Into the Light: Jialin's Story
My name is Zhang Jialin. I was born and raised in Dalian, Liaoning Province in China. I came to the United States six years ago to study at college and graduate school in California. I met God during my graduate school years, and this is my story.
When I was a child, I spent half a year in Boston. Those six months gave me a chance to learn about freedom for the first time. After I returned to China, I never forgot the experience and decided I would come back to the United States again to study.
It turns out that it is difficult for a person to come to the free world without faith in God. My previous moral standards had come from Confucianism, an indoctrination of collectivism. Without that authority, I was confused and constantly battled against a sense of emptiness.
Even more troubling, our school is a very liberal one that teaches that a person can do anything and everything they way; there is no right or wrong. So, I’ve been fighting against this kind of mindset for the past few years, being worn out daily and afraid of falling into this trap.
Not only that, but because of what I was eating, my body also deteriorated, and my skin became very poor. I felt desperate every day. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, and I missed China and my family. I began to think that my life there had not been that bad—at least everything was under control.
During this time, I happened to meet a Christian philosophy professor at the supermarket. I was interested in his approach to eating, so I talked with him about it a lot. He was trying to share the Gospel with me back then, but I was like a stone wall, completely unable to listen to anything he was saying except about his diet and way of eating.
While studying in Los Angeles, I gradually adjusted my diet and began shopping at the farmer’s market. My skin gradually improved, but I was still lacking spirituality. So I began to study New Age (which feels like a California-specific word, pursuing spirituality but not faith) and gradually began to worship nature. That’s when I resolved to make a decision: whether to believe in God or not.
At that time, I thought that people had created God in their own image. I had also heard a lot of things about Christianity—that its spread had destroyed many native/tribal cultures and traditions. I decided to formally reject God and after that, I was in terror every day. I felt like there were many demons around me, and every day I was in a state of extreme pride mixed with extreme fear.
I didn’t know what to do. Later by chance, I happened to read a sentence in the book “Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton that said, “It is always simple to fall; there is an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands.”
That was my first prayer. I asked God to forgive me, saying to Him, “If You are here, forgive me and help me.” This was also the moment that I realized that belief in God and belief in what other Christians/churches do or have done are two different things.
After that, I prayed every night with full repentance, a prayer condemning my past and present sins and whatever sins might arise in the future. I cried and trembled, showing my weaknesses fully to God. I said everything I wanted to say to God, and gradually, my heart became calm. I asked God to cleanse me, show me the truth, and help me to stay on this path with Him.
I found a Christian professor friend who happened to lose his voice right around the time I decided to trust in God. He spent more than four hours typing down the Gospel message for me. He said humans are created in the image of God. But people have sinned and lost their perfect, harmonious relationship with God. The price of sin is death and separation from God. Our Heavenly Father, because of His grace and mercy, sent Jesus to make atonement for us and our sins. When we believe in him and receive new life in him, we can live in harmony with God again. When he finished sharing, I suddenly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. So, I trusted in Jesus.
I called my mom every day to share the Gospel and my own experience. Soon, she also believed because she felt that God was the only explanation for the miraculous change to my constant inner turmoil.
She often led my grandparents to learn more about Jesus. My grandma used to be a Buddhist. She would dress her Buddha idols and worship them every day. Then my mom said to her, “You have believed for so long, but you still have to rely on ‘human power’ and your own understanding to control your emotions and desires. The Bible is easy to read. After reading it, you will feel peace. It clearly shows you how to glorify God.”
One day, my grandma looked at the sea in front of our house. She called me and said, “There must be a Creator for all of this. I had always felt tired all the time, but now I finally have something to rely on. It would have been nice to know God sooner.”
Affected by the pandemic, my aunt and grandaunt had been suffering from insomnia and anxiety. But after they believed in God and began to pray, they have become much more at ease and able to sleep better. In only one year, five members of our family, including me, have come to faith in God.
My life has gotten better and better (and so has our family) every day, since the moment I decided to trust in God. I have also come to acknowledge that we are each a soul that exists within a body.
The last time I went back to California to see my professor friend, he said, “You are so different from a few years ago.”
It was really God Who saved me, so that my soul would not perish but have eternal life and radiance. I now firmly believe that God, hell, and heaven do exist. The human soul is either moving closer to God, or further away. From the day I was saved, I have continued to believe in Him because I know what it was like to live without light.
“And in him was life, and the life was the light of man.” (John 1:4)
I thank God for healing me and making me a whole person. He still gives me and my family an unending stream of strength, day after day.
Interested in the Chinese ministry at Chase Oaks? Find out more here, or check out our new service for Mandarin speakers at 201 Legacy Dr., Plano, TX 75023 starting Sunday, August 14 at 11 AM.