By Xiufen, Singapore
“Rejoice ever more, sing praises to the Lord. No matter what place we are in, the Lord is always watching over us. Just believe and we will be blessed. Pray always, wait patiently. The Lord has His time for everything. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. Just believe and we will have joy. …” Whenever I hear this hymn “Rejoice Ever More,” I am filled with gratitude. It not only brings joy and the strength from the Lord to my heart, but following its words gives me experiences with the Lord’s faithfulness, and makes me sigh and praise the Lord’s miraculous work from my heart.
An Unexpected Misfortune
I am a single mother, and I came to Singapore in 2003 accompanying my son, who was studying there. My only native friend vouched for me then and so I was permitted to stay here long. This made my heart feel full of thanks, and from then on, I paid New Year calls to her every year. But in 2011 she refused my visit.
Not long after that, one day, when my son was doing his homework at home, she all of a sudden called me and said, “Xiufen, I can’t vouch for you anymore. You’d better find someone else.” Hearing this made me suddenly panicked, and I rushed to ask her what was going on. She told me that, her family were afraid that once something happened to me, she, as my sponsor, would be implicated, so they hoped that she could be replaced as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to place my friend in a dilemma, and therefore I said to her that I would find a new sponsor. After I hung up the phone, I was very anxious. I thought, “If there is no one to vouch for me, I won’t be permitted to continue to stay here. But in this foreign country, I have no other close relative nor other native friend, so who can vouch for me?”
At the same time, I was afraid that my son, who was about to face his college entrance examination, would be affected if he knew about this, so I hurried down the stairs alone and called all my other friends to ask for help. Some refused, for they didn’t know any natives; others consented, but several hours later there was no result. This made me, an expatriate, feel very lonely and helpless. I didn’t know what to do but just called to the Lord in my heart, “Lord, may You help me. I really don’t know what I should do now. The Lord Jesus, only You can help me.”
God’s Marvelous Grace
After praying, I suddenly thought of Sister Zhang whom I met in a small group meeting. With an attitude of anything was worth a try, I called her and explained my situation, hoping that she could help me. She listened to me and promised to help. After putting down the phone, I prayed to the Lord again, “O Lord! You are my rock and my refuge. You once said: ‘Therefore I say to you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them’ (Mark 11:24). I wish to believe in You and rely on You.” After I’d prayed, I didn’t feel so anxious anymore. Before long, Sister Zhang called me back to say that she had found a native who agreed to vouch for me. Hearing this news, I knew that the Lord had heard my prayers and I felt truly grateful to Him.
Choosing to Believe in and Obey the Lord During Six Months of Test
The next day, I, together with my new sponsor, went to the immigration office to go through the legal procedures. At that time, I had just gotten a three-year residence permit and I thought that all I had to do was to change the name of my sponsor. Unexpectedly, the officer asked me, “Why do you want to replace your sponsor? You need to give reasons for this. And by doing so your three-year residence permit will be revoked and you need to apply for a new residence permit. It is detrimental to you. Just think it over!” Hearing this, I felt all conflicted. Then I called my friend to tell her about my current situation and asked her whether she could continue to vouch for me, but she refused. I had no choice but to go back to the counter to make a new application. The officer said, “It’s a pity! The three-year residence permit has been canceled. Just take a one-month temporary residence permit and go back for a response.”
In a flash, only seven days remained before the expiry of my temporary residence permit, and several times I had called my new sponsor who told me that there wasn’t any responses from the immigration office yet. In the past each time an application was submitted, it would be approved in half a month or so, while that time I still hadn’t received responses after waiting for nearly a month. I had to go to the immigration office to ask the officer who said my application hadn’t been approved yet, and asked me to go home and continue waiting with another one-month temporary residence permit. In the months that followed, I kept praying to God about this matter and my brothers and sisters also prayed for me, and at the end of each month, I called my sponsor and inquired of him anxiously. But several months later there was still no response. In addition, when I went to the immigration office, the officer sometimes even got angry with me. All of this made me feel that my hope of obtaining the approval was slim. I was anxious and helpless. I thought, “During these years, my son and I have been sticking together and depending on one another, and we have never parted. If my application isn’t approved, I will have to return to China, and my son, who is still at school, will be left alone. How will he live on his own?” Thinking this, I felt much suffering and pain in my heart, and I could only frequently pray and seek to the Lord.
