for break time when I could pray quietly to ask God to calm me down. Miraculously, when I began to sit for my second paper, I was much more peaceful and could fully concentrate. I really thanked God for His help.

The second incident was the English oral test. I am sure those who know me would know that I fear the subject of English but the worst part is English Oral. The oral test was a final hurdle for many people, and even those who could normally speak fluently would stutter on the actual day of the test. As usual I was afraid but like before, each time I was nervous, I whispered a silent prayer. After the oral examination, I couldn't recall at all what I said but, to my surprise, a fellow student said I did well and that I was calm. She even asked me why I was not nervous. I was taken aback and could only thank God. Though at that time I was not aware of the outcome, at the least, I did not run away or avoid the test.

Thank God for His guidance that I passed all my examinations smoothly including English oral and the most important English paper which was the integrated examination. My results were what I hoped for and I was accepted by a government-sponsored university. Though there will still be many challenges ahead, I believe God is omnipotent and He knows my needs. As long as I rely on Him, He will reward me unexpectedly. All this time, I have deeply experienced the bible verse in 2 Corinthians 12:9 where it is stated "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." This is definitely true, as every encounter I faced has strengthened my faith that what God provides is sufficient for me.

May all glory be to God forever. Amen!