Five years ago, June 30, 2010, I arrived in Galveston on an exchange program and worked at one of the Wyndham Resort hotels as a cashier in the hotel’s café for a year. Before I had everything settled down, the hotel offered me a two-week free accommodation with a nice room to give me some time to look for a place to stay for the rest of the year. One of my managers came to me one day before that two weeks’ room deal was up and said she has an apartment open for rent; she wondered I might be interested in renting it. I didn’t know anybody and had no clue where to look for a place, and I had no vehicle, so I said yes and soon moved in. I also got a huge discount on the rent from her! I had never thought I would be provided with a nice room in a fancy hotel for two weeks (On The Strand! Based on the hotel’s rate, that would have been a few thousand dollars’ bill upon checking out!). I remember I got very excited and phoned my mother back in China and showed her the room over Skype. She was very happy that I was well treated on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. And I did not expect to find a living place would come easily plus with such a low rent! Later on, I realized why I was so well taken care of.
The apartment was about two miles away from where I worked. I bought a used bicycle from Goodwill and that became my main transportation. I biked to the hotel five days a week and to the grocery store when needed. I started the training right away and was put to work on a regular schedule after a couple of days. As most people know, hotels are busier on weekends than week days so I hardly had weekends off. Amazingly, on the second week, they gave me Sunday off and I wondered how I should spend my precious day. An idea popped up in my mind—go visit a church. Although my mother is a faithful believer, I was not yet then. I pulled out the Yellow Pages and tried to see where the Church of Christ would be located at on the island. Broadway Church of Christ caught my eyes. I wrote down the address and started peddling my bike. To my surprise, after I made it to the building, I saw a sign in the front said the worship is relocated to another place due to the damage from Hurricane Ike! So I turned around and headed over the new place, which was Mr. Isbell, an the attorney/preacher’s Garden House. And that’s where I met my spiritual parents in Christ, Jason and Natalie Freed, and their children, my new American brother and sister, Justin and Krista.
They invited me to have lunch with them after the service and asked if I’m interested in having Bible studies when I have time. I gladly said yes and started studying with them every Monday night thereafter (I had Mondays off). I’m so blessed to know them. Natalie didn’t mind coming pick me up and taking me home afterwards every Monday evening It’s quite a distance between my apartment and her house and there’s no way for me ride my bike to get there. One Monday night, two months later, after we finished our study, Jason asked me as usual if I had any question, I said, “Can you baptize me?” I forgot what exactly his answer was, but I do remember he got very excited, shouted it out, making sure everybody in the house heard it! We all got up, hit the road, and headed to the church building. It was 10PM! I dialed the number back in China and told my mother the great news on the way. Natalie made a few other phone calls to the church members and told them a new member was about to be added to His kingdom. The ones she called all came out to witness one of the greatest moments in my life. Yes, I was born again, September 20, 2010, the second day after the building’s grand opening since Ike. My baptism video is still on my Facebook timeline!Later on I realized why I had such a smooth transition: landing in a new country with no family or friends, yet I was well taken care of. It’s because He was trying to catch my attention to know His love and kept drawing me nearer and nearer. As He says in Matthew, chapter six and verses twenty six through twenty seven: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
I did not worry, yet He provides abundantly!
God bless, Steve Luke 18:1
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