In a prayer meeting, I came across this verse, “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear” (1 Peter 2:18). Reading this was very moving for me. Yes! God is the Creator, and is my Lord, my God, and in God’s eyes I am only a servant, so I should obey all of His arrangements, and believe in Him and obey Him regardless of whether He will answer my prayers. Then I said a prayer of obedience to the Lord. From then on, I felt much calmer. I knew that no matter whether my application would be approved, the Lord’s will and arrangements were behind it. I also felt that by using this environment, the Lord was tempering me and making me learn to believe in and rely on Him and wait quietly. During that period, I became closer to the Lord. I actively participated in all kinds of church activities and often prayed with my son. My son also comforted me by saying that it didn’t matter if I couldn’t get the residence permit, and that he could take care of himself, for which I felt gratitude toward the Lord. Moreover, the song “Rejoice Ever More” often encouraged me and made me believe that the Lord has His time for everything, and that He will accomplish all things according to His will.
When Easter came up, a 40-day morning prayer session was held in our church. At six every morning, before daylight had even broken, I went to the church to pray with my brothers and sisters. Once, I told the daughter of my pastor that I was waiting for the response to my application. She said, “Let’s pray together. We should not only obey the Lord, but should not lose faith in the Lord.” She then recited a scripture for me, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). After that, she pulled my hand and prayed to the Lord, entrusting my matter over to the Lord and asking the Lord to protect me and open a way out for me. I felt very moved. Also, this scripture really motivated me, so I set my resolve: “I am willing to believe in and rely on the Lord and obey Him, and no matter what He arranges for me, I won’t lose faith and will still thank and praise Him.”
A Pleasant Surprise From the Lord
In this way, half a year passed, I still hadn’t received any responses from the immigration office, and my visa would expire three days later. Yet I didn’t go to the immigration office to make inquiries. Instead, I made all the necessary arrangements for my son and then calmly packed my things; on the second day, I went to my company to hand over my work to my boss, and was ready to go back to China on the third day. However, just when I was on my way home from the company, I suddenly received a phone call from my new sponsor telling me that my application had been approved. At this unexpected news, I was speechless with ecstasy, but offered thanks to the Lord in my heart. I never expected that the Lord would give me a pleasant surprise when I chose to believe in Him and obey Him. For me, the temper has been like a life baptism; it has allowed me to personally experience the Lord’s wondrousness and faithfulness and has increased my faith in the Lord. I was willing to let go of my worry, and believe in and rely on the Lord and obey the Lord.
After getting my residence permit, I wanted to apply for the S Pass (the employment pass for mid-level skilled foreigners) so that a sponsor wouldn’t be required for my long stay. With my boss’s permission, I found an agent to deal with this, only to be told that to apply for an S Pass, one needs a college diploma, or the application won’t be approved. I thought, “I just leave grade school, and though I once got a professional certificate in dressmaking in China, it has been lost. What should I do?” Through seeking and prayer, I accepted that this thing would be ruled over and arranged by the Lord, I was willing to believe in and rely on Him, and experience things, and regardless of the outcome, I would be willing to obey. Afterward, I only prepared a copy of my work permit that I applied for when I started to work in my company, and an explanation for losing my professional certificate, and then handed them to my agent who accepted them with reluctance. To my surprise, shortly after my application, my company received the response from the immigration office. This allowed me to see the Lord’s wondrous deeds all the more. I remembered this verse, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I knew this was the Lord’s great power and His grace for me, instead of man’s deeds. I was full of gratitude to the Lord. Thank the Lord! All the glory be to the Most High Lord!